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Danny's Corner
Sep 10, 2010

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Top 10 Exhibition Racers of All Time

Text by Danny White

1 Bill Golden

The Little Red Wagon was meant to be a serious racer but became something totally different. Bill Maverick Golden turned the mistake into a career and helped create a whole new genre. (Hector Leal Photo)

2 Roger Gustin

Teamed with jet pioneer Romeo Palamides in the 1970s, Roger became the first legal NHRA jet car team after the ban was lifted. Gustin became famous for the Lava Machine cars in the 1980s. (David Oakes Photo) 

3 Art and Walt Arfons

The brothers raced apart but I feel they belong together on this list because their careers paralleled one another. They began as regular racers, but built dragsters with airplane engines. Those engines were outlawed by the NHRA,so they turned to running exhibitions. They built jet dragsters and later Walt built many jet funny cars.   

4 Hemi Under Glass

Next to the Little Red Wagon, the HUG is the most famous wheelstander. The HUG has had different drivers like Bob Riggle and Jack Ehrmantraut, but the name is still famous to this day. (Thomas Nagy Photo)

5 E.J. Potter

The Michigan Madman was an apt name for Potter, who braved several versions of the Widow Makers -- motorcycles powered by Chevrolet V8 engines! Potter also created vehicles such as a slot car, an Allison powered wagon, and a jet trike.

6 Sammy Miller

Slammin' Sammy was the most successful rocket racer of all time and became a legend in Europe, the only place he could race after the NHRA banned the cars in the United States. Miller ran many three- and four-second runs, culminating in the quickest and fastest run ever on a drag strip -- 3.58 seconds at 386 mph. (Steve Thomas Photo)

7 The Showboat/Wagonmaster

The four engine Buick was built by Tommy Ivo to be a serious Top Gasser but it ended up as an exhibition car. Ivo sold the car to Bob McCoury, who later added the Buick body. TV Tommy eventually bought the car back and ran it until retirement. (Photo from Hot Rod Magazine)

8 Doug Rose

Doug Rose was the premier jet dragster racer of the 1970s with the iconic Green Mamba dragster. Doug was the quickest and fastest of the era into the eighties. (Photo from Doug Rose)


9  Al Hanna

Al Hanna took jet drag racing to a higher level with the Eastern Raider cars in the 1980s. Hanna's three-car team raised the bar for professionalism and performance. (Charles Willis Photo)

10 The Turbinque Racers

There were several Turbonique powered race cars in the sixties, including the Ozark Mule funny car, Jack McClure's machine, and the car of the Studnicka Bros. The little engine was literally and figuratively like a bomb, and the company dissolved amongst lawsuits. (Photo Courtesy of Todd Hutcheson)

Honorable Mentions

Fred Sibley

Ageless jet racer famous for the cigar in his US-1 jet and father of Fred Sibley Jr. (Photo Courtesy of Curt Eiderham)

Jack McClure

A crazy man who ran fives on a go-kart to which he was attached with Velcro! (Handout Photo)

Richard Hutchins

A longtime wheelstander star in the Chevy Rebellion machines, the perfect opponent for the Little Red Wagon. (Tom Kasch Photo)


Wayne Knuth began with a turbine but switched to jets. He employed many drivers to become one of the best jet campaigners ever. (Al Tracy Photo)

Bill Mattio

The Chicago Fire is a legendary jet racer plus one of the quickest of all time. (Photo Courtesy of Al Eiderham)

Bob Hall

Bob bought the Paddy Wagon car and name from Gary Watson and increased the car's legendary status through constant touring and consistent performances. (Ron Dilley Photo)

Eric Treboul/Henk Vink

These two racers were serious Top Fuel Bike racers who went even crazier -- running rocket powered engines on two wheels. Venk blew minds in the 1980s and Treboul carries on the tradition. (Dick Parnham Photo)

Ed Jones

Ed took the 'concept' wheelstander car to the next level, running extremely popular cars fashioned after a Western Stagecoach and a bright red fire truck. (Auto Imagery Photo)

Danny O'Day

O'Day has set the performance standard for wheelstanders for the past two decades, and is the quickest wheelstander of all time. (David Oakes Photo)

Not on Danny's list but how could they not be:

Bob Motz and his incredible jet powered Kenworth truck.

Les Shockley and his triple engined jet powered truck.

Wild Bill Shrewsberry and his amazing L.A. Dart wheelstander, followed by his Knott's Berry Farm machine.

The terrifying Hurst Hairy Olds twin engine funny car.

The hairy Terrifying Toronado funny car.

And too many more to list... that will teach us for trying to combine all the exhibition cars into one list! - bp



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