1973 Monthly Headlines
Don Garlits and Bill Jenkins were named to the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) All-America roster. ... NHRA announced that, beginning with the Winternationals, national e.t. and speed records would be certified and recognized in the three Professional classes at all national events. Previously, national records could only be set at designated record meets, such as NHRA's 35 World Championship Series races or National Opens. ... NHRA announced that it would let certain rocket- powered vehicles make exhibition runs at NHRA-sanctioned events.
Tony Fox's Pollution Packer rocket-powered dragster, driven by Dave Anderson, became the first such vehicle to appear at an NHRA national event, clocking a 5.57 at 281.03 mph on its maiden voyage at the Winternationals. Anderson later ran a 5.35 at 297 mph. ... Jenkins ran 148.76 mph, a national record, during Pro Stock qualifying for the Winternationals, which was twice delayed by rain. ... Two weeks after it began, the 13th annual Winternationals was finally completed. Garlits won his third Winternationals Top Fuel title, defeating an up-in-smoke Dennis Baca in the final. Garlits also had low e.t. (6.51) and top speed (235.60). Don Schumacher ran a 7.18 at 220.58 mph, low e.t. and top speed, in the Funny Car final to defeat Kenny Bernstein, and Pro Stock winner Don Nicholson set a national e.t. record in the final with a 9.33 against Don Carlton. Other winners were Steve Woods (Competition), Bob Riffle (Modified), Paul Smith (Super Stock), and Les Young (Stock). ... NHRA broadened its driver licensing program, requiring all drivers in Pro Stock and in the unblown Competition eliminator classes to be licensed, effective July 1, 1973. Previously, only drivers of supercharged and/or fuel-burning vehicles were required to be licensed.
Herm Peterson piloted his Chevy-powered dragster to a stunning Top Fuel victory at the fourth annual Gatornationals. In the final, Peterson defeated Jim Bucher, who earlier had set the national e.t. record with a 6.07. Garlits, who had low e.t. with a 6.05, set the national speed record at 243.24 mph. Pat Foster, driving Barry Setzer's Vega, set the national e.t. record in Funny Car with a 6.36 en route to his first national event win, defeating Schumacher in the final. Schumacher ran 230.76 mph, also a national record. Winternationals winner Nicholson set both ends of the national record in Pro Stock en route to his second straight national event win with runs of 9.01 and 150.50 mph. Other winners were George Montgomery (Competition), Francis Crider (Modified), and Ken Montgomery (Super Stock).
Concerned over the recent rash of Funny Car fires, NHRA announced that, as of June 1, all Funny Cars must be must be equipped with at least 20 pounds of Freon fire extinguishing agent, among other fire-related requirements. ... Shirley Muldowney became the first woman to qualify for an NHRA competition license in Top Fuel. One of the licensed drivers to sign her application was Garlits.
In front of more than 100,000 spectators at Fuji Int'l Raceway in Toyoko, Tony Nancy completed his celebrated tour of Japan with a new Japanese 400-meter acceleration and speed record in his Wynn's Sizzler rear-engine Top Fuel dragster. Nancy recorded a 6.50 at 237.84 mph. ... NHRA took delivery of a pair of specially constructed "entry suits" for use by emergency crews at national events to extricate drivers from burning vehicles and to combat fire at close range.
"Kansas John" Wiebe and Dave Beebe won Top Fuel and Funny Car, respectively, at the ninth annual Springnationals. Wiebe defeated Garlits in a rematch of the 1971 Springnationals final for his first national event win, and Beebe drove Larry Huff's Soapy Sales Dodge Challenger to a final-round victory against an up-in-smoke Foster for his first. Carlton defeated a red-lighting Butch Leal in the Pro Stock final, and Judy Lilly became the first woman to win multiple national event titles with her victory in Super Stock. Other winners were Dave Mack (Competition) and Jan Riedel (Modified). ... Anderson made the quickest and fastest quarter-mile run in drag racing history when he piloted Fox's Pollution Packer rocket dragster to a 4.99 at 322-mph exhibition run at the Springnationals. ... T.C. Christenson set the A/Fuel Bike e.t. record with a 7.83 en route to his Top Fuel win at the NHRA National Motorcycle Record Championships in Bowling Green, Ky.
NHRA added Riverside Motor Speedway in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, to its list of sanctioned dragstrips, making it Puerto Rico's second NHRA sanctioned track. ... Clayton Harris won Top Fuel at the fourth annual Summernationals for his first and only national event win. Harris, runner-up at the World Finals and the Gatornationals in 1972, made the field as an alternate and in the final defeated a broken Bucher. Bill Wigginton, driving the Candies & Hughes entry, ran a 6.03 in qualifying for a national record. Leroy Goldstein, also driving for Candies & Hughes, wheeled the Cajun 'Cuda Funny Car to final-round victory over Foster. In Pro Stock, which featured the quickest field in history, Jenkins defeated Leal in the final for his second straight Summernationals title. Leal set a national speed record in the final with a 151.77-mph blast. Other winners were Pete Shadinger (Competition), Bruce Sizemore (Modified), Ron Mancini (Super Stock), and Tom Tereau (Stock).
Pat Dakin drove G.D. Rupp's Donovan-powered Top Fueler to victory at the third annual Grandnational-Molson, defeating a red-lighting Jeb Allen in the final. In Funny Car, veteran Dale Emery won his first national event, as did Leal in Pro Stock. Emery, driving Jeg Coughlin's Camaro, defeated Frank Mancuso, and Leal, after back-to-back runner-ups in Columbus and Englishtown, beat Bob Glidden in their respective finals. Other winners were Dave Mack (Competition), Lloyd DeCell (Modified), and Carroll Fink (Super Stock). ... Keith Jackson was selected by ABC-TV to handle the U.S. Nationals coverage for Wide World of Sports.
Gary Beck scored a stunning Top Fuel win at the 19th annual U.S. Nationals, setting both ends of the national record en route to his second straight U.S. Nationals triumph. The Edmonton, Alta., driver recorded a 5.96 in his semifinal victory over Baca and, in the final, ran a 6.04 at a record-setting 243.90 mph to defeat Carl Olson. Don Prudhomme became the first driver in drag racing history to win a national title in two Pro categories with his Funny Car victory. Prudhomme, who won the U.S. Nationals Top Fuel title in 1966, 1969, and 1970, defeated defending event champ Ed McCulloch in the final. In Pro Stock, eventual winner Glidden led the quickest field in history with a 9.03 at 152.54 mph, a national speed record, en route to a final-round victory over Wayne Gapp. Other winners were Don Gerardot (Competition), Robert Thompson (Modified), Terry Earwood (Super Stock), Truman Fields (Stock), and Bob Mauriello (Motorcycle). ... Jenkins set both ends of the national record in Pro Stock at the Division 1 World Championship Series event at Atco Dragway. Jenkins ran an 8.91 at 154.37 mph en route to the final, where he ran an 8.96 to defeat Paul Blevins.
Jerry Ruth won Top Fuel at the ninth annual World Finals in Amarillo, Texas, for his first national event win. The Seattle racer clocked a 6.11 at 232.55 mph to defeat Beck's troubled 6.52 in the final. In the Funny Car final, Frank Hall ran a 6.39 in Jim Green's Green Elephant Vega to defeat Bobby Rowe's quicker 6.38. Rowe reset both ends of the national record with his run, which factored to an altitude-corrected 6.28 at 232.99. Pro Stock champ Gapp also turned in a record-setting performance, defeating Jenkins in the final with a 9.17 (8.89) at 149.00 mph (154.96). Other World Finals champs were Paul Smith (Competition), Chris Lawrence (Modified), Bill Hanes (Super Stock), and Jerry McClenahan (Stock).
Garlits recorded drag racing's quickest run with a 5.79 at Lakeland Int'l Raceway in Memphis. Garlits ran a 6.33 to defeat Bucher in the first round of a best-of-three match race, then soled to a 5.92 and 5.79 after Bucher developed problems in round one. ... NHRA President Wally Parks was named SEMA Man of the Year at the annual awards banquet held in conjunction with the performance industry's premiere trade exposition, the SEMA Show. ... After a one-week rain delay, Garlits (Top Fuel), Tom McEwen (Funny Car), Gapp (Pro Stock), Don Enriquez (Pro Comp), and Christenson (Pro Bike) emerged victorious at the fourth annual Supernationals at Ontario Motor Speedway. Garlits reset both ends of the national record at 5.78, 247.25 en route to his 10th national event win. Gapp also set a national e.t. record with an 8.87 in his final-round victory over Glidden, who reset the national speed mark with an 8.96 at 152.80 mph. Enriquez's win was the first in NHRA's newest eliminator, Pro Comp. In the final, Enriquez's A/Fuel Dragster defeated Ken Veney's A/Funny Car, 7.02 to 7.35.
In a move designed to strengthen and expand motorcycle drag racing in the United States, NHRA and the American Motorcycle Drag Racing Association (AMDRA) joined forces in a cooperative program designed to standardize rules and licensing procedures.
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