Looking Forward to More 50th Anniversary Races by ProQuest

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									                                        SPEAKING OF SPEED with John Jodauga

                               Looking Forward to More 50th Anniversary Races
                                I
                                      n the last six      Winternationals Legends breakfast at the SEMA              Just minutes after concluding our conversation
                                      years, I have       Show, and the ND editorial staff soon started          with Garlits, we had the opportunity to hear the
                                      had the pleasure working on several projects related to the event,         background stories of several other Winternationals
                                 of attending the         including the special History of the NHRA              stars of the past, including Shirley Shahan, whose
                                 50th annual              Winternationals book, and as the countdown             Super Stock victory in 1966 was the first major
                                 U.S. Nationals in        continued towards the first day of qualifying in       eliminator win by a female driver; Shirley
                                 2004 and this            Pomona, we were deeply enthralled in nostalgia         Muldowney; Joe Amato; Carl Olson; Larry Reyes;
                                 season’s golden          with the extensive preparation that was involved       and Jenkins. We also visited with the likes of Funny
                                 anniversary of the       with the special Top 10 issue of National              Car pioneers Bruce Larson and Doug Thorley, who
                                 Winternationals. Of DRAGSTER. I was proud to see that many of the               ran their entries at the 1966 Winternationals in
all the sites of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag              selections for those features came from                regular NHRA classes before the then-new breed of
Racing Series, Pomona and Indy are my favorites           memorable Winternationals and U.S. Nationals           machines had been given their own eliminator
by far for a number of reasons.                           moments, including Garlits’ 1967 Indy victory.         category.
    Growing up in Pomona, I became aware of the                                                                      Elaine and Michael have been attending the
drag racing phenomenon while attending Pomona                                                                    Pomona national events with me since the early




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High School during the early 1960s and heard my
                                                                     It seemed like I was traveling              1990s, but I could tell that this particular race, with
classmates rave about this amazing form of                           back and forth in time                      its emphasis on the history of the Winternationals,
competition and entertainment. The first drag                                                                    was very special for them, as well as for many of
race I attended was the 1964 Winternationals, and between two distinct eras of                                   the other thousands of fans, because it created an




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it had such an impact on me that I ended up                                                                      enlightening perspective on just how much the
making a career out of the quarter-mile sport.            drag racing.                                           sport has advanced over the years.
    My first Indy experience was in 1967; I                                                                          I am not talking in just the obvious terms of
witnessed Don Garlits’ amazing comeback,                      As work continued for the Winternationals          performance but also how the cars have changed in
which was capped by him shaving his beard on              celebration preparation, there were concerns           appearance. When fans looked at some of the
the starting line after he recorded his first six-        about the weather during the event because             original Funny Cars that were on display at the
second run to win the Top Fuel final. When it             Southern California experienced a lot of rain in       Golden 50 Corral, they couldn’t help but notice the
comes to picking my personal all-time favorite            January and early February. But fortunately, there     difference between the extra-wide roll cages that
NHRA national event, that race is tied for first          were four days of sunshine, setting the stage for a    were popular in the mid-1960s to the narrower and
place with the 1972 Winternationals, where Bill           spectacular combination of the past and present.       much more protective versions utilized today. And
“Grumpy” Jenkins debuted his small-block Vega                 When the race began, I spent my time between       while Don Garlits’ first rear-engine dragster, the
by defeating five Chrysler Hemis to triumph over          watching the current cars in their qualifying                            ,
              
								
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