Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 2, Page

Originally ran 9/2001

Editor's Note: DRO’s resident Gonzo Chris Martin is taking a small sabbatical from the drudgery of writing his monthly column. I received a collect call from him supposedly from a resort in Baja, Mexico. All I could hear in the background was men shouting what seemed sounded like military orders. Anyway, Martin asked that we wire him a three-month cash advance to the luxury hotel front desk in care of the firm of Eie, Bailem and Fixum. He told me he should be back in business in about 90 days, or just in time for the Pro Stock Super bowl at Las Vegas or the IHRA opener in Texas. In the meantime we are going to run a few of what I think were his best chronicles that have appeared here over the last seven years.



I think most fans have a pretty good idea of what their favorite drag races were. In a lot of cases, mine included, some of these events are on our Billboard Top 10 for personal reasons. Considerations like, "It was my first race" or "It was where I saw my first Funny Car" or "my first four-second run" place high in the memory bank.

I've been going to the races for 38 years, and it's been my privilege to see a lot of great events. And my fandom, bordering on the fanatical for the majority of those years, has put me in contact with a lot of events that I was unable to attend personally.

To me, a "great race" accomplishes a number of important things. For one, I am a numbers freak: I care what the cars run. Of all the major auto sports, drag racing's rep has been built mostly by the elapsed times and MPHs these incredible machines register. That's what separates us from the others. So, naturally, a few of my top tens are going to fall back on whether or not records were revealed on the scoreboard.

However, that's not the only criteria. The historical impact of an event figures in this, too. A driver's comeback, an event that changes the face of the sport, spectacular occurrences, crowds, and the like, are poured into this mix as well.

I hesitate doing articles like this sometimes because it's hard to separate the personal from the impersonal and it also virtually forces the writer to rank the events. The last part of that is tricky for me: I don't like taking things and placing them, historical context alongside historical context.

For example, when Jack Dempsey won the Heavyweight Championship of the world in 1919, he put pro boxing on the map. Twenty years earlier, John L. Sullivan got the sport its first American recognition, but it remained for Dempsey to put the heavyweight boxing champ on a par with Babe Ruth. Yet, great as Dempsey was, he wouldn't have lasted two rounds with Mike Tyson. Dempsey weighed between 185 and 190 pounds; Tyson does his best damage at about 220 and is twice as fast and hits harder than the old "Manassa Mauler." But does that mean Tyson's greatness overshadows Dempsey's? No.

So with these qualifiers, let me give you an idea of what I think were this sport's greatest races. In chronological order, they are ...


As a race, it wasn't that hot. As any drag racing first grader knows, Calvin Rice won Top Eliminator and ran low e.t. at 10.30, and Lloyd Scott's twin-engine "Bustle Bomb" logged the sport's second 150-mph run. But the event itself got rained out on its Labor Day Weekend debut and wasn't run off until Nov. 19-20 in Perryville, Arizona. There were only seven cars in Top Eliminator and a couple hundred altered roadsters, coupes, and sedans, and stock cars.

However, again, this one falls into history-making. Wally Parks and NHRA successfully brought the nation's hot rodders together for the first national drag racing confab, and for that alone the event's greatness is established.

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