By Chris Martin & Jeff Burk
DRO File Photos
Editor’s note: In part three of our continuing series documenting and honoring the achievements of only the drivers and tuners that make about half of the nearly 200 current inductees in the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame. We again want to stress that we are doing this for no other reason other than to expose readers who may be unfamiliar with the accomplishments of these fine men and women. At the same time we are also listing the names and accomplishments of some men and women who perhaps could be in that hall.
In our next installment we will wrap this up with a final list of inductees and a few more men and women we think warrant some consideration.
51. DANNY "ON THE GAS" ONGAIS
Ongais was a racer’s racer who Don Prudhomme once described as the toughest driver he faced on a weekly basis in the 1960s. He won the 1963 AHRA Winternationals (on a coin flip), the 1964 NHRA Winternationals Top Gas title and, a little later that year, beat Tony Nancy for the Drag News Top Gas No. 1 spot in his Dragmaster Chassis entry. In 1965, he switched to Top Fuel aboard the Broussard-Garrison-Davis dragster and later the Honda of Wilmington entry. In the Honda car, Ongais was runner-up to Mike Snively in Roland Leong’s “Hawaiian” dragster in the Top Fuel final at the ’66 NHRA Nationals. He enjoyed his greatest year in 1969 where from January 1 through July 1 he racked up a 55-2 win-loss mark in Funny Car aboard Mickey Thompson’s Mach-1 Mustang (shown), winning the NHRA Stardust National Open, NHRA Springnationals, Bakersfield, and the Detroit AHRA Grand American. He won the 1969 NHRA Nationals Funny Car title on Labor Day Weekend, and on Sept. 14 clocked a controversial 6.96 (first “six”) while winning a match race at AHRA’s Kansas City International Dragway.
He raced from 1969 through mid-1974, whereupon he retired to go Indy car racing.
52. GARY ORMSBY
Despite suffering two car-destroying crashes in 1984, Gary Ormsby went on to win that season’s NHRA Top World Championship. Ormsby originally got rolling in Top Fuel in 1964 with Roy Baumgartner’s “Vagabonds” Car Club Top Fueler. He stayed around for a few years and then retired, briefly returning in 1979-1981, and then not returning until 1983 when he debuted a new Al Swindahl-built, Lee Beard-wrenched dragster that won the Popular Hot Rodding Magazine Championships. Before succumbing to cancer Ormsby racked up a total of 15 career NHRA national event wins.
53. BENNIE OSBORN
The Sand Springs, Oklahoma driver originally established his rep with a blown and injected, twin-motored, inline Top Gas dragster that was the Top Eliminator runner-up at the 1962 AHRA Nationals. Osborn’s greatest years were 1967 and 1968 when he won back-to-back NHRA Top Fuel World Championships on the strength of consecutive NHRA World Finals Top Fuel victories. In 1968, Osborn drew raves when he beat Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen’s Tirend Activity Booster Top Fueler in a one-shot $14,000 winner-takes-all Top Fuel match at Orange County.