50TH ANNUAL KRAGEN O'REILLY NHRA WINTERNATIONALS TO RECOGNIZE 'GREATEST MOMENT' IN EVENT'S HISTORY GLENDORA, Calif. (Nov. 25, 2009) -- Since 1961, the legendary NHRA Winternationals has been thrilling NHRA race fans with the unveiling ...
50TH ANNUAL KRAGEN O'REILLY NHRA WINTERNATIONALS TO RECOGNIZE 'GREATEST MOMENT' IN EVENT'S HISTORY
GLENDORA, Calif. (Nov. 25, 2009) -- Since 1961, the legendary NHRA Winternationals has been thrilling NHRA race fans with the unveiling of innovative race cars, incredible rookie debuts, unprecedented firsts, and dramatic finishes that have provided a supercharged launch to NHRA seasons for five decades.
To help salute the milestone 50th anniversary Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals, coming to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona Feb. 11-14, NHRA fans will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite Winternationals moment of the past 49 years in a special month-long poll on NHRA.com.
Voting begins today at 5:30 p.m. ET on NHRA.com and will continue through to midnight, Dec. 31.
A panel of experts selected the top 25 moments in Winternationals history from which to choose. From the first NHRA victories of quarter-mile icons Don Garlits, Don Prudhomme, and Bill Jenkins or Shirley Shahan's breakthrough as the first woman to win a major NHRA event to the debut of "Big Daddy's" revolutionary rear-engined Top Fueler, the flying Hawaiian Funny Car, the Freight Train, Eddie Hill's Top Fuel blowover and more, they're all here.
Moments 6 through 25 will be revealed in reverse order on NHRA.com in the weeks before the 2010 event, and the top five will be announced during race week, culminating with the unveiling of the top moment during Sunday's pre-race festivities at the 50th annual event.
Below, in chronological order, are the top 25 moments:
1963, Garlits Goes Big
Don Garlits already was a drag racing legend, but his first NHRA win, with a revolutionary and controversial winged Top Fuel dragster, really puts him on the map
1963, The Mystery Train
Bob Muravez, forbidden by his parents to drag race, wins Top Gas in the fabled Freight Train twin-engine dragster using the pseudonym Floyd Lippencott
1965-66, Hawaiian Domination
Car owner Roland Leong wins Top Fuel back to back, giving Don Prudhomme his first win in 1965 and Mike Snively his a year later
1966, Ladies Day
Shirley Shahan becomes the first woman to win a major drag racing national event eliminator title with her stunning victory in the popular Top Stock class
1968, Galloping Ponies
Ford crashes Mopar's Stocker monopoly with a fleet of 10 Cobra Jet Mustangs, and Al Joniec, at the wheel of the Rice-Holman entry, collects the victory
1969, The Flyin' Hawaiian
Roland's Leong's first Hawaiian Funny Car, an ill-handling, full-size Dodge Charger driven by Larry Reyes, takes flight and sails backward through the finish-line lights. The duo wins the race the following year
1970, 'Grumpy' Rules First Pro Stock Go
Crowd favorite Bill Jenkins wins NHRA's first Pro Stock title, besting the previously unbeatable Sox & Martin team in the final with low e.t. of the meet
1971, Garlits Kicks 'em in the Rear
A year after a near-career-ending accident, Don Garlits wins Top Fuel with a revolutionary rear-engine dragster in its NHRA national event debut
1974, Roll Over, Ivo
Tommy Ivo barrel-rolls his beautiful Top Fuel dragster in the finish-line lights during qualifying in a fiery and car-destroying crash
1975, Garlits' Gift
Don Garlits smokes the tires against Don Ewald in round one of Top Fuel, but Ewald is disqualified for crossing the centerline. Garlits wins the event and season title and admits that had he not won the Winternationals, he likely would not have pursued the championship
1975, In Hindsight ...
Dennis Geisler calls his rare rear-engine Funny Car Hindsight; after he backflips the flopper in a huge starting-line wheelstand, he might have had second thoughts on its design
1978, The Real Winter-nationals
Southern California is supposed to be home to sunshine and blue skies, but the 1978 event is besieged by foul weather, including a rare dusting of snow
1981, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The roof of Raymond Beadle's famed Blue Max Funny Car blows off at the finish line on a winning semifinal run, but fellow Texan Kenny Bernstein allows Beadle to saw the roof off of his car and graft it to the Max. Beadle loses the final but not for lack of effort
1982, Seven Seconds to Glory
After years of using a complicated weight-break rule, NHRA switches Pro Stock to a straight-up 500-cubic-inch limit. The big horsepower gains lead to the class' first seven-second pass, by the late Lee Shepherd
1984-85, Thar She Blows (again)!
Al Segrini wins dramatic back-to-back Funny Car titles. In 1984, he rides out a huge top-end blower explosion; the following year, he crosses the finish line with a cockpit full of sparks from a disintegrating clutch
1986, Too Slick for Its Own Good
Gary Ormsby unveils a super-swoopy streamliner, and the car's debut is a bang ... in the worst way. An ignition short caused by the engine-cloaking body leads to a huge blower explosion in the water box on its first pass
1987, The America's Cup, Quarter-Mile Style
While U.S. sailors battle the Australians in the America's Cup, American Kenny Bernstein and Aussie Graeme Cowin wage their own war in Funny Car, complete with flags on their tow vehicles
1989, Up, Up, and Away
Eddie "the Thrill" Hill lives up to his nickname after a front-spoiler malfunction sends his yellow Top Fuel dragster soaring across the finish line
1990, Upset of the Decade
With the ink practically still wet on his nitro license, K.C. Spurlock wins Funny Car in his Pro debut, knocking off John Force, Bruce Larson, and, in the final, Ed "the Ace" McCulloch
1993, 'The King' Gets Crowned
Kenny Bernstein loses more than the Top Fuel final to Joe Amato. The former world champ loses, in succession, an engine, a tire, control of his race car, and the race car itself in a violent top-end tumble that leaves "the Bud King" dazed but unhurt
1997, Scelzi Sez ... Winner
Gary Scelzi wins at his first event since taking the wheel of Alan Johnson's dragster five months after the death of Alan's brother, Blaine. He becomes the first driver since K.C. Spurlock in 1990 to win in his Pro debut
1998, 'The Snake's' Double Strike
The two fuel cars owned by Don "the Snake" Prudhomme double up with wins by Larry Dixon and Ron Capps. Prudhomme hasn't won as a driver or owner in Pomona since 1978
2001, Rookies Rule
Former Top Alcohol Dragster racer Darrell Russell joins Gary Scelzi and K.C. Spurlock as the only drivers to score in their Professional debuts by winning aboard Joe Amato's Top Fuel dragster with rookie crew chief Jimmy Walsh
2006, That's Really Showing 'em
Robert Hight's Funny Car engine blows in round two, destroying the body. The team pulls the body off its show car and wins
2008, The Kid is All Right
Former Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Antron Brown shows that he is as adept on four wheels as on two when he qualifies No. 1 in his Top Fuel debu t