For the last 50 years, National DRAGSTER has spiced up its
race coverage with generous portions of feature material
by Steve Waldron including How It Was, PROfile, (Below) One of National DRAGSTER’s
Hauler’s Handicap, and Instant first regular columns was Car of the
rom the very beginning, National DRAGSTER Replay, continued into the Week, which spotlighted class
has managed to spice up its meat-and-potatoes 1970s. In 1970, Tech Tips winners from the 1959 Nationals.
race coverage with generous portions of feature made its debut, offering weekly One of the first featured was “Ohio
material. From Car of the Week, a small photo feature advice from industry experts in George” Montgomery’s famed
spotlighting class winner’s from the 1959 Nationals, to a question-and-answer format. Cadillac-powered A/Gas Willys,
today’s in-depth ND Interviews, the ND staff has Pre- and postrace coverage which won Little Eliminator. (Left)
dished up a steady diet of the stuff. of NHRA national events was a Tricky Tipster, one of ND’s longest
In 1961, Club Corner featured news from hot rod major source of features in running and most popular features,
clubs, and page two of the Sept. 8 Nationals souvenir 1971, and souvenir issues first appeared as Hauler’s Handicap,
issue featured many small news items headlined Briefly, contained articles on each of offering this tip sheet for the 1968
the precursor to today’s Bits from the Pits. Beginning the previous year’s winners. Winternationals.
with the Jan. 12, 1962, issue, Club Corner expanded to Though in-depth features
a two-page spread, reflecting the increasing growth of appeared only occasionally,
car clubs throughout the country as NHRA’s organized editor Bill Holland’s three-part
drag racing efforts began to take hold. By April 20, the series on drag racing’s efforts
popular feature had grown to three pages. Following the to combat Funny Car fires in
Nationals, ND introduced its PIX … on the Drag Scene the May 4, 1973, issue, which
feature, a photo page that captured events of note at included a look at on-board
dragstrips throughout the country. extinguishers and fire-retardant
One of the more useful sections in ND — What, coatings, was one of ND’s
When, and Where — was created in 1963. The feature, more ambitious to date.
which often appeared on the back page, provided In 1975, a series of features
information about each track, including race dates and on driving techniques,
directions but, interestingly, no phone numbers. Drag technical features on the history of racing
Mart, a classified advertising section in which racers transmissions and the McGee DOHC fuel engine out of
could buy and sell race cars and related parts, became Australia, and season-ending personality profiles on the
a regular feature. wives of the some of the sports top stars, including
In 1966, car features and driver profiles appeared Lynn Prudhomme, Linda McCulloch, and Etta Glidden,
more frequently, and one of ND’s longest running served as interesting buffers between race coverage.
and most popular feature, Bits from the Pits, made NHRA’s silver anniversary was a frequently
its debut in the Feb. 4 issue. Penned by Joe Dragfan, addressed topic in 1976, highlighted by a four-page
Bits from the Pits was part fact and part history of the sanctioning body in the U.S. Nationals
commentary. Its one-paragraph tidbits were often souvenir edition, on NHRA’s early pioneering efforts,
written tongue in cheek. its growth in the 1960s, and milestones of the 1970s.
How it Was, later called Remember When …, Recaps of the previous season’s national events,
debuted in 1968 and featured a famous race car which appeared periodically in 1975, were featured in
from the past. Instant Replay was a one-page photo every 1976 souvenir issue. Woman in Drag Racing,
section of cars making headlines around the country. which first appeared in late 1975, also became a
Editor Steve Evans wrote a short weekly feature regular feature in 1976.
about one of the stars of the sport in PROfile, and In 1978, the Tricks of the Trade series was a
Hauler’s Handicap, what is now called Tricky common thread throughout the year’s 50 issues,
Tipster, made its debut. The always entertaining and providing expert advice to racers across the country.
sometimes controversial tip sheet has remained one Drivers such as Don Nicholson, Bob Glidden, and Don
of ND’s more popular pieces. Prudhomme addressed a variety of topics, including
Many of the popular features introduced in 1968, helmet standards, driveshaft and axle maintenance, the year and served as a building block to more
and transmission installation and care. technical articles in years to come. Two nostalgia-based
An ND tradition took hold in 1980 with features were also introduced. On This Date revisited
the paper’s inaugural “Best Of” awards. The the content of ND from five, 10, 15, and 20 years
award for Outstanding Run by a Top Fueler earlier (the name was later changed to Backtrackin’),
went to Marvin Graham’s 5.68 at the U.S. and Pure Nostalgia challenged readers to identify a car
Nationals, and Gordie Bonin’s in a photograph; the previous week’s photo and answer