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Amidst much pomp and circumstance, Doug Herbert, John Force, Jeg Coughlin and Angelle Savoie all claimed victory in the Professional categories as the NHRA celebrated its golden anniversary at historic Pomona Raceway with the event titled the Pep Boys NHRA 50th Anniversary Nationals presented by American Racing Wheels.

These final heats were contested under dark, starry-eyed skies bathed in a glow of man-made foot-candles, reminiscent of how drag racing events once flourished at a myriad of drag strips in Southern California a half century ago. As the racing came to a close, the race fans were graced with fireworks displays loaded with enough flash powder to give a roadie for Kiss epilepsy. Similarly, a kitschy laser show inspired spectators into howling "Don't Fear the Reaper" while burning their fingers on cigarette lighters held high in beer-addled salutations to the Nitro Gods.

Herbert claimed his first event win of the season against Gary Scelzi. Herbert drove his Snap-on Tools dragster to a 4.60 at 320 mph to pull away from Scelzi, who lost traction right off of the pad, back-pedaled the throttle and finally ran 5.57 at 305 mph in his Winston-backed dragster.

After trouncing Whit Bazemore 4.95 to 5.69, John Force neglected to mention his sponsors and instead gave praise to the man who he considers his real benefactor, Wally Parks. "He put my kids through college," Force said.

In a tight finish between a pair of Chevy Cavaliers, Coughlin dispatched Mike Edwards in 6.91 seconds at 199 mph in his Jeg's Mail Order entry, while Edwards followed with 6.92 at 200 mph.

While clocking a battery of 7.20s (pretty much a tenth of a second quicker than the rest of the competition), Pro Stock Motorcyclist Angelle Savoie tied Shirley Muldowney's record for NHRA Nat'l Event wins for a female competitor. This despite some self-imposed handicaps. "My reaction times sucked," she said. Perhaps, but not as blatantly as final round opponent Antron Brown, who red-lighted and thereby sealed his defeat.


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