What's new

1981 Top Fuel World Champion

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Nitro Member
#3
BUT BUT the CLOWNDOWN wasn't in place back then. How could the race for the Championship be exciting?
If we don't like what's new, why don't we petition NHRA to go back to the way it was? Where the winner of the World Finals was the champion. 1 race. 1 champ.
 
#4
Why is it called a World Championship, when actually every Top Fuel racer in the "world" doesn't truly compete for it? It should be called the US Championship. Or back in the day I guess they could have called it the North American Championship, when there was a Canada race. I don't know; maybe there's a driver over in China or Croatia or Yemen who would like a crack at that title. Australia is the obvious example. But it makes you wonder - if there's a nitro team in Chile who laugh at the NHRA
 

Cliff

Nitro Member
#5
The only way to have a true World Champ would be if drag racing had a series like Formula 1, that went to many countries. The European drag racing series is kinda sorta like that, with races in several countries, but it's like 6 or 7 races at best. All we need is several gazillion $$$ and away we go.
 

Nunz

Nitro Member
#8
I don’t know why they would have the winner of the finals be the champ
that’s even worse than having points get reset?
That’s just how they did it back then Sam, and at the time I don’t think there were more than 8 National events. I’m pretty sure there was some sort of method for determining who got invited to the Finals to have a chance at the title, I’m sure one of the veterans here can recall a bit better.
 

Cliff

Nitro Member
#9
Sam, if you want to read an excellent book about drag racing history, get High Performance, by Robert C Post. Covers the start of drag racing from late 1940's to early 1990's. Has some rare photos of the 1950's. As far as champions, in the mid 1950's, NHRA had ONE champ. All the classes from dragsters to stockers were involved & whoever had the most points won. They had different ways of doing points over the years. I think that when they had the one race championship, it might have been the Division Champs who went to the race, 7 Division champs plus 1 other car to make the 8 car field. Only did that a few years, then finally went to a points system that lasted the entire season, which I think was the best. I seem to recall that Rob Bruins won the T/F championship without a win, but scored a lot of points in each race, so won on points. I think there are a few others who did that also in other classes. I was on Google looking for the first champ, I think the car was a B/Altered, maybe (?) named Buddy. Need help with this, Alan, where are you???
 
#10
Sam, if you want to read an excellent book about drag racing history, get High Performance, by Robert C Post. Covers the start of drag racing from late 1940's to early 1990's. Has some rare photos of the 1950's. As far as champions, in the mid 1950's, NHRA had ONE champ. All the classes from dragsters to stockers were involved & whoever had the most points won. They had different ways of doing points over the years. I think that when they had the one race championship, it might have been the Division Champs who went to the race, 7 Division champs plus 1 other car to make the 8 car field. Only did that a few years, then finally went to a points system that lasted the entire season, which I think was the best. I seem to recall that Rob Bruins won the T/F championship without a win, but scored a lot of points in each race, so won on points. I think there are a few others who did that also in other classes. I was on Google looking for the first champ, I think the car was a B/Altered, maybe (?) named Buddy. Need help with this, Alan, where are you???
Thanks cliff I’ll check it out.
 

Cliff

Nitro Member
#12
Thanks Robin! I also remember Buddy Sampson who won the nationals one year in the 1950's. I think Buddy Garner was from Hobbs, New Mexico. When I was in the Air Force, I was stationed in Roswell. We used to drive around the state & went to Hobbs once. I think Hobbs had a drag strip back in the 50's. We had a drag strip on base, an unused runway & the base commander let it be used as a track. Ran 1966 only, but it was cool seeing the drags there.
 
#13
They had different ways of doing points over the years. I think that when they had the one race championship, it might have been the Division Champs who went to the race, 7 Division champs plus 1 other car to make the 8 car field. Only did that a few years, then finally went to a points system that lasted the entire season, which I think was the best.
My friend Jim Walther won the TF World Championship in 1972 after winning the Amarillo, TX (World Finals) race, but it was his only win for the season. I agree the WCS (World Championship Series) method of points accumulated over the whole season was the most fair way of deciding champions. The Countdown makes no sense at all, and as we have seen in some cases rewarded mediocrity.
 

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Nitro Member
#14
My friend Jim Walther won the TF World Championship in 1972 after winning the Amarillo, TX (World Finals) race, but it was his only win for the season. I agree the WCS (World Championship Series) method of points accumulated over the whole season was the most fair way of deciding champions. The Countdown makes no sense at all, and as we have seen in some cases rewarded mediocrity.
I don't know that it's rewarded mediocrity. But I do know what it does reward. Consistency. And, it has made the last couple of races interesting for everyone who watches and follows points closely. It also keeps every car going to events rather than sitting out 2, 3 or more events before the finals.

Look at Funny Car this year. Tommy Johnson Jr was in 5th place (I can't recall the point differential between he and the 3rd and 4th place teams but they were all close) going into Pomona. They upped qualifying bonus points for the Finals and also made round points worth 1 1/2 times more than the other races.

So he goes goes out and goes low in Q1, Q2, and Q3 and 3rd quickest in Q4. For a total of 14 points. That moved him to 4th in points, something like 21 points behind Capps. He needed ato win 1 more round than Capps to jump to 3rd. He does, and finishes 3rd for the year. In years past, about the only way you would see any drama like that would be to set an ET or MPH record in the final round.

You gotta look at things like this. This isn't something that was started, or is enacted on a whim midseason. Everyone knows the deal going into the year. Finish in the top ten at Indy. Thats better than having a team win 6 events before Indy, 2 after, and then just handing them the trophy at Dallas, rendering the rest of the races useless for a championship.

I kept side by side points totals, here on the Mater, way back when it started in 2007. Using the old Winston Point system, following Richmond, going into Vegas, every single pro class would have been decided except FC. So, there likely would have been fewer cars and fewer fans at Vegas and Pomona that year. Using the new point system (at the time) every class was within 2 rounds for the lead. (I consider pro classes as TF, FC and PS. Sorry bike guys). Capps did get burned by the countdown that year, but it was because of no consistency. He won 3 races before Indy, and zero after. The Champ that year, Tped, on the other hand won 1 race before Indy, got into the countdown, and then won 2 more after Indy to win the championship.

There are threads about it from back then if you want to search for them. If I remember correctly, I kept side by side point totals for old and new point systems for the year.
 

Cliff

Nitro Member
#15
I gotta admit, I'm not a fan of the countdown, but this year was really interesting, especially in F/C. And Pro Stock Motorcycle also, which went down to the final round. I really like it when the points are so close that you hold your breath each round to see what happens.
 
#16
Thanks Robin! I also remember Buddy Sampson who won the nationals one year in the 1950's. I think Buddy Garner was from Hobbs, New Mexico. When I was in the Air Force, I was stationed in Roswell. We used to drive around the state & went to Hobbs once. I think Hobbs had a drag strip back in the 50's. We had a drag strip on base, an unused runway & the base commander let it be used as a track. Ran 1966 only, but it was cool seeing the drags there.
The name Buddy Sampson sounds familiar, but I hadn't heard of Buddy Garner till I looked up on the internet just now.

The first Buddy that had come to mind was Buddy Cortines, who came to Britain for the 1965 British International Drag Festival piloting the Carroll Bros./Oxman "Troublemaker" AA/FD, joining the likes of Tony Nancy, Danny Ongais, Bob Keith, etc. The DragFests in 1964 and 1965 were a joint promotion by Wally Parks and Sydney Allard, but after the success of the '64 version (which brought us Garlits, Ivo, Jenkins/Strickler, Sox & Martin, Ohio George, KS Pittman, and the list goes on), 1965 was much spoiled by rain.
 

Cliff

Nitro Member
#17
Hi Robin. I have been a fan of British drag racing since early 70's. Dennis Priddle, Clive Skilton, Alan Bootsie Herridge (sp?) in the Firefly are a few that come to mind. I do remember reading about the US Drag Team that went to England in 1964 & again in 1965. That must have been a great show. Remember photos of thousands of people lined up at the race track to see the Yanks race. Do you remember Dante Deuce in the Mooneyes dragster that ran in England? One of my best memories was at the Winternationals in Pomona, maybe 1973. Clive Skilton had bought the Kuhl & Olsen rear engined car and painted it the way it would run in England. Dennis Priddle was there also. He had bought Norm Wilcox's front engined car. They both qualified, but the race was rained out and they had to go home. I was so excited to see British racers! They in turn was astonished that the American racers thought they had as good a chance as anyone to win the race. Pomona was not a great track then and the talk was that the British drivers were used to running at tracks like Pomona, so they had a good chance to win. Anyway, a good memory. Oh, Buddy Sampson won the US Nationals in 1957, in the Money Olds Special. It was a dragster with an Oldsmobile engine & 6 carbs. Sampson was the last driver to win the Nationals with an unblown engine. I think it went 140 something. The chassis was built by Lefty Mudersbach, who later became famous for his twin engine cars. Sampson was killed in 1966 and Mudersbach a few years later, at the old Irwindale track. I saw Mudersbach race.
 
#18
The 1964 tour came to Chelveston, a USAF base barely 10 miles from home, and it is one of my great regrets that I didn't go. I had every intention of doing so and was planning to bicycle over there -- I was 12 at the time -- but, come the morning of the event, just couldn't be bothered. Sad mistake. Dante Duce made some headlines by crashing at the wheel of Tony Nancy's '22 Junior' dragster. Duce was unscathed but not so the car. Nancy was apparently not amused.
I got lucky second time around, though, when Santa Pod opened for business two years later and just eight miles from my front door.
 
#20
'Santa' to evoke images of Southern California. 'Pod' because the track is located on the old Podington aerodrome.

Neat, huh? I don't think the fellows who dreamed it up ever imagined it would be one of the most instantly recognisable names in British motorsport 52 years later. But not everyone is clued up.

We do promotional shows around the country all year and I've had several people say, "Santa Pod? There's a Santa Pod here?"
"Well, yes," I say, "where did you think it was?"
"Santa Pod is in America," they reply.
"No," I say, "Santa Pod is here in England. It's an American sport that we run there."
"No, no," one of them even insisted, "the real Santa Pod is in America. You must just be using the name."
 

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