launch of 50TH anniversary celebration

NHRA Founder Wally Parks recognized by the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Police Department for efforts to take drag racing off the streets LOS ANGELES (Jan. 29, 2001) - Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan and Los Angeles Police Chief ...

NHRA Founder Wally Parks recognized by the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Police Department for efforts to take drag racing off the streets

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 29, 2001) - Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan and Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks jointly presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Wally Parks, founder of the National Hot Rod Association, today as the largest motorsports sanctioning body in the world launched its 50th Anniversary during a special ceremony at Parker Center in downtown Los Angeles, the birthplace of the organization.

Parks, 88, was presented the prestigious honor by city officials in recognition of his efforts 50 years ago to create a national organization for hot rod enthusiasts that would eliminate illegal street racing. "The National Hot Rod Association has provided Angelenos of all ages a fun, controlled and safe way to enjoy the sport of drag racing, a long tradition in the City of Angels," said Mayor Riordan. "On behalf of the City of Los Angeles, I congratulate the NHRA and founder Wally Parks on their 50th Anniversary."

Parks accepted the honor in front of many NHRA dignitaries and special guests, including NHRA President Tom Compton, NHRA Chairman of the Board Dallas Gardner and several of the NHRA's biggest stars: four-time Funny Car champion Don Prudhomme, 10-time Funny Car champion John Force and five-time champion Kenny Bernstein, the only NHRA driver to win championships in both Top Fuel and Funny Car, NHRA's headline categories.

"This is truly a very special day for me and everyone who has been involved with the National Hot Rod Association over the years," said Parks. "We're certainly looking forward to the next 50 years with great enthusiasm."

To honor the City of Los Angeles' commitment to NHRA over the years, Parks presented Mayor Riordan with a custom-painted NHRA 50th Anniversary-theme racing helmet and a commemorative NHRA championship drag racing trophy. LAPD chief Parks also was presented an NHRA trophy. Both trophies contained the inscription: " To commemorate the birthplace of professional drag racing and its caretaker, the National Hot Rod Association, which was founded 50 years ago in Southern California and lives on today for the thousands of professional and sportsman racers throughout the United States. We also honor the everlasting partnership between public and private enterprise which was the framework for the creation of the NHRA."

"Without the tremendous support of the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Department and all of the great fans in Southern California, the NHRA would have never achieved the great level of success that it enjoys today," Parks added. "I certainly appreciate the city's recognition of this great sport, but we would be remiss if we did not offer our thanks as well to the City of Los Angeles and the LAPD."

Parks founded NHRA in 1951 to unify the ever-growing number of car clubs assembling around the country and to take race cars off the street and into a safe, organized racing venue. Working with civic leaders and local law enforcement, Parks began building nationwide recognition and support for his vision, and in a short time, the NHRA emerged as the premier sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing.

As the NHRA celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2001, it has emerged as one of the most popular spectator sports, with a 24-event, nationally televised tour. National champions are crowned in five professional categories, including Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock Truck. Sportsman champions in seven categories are also crowned.

"When Barbara (Parks' wife) and I were forming the NHRA, we never could have dreamed that it would grow and become what it is today," said Parks. "We thank all of the drivers, team owners, sponsors, track operators, fans and NHRA employees that have dedicated a major part of their lives to achieve the current level of popularity associated with NHRA Drag Racing."

With more than 80,000 members nationwide and more than 140 member tracks, the NHRA, with headquarters in Glendora, Calif., is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. The NHRA-sanctioned sportsman and bracket racing series' provide competition opportunities for drivers of all levels. The NHRA develops the stars of tomorrow by offering the NHRA Federal-Mogul Drag Racing Series, NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Street Legal Program. The NHRA also offers the Castrol GTX Jr. Drag Racing League for youths ages 8 to 17.


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Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , John Force , Don Prudhomme