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The Lubbock, Texas-based driver/car owner's accomplishments stretch far beyond the gates of NHRA. Beadle wheeled his "Blue Max" Funny Cars to three IHRA Winston World Championships, outlasting the fields in 1975, 1976, and 1981. He is the second winningest driver in IHRA Funny Car annals, winning 19 national event titles and trailing only Dale Pulde's 20 trophies. In 1981, he won both the NHRA and IHRA world championships, making him, at the time, only the second Funny Car driver to win simultaneous hot rod association titles. (Gene Snow was the first, winning in NHRA and AHRA in 1970.) The '81 season was a big one for Beadle in other respects as he became the first IHRA Funny Car driver to run in the fives, with a 5.99 at the IHRA Pro-Am in Rockingham, N.C.

Beadle also scored in AHRA competition, winning both the 1978 and 1983 AHRA World Finals Funny Car titles at Spokane, Washington. As could be guessed, the "Blue Max" boss was a superb match racer, winning the 1976 Olympics of Drag Racing Funny Car title and the 1980 Orange County Manufacturers Funny Car race at Orange County. Incidentally, both the Olympics and Orange County wins came at the expense of Don "the Snake" Prudhomme in the final rounds.

Two final pieces of trivia. At the 1982 NHRA Winternationals, Beadle's 5.97 beat Frank Hawley and the "Chi-Town Hustler's" 5.96 in the first side-by-side five-second Funny Car heat ... and second, Beadle's first national event win of any kind came at the 1974 AHRA Winternationals when he won Funny Car at the wheel of the Don Schumacher (Top Fuel Tony's father) "Stardust" Chevy Vega.

In 1967, Kalitta enjoyed a fantastic start to the season, driving a Ford SOHC-powered Top Fueler. He won the 1967 AHRA Winternationals at Beeline Dragway in Scottsdale, Arizona when he beat Bob Downey in the Howard Cam Spl. in the final. A week later he entered the NHRA winter meet and won that, too, ousting Gene Goleman in the Creitz & Greer entry in the money round. At the end of February, Kalitta journeyed to Daytona Beach, Fla. and won the NASCAR Winter Championship's beating Lou Smith's "Probe" in the wrap-up for that race.

Kalitta has won national events in all three of the major hot rod associations (four if you counted NASCAR), and was an IHRA Top Fuel World Champion in 1979 and 1982. If you asked the forty-plus year veteran his favorite win, we're somewhat sure that he would answer the 1964 Bakersfield U.S. Fuel and Gas Championships, but if not that, then the 1994 NHRA Nationals where he beat another great, veteran Eddie Hill, in the final.

As most know, "Sneaky Pete" Robinson, with the possible exception of Connie Kalitta, was Top Fuel's best Ford racer. Robinson did win the inaugural NHRA Summernationals at York U.S. 30 with a Ford, but that was not the final national event win by a member of that breed. In September of 1970, Robinson won the AHRA All-American at Bristol, Tenn., closing the book on winning Fords.

It can be said that just before his death at the 1971 NHRA Winternationals, Robinson might've bagged another big event win with a FoMoCo powerplant. He ran the quickest elapsed time ever for a Ford (at the time) at the AHRA Grand American at Lions Dragstrip in January when he qualified No. 1 with a 6.50, but lost early due to mechanical trouble. On his death lap at Pomona, Robinson ran a 6.77, which was good for the fourth spot (I think). The air dam under the engine that assisted Robinson on the Lions 6.50 was suspected in creating conditions where Robinson slammed into the guardrail in the Pomona speed traps.


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