In 1951, Wally Parks created the National Hot Rod Association to spotlight the sport of drag racing. Starting in the California, Wally and a few friends roll up their top fuel dragsters and created a true American icon of sport. In 1965, Maynard Rupp was crowned the first National Champion and for the past 40 years, a new winner has been awarded the prize of fastest driver in America.
Over the years, legendary racers such as “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Don “The Snake” Prudomme and my favorite Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney have gathered twice a year to race in this event. There are two nationals each year, The Winter and Summer Nationals, and are now raced at the Indianapolis Raceway after a long stint in Pomona California.
Today the racers are as fast as ever with some in the top fuel category reaching speeds in excess of 300 M.P.H. The race has evolved from top fuel to funny cars and pro stock bikes and these racers are true adventurers who thrive on speed.
The NHRA sanctions events all over the country and on most weekends, you can experience the speed of these cars up close. Check with your local track or follow links on this page for information on the next race in your area.
For those who would like to get behind the wheel, join the NHRA and become a speed demon. Most tracks that include the NHRA have opportunities for the novice racer to get behind the wheel and experience the speed of a full opened throttle.
One of the first hot wheel cars that I remember owning was a replica of “The Snake” funny car. The real car was driven by Don “The Snake” Prudhomme the first man to ever pass the 250 M.P.H mark in a funny car. Now that my friends is fast. Faster than any of us would every imagine trying to accomplish, but than “The Snake” is not us. He is truly a man that was built for speed.
At the age of twenty he started his >motor-sports racing career in Bakersfield California by winning his first top fuel race. Than almost thirty years later he passed the 300 M.P.H mark at the age of fifty-one in another top fuel car, becoming only the third person at that time do have done so.
In the seventies when I was collecting hot wheels and dreaming of driving as fast as my car would take me, an epic battle would take place on Wide World of Sports once a year. “The Snake” vs. “The Mongoose” (Tom McEwen) would become a race of immortals and legends for my young friends and I. In less than six seconds the race would be over, but we would reply the event on our neighborhood street until the moon rose. If I remember correctly, “The Snake” came away with the victory on most occasions.
Now at the age of 65 he is still involved with racing as owner of Don Prudhomme Racing and still racing champions. There are still times when I dream of racing against “The Snake”, but know that when the time came I would not hit the pedal as Mr. Prudhomme was so successful at accomplishing. My only regret is that I no longer have that Snake hot wheel car.