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Greatest 1-Day Dragster Race Of All Time-July 15 (1 Viewer)

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Nitro Member
On Monday, July 15, will be the 52nd anniversary of the greatest 1-day dragster race ever conducted, the inaugural Professional Dragster Association race. Held at the greatest weekly drag strip ever, the unequaled Lions Drag Strip in Wilmington, California. This was the brainchild of Doug Kruse, he was wanted to hold a all dragster show as the S/XS cars were getting big. He got together with C.J. "Pappy" Hart and this deal was born. There would be no "door cars" of any kind racing at the 223rd & Alameda speedplant.

This race was going to have the largest payout for the AA/FDs' ever for a 1-day show, a base of $5000-to-win for the fuelers. This to me was the most important, influential races in all my years of racing, it was, still to this day I remember it so well.

The day of the race, dad and I knew this was going to be a history making event, it was, we left the San Fernando Valley at a early departure time heading to Lions at 8:30am. We wanted"our" seats, we arrived around 9:15am. When we exited of the San Diego Freeway at the time, now the 405 at Alameda you could see a packed pits already! I think we payed $7.00 or $8.00 dollars including pit passes, that was super high for the era. We got "our seats about 9:45am. Little did we know what we were about to witness, how long we would be at the track, and what a deal this turned out to be.

The race would feature every AA/FD hitter in the book except Garlits, he wanted an appearance fee, did not get it,did not show and regretted later. This race was going to have a 64-car field for Top Fuel, 16-car fields for both Top Gas and the wonderfull Jr. Fuel class. That would make 96 starters for the 3-division show in round 1!!!!.

I recall about 10:00am. the racing started with "un-controlled" runs for all the classes that were running, about a hours worth. Then at 11:00am it was on folks, as it was dedicated qualifying for each class in rotating sessions. For the next 5 hours nitro and supercharged nirvana reigned at Lions. The crowd at 12:00 noon was already remarkable, probably 70% full. Qualifying ended around 4:00 something with round 1 at 6:00pm.

The entries; AA/FD had 90 pre-entries, Top Gas had 24 of the best, while the Jr. Fuel had a record breaking 37 cars! By 5:00 the place was full, or that is what dad and I thought, we were wrong. My dad and his buddy's as well as my age buddy's were wound up for this.

They delayed the start for 30 minutes because the freeway was backed up and it was a traffic nightmare. At a little after the 5 the dragsters came under the tower and were pushed onto the road adjacent to the spectator side, the just kept coming. The crowd turned out to be the largest 1-day crowd at Lions ever, 16,200 swarmed the place!

The first round went off about 6:30pm. Not 1 oil down, 64 push started Top Fuel cars, entering on the track thru the top end gate, pushed towards the line where they turned around where Larry Sutton was waiting, it took 90 minutes to run round 1. Race upon race, hour after hour this epic race proceeded, the atmosphere was electric, for dad and I, huge dragster fans, we were in "our" element at "our" track, Lions was rocking!

I believe the race was over about 1:00am. we had been at the track for over 13 hours but it felt like minutes.

The Winners
AA/FD-Don Prudhomme over Beebe & Mulligan
Top Gas-The Freight Train beat Gerry Glenn
Jr. Fuel-Tom Barros beat Frank Britt

Low E.T.-A tie between Prudhomme and Larry Dixon in the Smirnoff ride-7.01
Top Speed-James Warren-227.50mph.
Top Gas. The Freight Train ran low et. at a record breaking 7.34!
Top Speed The Freight Train broke the 200 barrier with a 200+ run!! The car ran 201,200,199, and 200mph in the 4 rounds, wow.

What a race, what a crowd, what a track, thank you Lions, it was epic!


[email protected] Short Track Announcer
 

Cliff

Nitro Member
I missed that race. I was in the Air Force from July 1964 - July 1968. My first base, Walker AFB in Roswell NM (yes, that Roswell) had closed & I was sent to Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, Montana. So while Lions was running the race, I was wondering why mosquitos were in Montana. Heh I think Montana had one active track, Lewistown, but I never got to go there. When I was in NM, we did have a track on the base in 1966 and Carlsbad NM had an AHRA track that I went to. Closest "big" track was Amarillo Texas.
 

unclebob

Nitro Member
I don't have the memory I used to have, but I was there, Meyer-Fitt- Gerth T/F with a 331 Mike Gerth/Ron Winkle built motor. Denny Fitt was the driver. We qualified 13th of 64, beat the "Purple Gang" first round, but split two cylinder walls in that little motor 2nd round. Fun memories....
 

Cliff

Nitro Member
Bob, did you guys run a "Lions night motor"? Used to hear stories of guys running a 354" Chrysler at night, cuz the dew would creep in, less traction, & the 354 made less HP, more chance to win on dewy track.
 

Nick Name

Nitro Member
When I first saw the title, I thought it was plugging something up coming. I was getting ready to respond, "you guys obviously weren't at PDA Lions. Then I read the story.
 

Cliff

Nitro Member
Lions had so many heads up classes. I used to love BB/GS, they ran around 9.90. The Sassy Gremlin, Gremlin w/ blown Chrysler. Charlie Saucedo from Tijuana. A bunch more, put on a good show. Of course, Top Gas, AA/FA, JR/F. SR/G dragster (like A/D of the day), JR/G dragster, injected alky F/C, Ken Veney, Dale Armstrong, Wilford Boutilier in that group. Oh, and Bracket 1 in ET racing. the fast cars, low 10's & maybe a bit quicker. Vintage GTO, 1930's Pontiac coupe with a rat motor. They were fun to watch. Glendale Speed Center had a Nova w/ sb Chevy, ran 9.9 & could stand it up on the back bumper.
 

Cliff

Nitro Member
I remember the Marrs Boys. Was a '63 split window, right? Painted green? Have a photo of it somewhere.
 

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