NHRA celebrates its 60th anniversary

From "the Swamp Rat" to "the Bud King," from "the Snake" to "the From "the Swamp Rat" to "the Bud King," from "the Snake" to "the Mongoose," from the first fans lining airport runways to those who today pack historic venues like Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, NHRA’s rich and storied past will take center stage in 2011 as the world’s largest motorsports sanctioning body celebrates its 60th anniversary.

What began with a simple signature by Wally Parks in March of 1951 has evolved over the last six decades into the fastest, most powerful and fan-friendly motorsport in the world. And NHRA will be marking the 60th anniversary of Parks’ formation of NHRA with a year-long celebration that will pay homage to the evolution of the hot rod, the impact of the sport’s legendary racers, and the lifeblood provided by the many millions of loyal and passionate NHRA fans.

“Wally created NHRA for the hot rod enthusiasts and the 2011 season, our 60th Anniversary, will be a year-long celebration in their honor," said NHRA President Tom Compton. “Fans, accustomed to the up-close and personal experience through our open-pit environment, will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the stars and see the cars from throughout the 60-year history of the sport."

In addition to presenting John Force and Larry Dixon and the nitro-fueled thunder of their modern-day machines at each of the 22 events on the 2011 schedule, NHRA officials also promise to showcase the sport’s rich history with vintage car shows, Cacklefests, tribute-car races and meet-and-greets with the legends of drag racing.

The virtual tour through the first 60 years of NHRA drag racing will extend beyond the track to the desktops, laptops, and handheld devices of NHRA fans via the NHRA Facebook page. Throughout the 2011 season, NHRA will enlist the expertise of the fans of the NHRA Facebook page to help determine the greatest moments from the first 60 years of NHRA drag racing.

The 60th Anniversary celebration will get off to a 7,000-horsepower start with the “Snake Pit" car show featuring Don Prudhomme’s legendary collection of race cars at the season-opening Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals Feb. 24-27 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Among the highlights will be the 1967 Dodge D700 Hot Wheels Ramp Truck, the 1970 Plymouth ’Cuda and the 1972 Mongoose Duster; also featured in the “Snake Pit" car show will be many hot rods from the “Road Kings" car club.

After Pomona, the NHRA Full Throttle Series will head to Gainesville Raceway where East Coast fans will get their first chance to join in the year-long celebration with the “Official 60th Anniversary Kick-Off Party" at the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals March 10-13. Among the highlights of the “Kick-off Party" will be a planned match race between Darrell Gwynn and “Big Daddy" Don Garlits in specially designed electric dragsters and a car show featuring several of the vintage cars from the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing.

The celebration will continue throughout the year as the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series winds its way from Atlanta to Seattle, from Englishtown to Phoenix, from Charlotte to Las Vegas, and everywhere in between. NHRA drag racing fans from across the country will be treated to special events designed to give them the chance to touch and feel and, in many cases, personally interact with the men, women and vehicles that have made the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series the great sport that it is today.

Race fans can frequent NHRA.com or simply ‘like’ the NHRA Facebook page to receive updated news regarding details of the many 60th-themed ticket promotions being offered, and specific activities planned, at each of the 22 events on the 2011 schedule.

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