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Part 1


If drag racing possesses a parallel universe, it's in the field of high performance advancement. For those of us who are stats fiends, our chief interest lies in who beat whom, who won what, and what did they run. We wanna know who won the Super Bowl, who rushed for how many yards and who passed for the most, not what kind of equipment the players were wearing.

However, as most know, drag racing has an indispensable and extremely important technical side; the why's and wherefor's of how these results were attained and that's what we'll deal with here.

The sport has been alive for 50 years and there's been one helluva a lot of innovation in that stretch. Just a quick scan through Robert Post's "High Performance" book (a must-have hardcover that runs through drag racing's entire technological closet) confirms that.

In the following section your intrepid reporter has attempted to collect the most important breakthroughs. In some cases, this is nigh on an impossible task. For example, nitro methane has been around since the beginnings of the sport and was originally in racing as a fuel by the pre-war German and Italian Grand Prix teams in the 1930s. Dry lakes racers used it shortly afterwards and the stuff found its way to the abandoned airport runways and early drag racers as early as 1950. There was no one racer or team who showed up with nitro-methane and carted off a ton of trophies with this innovation.

However, the following breakthroughs fall a lot closer to that kind of impact. Dick Kraft's "Bug" stone-age dragster didn't win any national events or set world records, but there was a three or four week stretch where he did win the Top Eliminator trophies at the Orange County Airport Drags at Santa Ana.

Other breakthroughs like racing slicks just happened on the scene with the weight of fame falling more on the shoulders of the developer than a particular racer.

Following are what DRO considers the most important inventions in the sport's history. In addition, we've taken the liberty to inquire of some of the sport's prime movers in this regard, what was the backdrop in which these changes transpired. And, it goes without saying, that given the hustle and bustle of impossible deadlines, acute alcohol poisoning and other such detours ... we may have overlooked one or two or even three. Feel free to comment. Never too busy for you guys. These 12 innovations are not presented in any particular order, certainly not in order of importance, for all are equally important to the advancement of the sport. (That is our politically correct copout and we're sticking to it.)

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