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6 Iconic Events in Drag Racing History

Iconic drag racing events

Drag racing is nearly 70 years old if you measure its inception from the first official NHRA drag race. Since then, it’s had multiple milestones including great drag races and world records. So, here is a list of 6 of the most iconic events in drag racing history.  

1.    First Official NHRA Drag Race (1953)

April 1953 saw the inception of drag racing as an official sport. The location was the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds parking lot in Pomona, California. It’s been nearly 70 years since that day and the track has undergone significant expansion. It hosts the NHRA season opening Kragen O’Reilly Winternationals as well as the season finale every year.

As far as milestones go, this was definitely the first.  

2.    The First Nationals (1955)

In September 1955, the first national drag racing event was held in the Great Bend, Kansas. It was simply called “The Nationals” then. Six years after that event, the Nationals went around the country to show how the sport had grown before it settled in Indianapolis in 1961.

3.    200 MPH: A New Record (Or Is It?)

Don “Big Daddy” Garlits is considered to be the greatest drag racer of all time and for good reason. In 1964, he broke the 200 mph barrier at the Winternationals. While he was greeted with fame and fortune for it, there were some that disputed the claim. They said that Chris Karamesines, “The Greek”, had broken the 200 mph barrier in 1960.

4.    Shirley Muldowney Breaks the Glass Barrier (1977)

She was the first woman licensed to drive a Top Fuel Dragster in 1973. She then followed that up by winning the 1977 Top Fuel World Championship. She broke through the glass barrier in her own field and became an icon. And that’s why Shirley Muldowney’s win is one of the most iconic events in drag racing history.

5.    270 MPH: Don Garlits Does It Again (1986)

Don Garlits did it again in 1984 by breaking the 270 MPH barrier in 1986. He ran his car way past the barrier at 272.56 mph. He beat Dick LaHaie who finished with a record of his own at 268.86 mph. Don Garlits would go on to break several other records in his life time.

6.    Kenny Bernstein Becomes Dual Champion (1996)

Kenny Bernstein has several firsts to his name including breaking the 300 mph in 1992. However, his most famous feat is winning the championship in both nitro classes in 1996. He even won another Top Fuel championship title in 2001. He is so far the driver to win multiple championships in both categories.

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