In a note to its roots, the NHRA had a large selection of vintage drag racing cars on display for its 2021 Sonoma event, and HOT ROD was there to check it out.
When you look at the mega-complicated, mega-buck operations that take place these days for Top Fuel Nitromethane cars to run sub-4-second 1,000-foot passes at well over 300 mph, it’s easy to forget the simpler days of NHRA drag racing. Back in the 1960s, a 7-second pass was impressive, and that was using the whole 1,320. In the 1970s the cars got even faster, breaking into the 5s.
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Today, in a world with street-legal factory cars commonly in the 11s—and often in the 10s—it doesn’t seem as fast, but it was no small feat to pull off with the technology of the time. Well, thanks to people willing to preserve these time capsules, we get to check out vintage drag racing cars from “way back when” and imaging what it must have been like to strap in and try to win. Check out the highlights in this photo gallery!
Vintage NHRA Drag Racing on Display
The NHRA was in Sonoma to race the latest-and-greatest, but that doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten where they came from. As a bonus for the fans, there was a slew of vintage NHRA drag racing cars on display, with a little bit of everything from Funny Cars to dragsters and slingshots, like this one named “Single Malt Chevy”—gotta love them names. Fitted with a 401-inch small-block Chevy this 170-inch wheelbase ride ran on “methanol with a sprinkle of ‘pop’ added in.” Big-blocks, small-blocks, flatheads, and Hemis; the variety was as impressive as the history they represented.
NHRA’s Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series
These were just on display for the NHRA Sonoma race weekend, but the NHRA does have a Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series, where you can see vintage drag racing cars like these once again rip down the quarter mile, and who doesn’t love vintage nitro-burning Top Fuel dragsters and Nostalgic Funny Cars? To check out the eight-race schedule be sure to check out NHRA’s site (NHRA announces eight-race 2021 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series schedule). But for now you can click through our gallery of vintage NHRA drag racing cars and get a feel for how racing was done decades ago.
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