Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 2, Page



By Chris Martin & Jeff Burk
DRO File Photos

Editor’s note: We have devoted this series of articles to the drivers and crew members that are already inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame and to those we feel warrant consideration of being inducted at some time in the future. In doing research on some of the racers not yet in the Hall we were astonished at the accomplishments of some of those who haven’t made the hall. And the shame is that as the years go by their accomplishments fade more and more from the consciousness of the current generation of fans and racers. We felt that reviewing the accomplishments of those in the Hall and those not yet selected was the only way we could get the attention of the Hall of Fame’s selectors and bring some of these racers to their attention.

While we have stuck exclusively to drivers, tuners or crew members, in doing research about some of the accomplishments of those who aren’t in the hall we kept seeing the name of a couple of men whose manufacturing careers changed the sport at every level and aren’t yet in the hall. Those men are Harvey Crane of Crane Cams, whose accomplishments and contributions speak for themselves, and one name who many may not recognize but whose signature component absolutely changed the sport of drag racing like almost no other in the history of the sport: Leonard Abbott of Lenco Transmissions. Abbott developed a transmission which more than almost any other component ushered in the era of six-second, 200-mph Pro Stock and four-second, 300-mph nitro cars. We feel the time is long past for these men to be honored.

In order to give these great racers and manufacturers their due DRO will soon start a series of features on these racers and manufacturers to re-introduce them to a new generation of race fans. It seems to be the least we can do.

We doubt that DRO will have significant influence on future selections to that elite institution because magazine editors and staffers that criticize institutions such as the Hall of Fame seldom are listened to. However, public opinion can often have a serious influence on events. The people who select the inductees each year are listed on the Hall of Fame's web site. They are Steve Gibbs of the NHRA Museum; Harry Hibler, former publisher of Hot Rod Magazine; Ted Jones, former president of the IHRA; and Dr. Robert C. Post, who wrote the definitive book on the history of drag racing, High Performance. Those are the men that have to be lobbied to get some of the great racers who aren’t in the Hall honored with selection. - JB

The final list of inductees and DRO nominees



Thorley’s fame extends beyond his Southern California-based header company. He was one of the first great Chevy-powered Funny Car drivers, entering the fray in 1965 with an injected, nitro-burning Chevy Nova. In 1967, he had his greatest year with his Doug’s Headers Corvair, becoming the first Chevy pilot in the sevens, and winning the showcased Funny Car eliminator at the NHRA Nationals. His potent entry ran as quick and fast as a 7.67 at 192.30, which was about two tenths ahead of anyone else at the time. He later introduced rear-engined AMC Funny Cars that were driven by himself, Norm Weekly, Bob Hightower and Marv Eldridge. They flopped -- literally. The Doug’s Headers name remained on the side of Dick Bourgeois’ Funny Cars through roughly 1976. (Tim Marshall photo)

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