NHRA kicks off 68th season with Winternationals in Pomona
Drag racing has long been a staple in Southern California, dating to 1951 when Wally Parks founded the National Hot Rod Association in an effort to introduce safety to what many considered an outlaw street sport.
Ten years later, the new sanctioning body added the Winternationals as its second national meet. It was on the same quarter-mile strip on the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds where the Pomona police tried to provide a safe haven for racers.
It’s been a success ever since. NHRA, one the country’s leading racing sanctioning bodies, kicks off its 68th season this weekend at Fairplex with the Winternationals, the traditional opener.
In the early days of the sport, the event was known as the “Big Go West,” an escape from the harsh winter in the East. Inclement weather has delayed the event on occasion, including snow in 1978, but the Winternationals are the start of a nationwide schedule that will feature 23 events before returning in November for the finale.
The three pro classes will start Friday with the first of four qualifying passes. The quickest 16 in Top Fuel dragster, Funny Car and Pro Stock will advance to final eliminations, scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Sunday. Barring unforeseen delays, the final round will start about 4 p.m. and broadcast live on ESPN.
It will be the first event for the three defending class champions. Brittany Force became just the second female to win in Top Fuel, following Shirley Muldowney’s historic achievement in 1977, thanks to a strong showing in the six-event Countdown to the Championship. Robert Hight captured his second Funny Car crown, also with an impressive effort in the Countdown.
Force and Hight compete for John Force Racing, with Hight serving as the organization’s president. John Force is the face of the sport, with 16 championships and a record […]