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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

NHRA's 50th Anniversary:
This Month in NHRA History -- February

by nhra.com

The first Winternationals are staged in 1961. Dubbed "The Big Go West," Jack Chrisman, Mickey Thompson, Dick Manz, Johnny Loper, and Don Nicholson are their respective eliminator champions for the first event at Pomona. 
The Christmas Tree was used for the first time in Winternationals competition in 1964. 
Don Prudhomme wins the first of his 49 NHRA national event titles at the 1965 Winternationals in Roland Leong's Hawaiian dragster, which was run in an entire day due to inclement weather. 
Shirley Shahan becomes the first female to win a national event as she scores the victory at the 1966 Winternationals in Top Stock. 
Both Don Garlits and Don Prudhomme fail to qualify for the 1967 Winternationals. 
In 1970, Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins defeats Ronnie Sox at the first ever Pro Stock final at Pomona. The 16-car Pro Stock was field was made up of eight Chrysler products, five Camaros and three Ford Mavericks. 
NHRA holds its first ever race in the Southeast as the new Gainesville Raceway hosts the inaugural Gatornationals in 1970. 
Chrondek introduces its latest timing equipment at the 1971 Winternationals. A built-in computer displayed the speed automatically to the tower announcers, eliminating conversion charts. 
Don Garlits debuts his state-of-the-art rear engine dragster, and captures the 1971 Winternationals title. 
In 1974, Don Prudhomme unveils his new sponsor, the U.S. Army, on his Funny Car and Top Fueler. 
Use of Keith Black's new aluminum Hemi block gains momentum in 1974. 
Chris Economaki, of National Speed Sport News, hosts ABC's television coverage of the Winternationals for the first time in 1975. 
In 1975, trophies were handed out for class wins at national and divisional events as well as Best Appearing Car, Best Engineered Car, Best Appearing Crew, and Long Distance awards were smaller versions of the driver-and-wheel national event trophy. 
CBS Sports announces it will cover the 1977 Springnationals and the 1977 World Finals. 
The Hollywood Squares TV game show, which sponsored Rod Dunne's Top Fuel dragster, offers a complete trip for two to the Cajun Nationals as one of its prizes in 1977. 
At the 1979 Winternationals, Don Garlits is bumped out of the Top Fuel program on the final qualifying session and failed to qualify for the first time in a decade. 
Shirley Muldowney records her fifth national event win by knocking off former teammate Connie Kalitta in the Top Fuel final at the 1980 Winternationals. 
The timing computer that gives a true-win light on the finish-line scoreboard, indicating if a driver red-lighted or broke out, debuts at the Winternationals in 1981. 
In 1982, NHRA and Anheuser-Busch announces the creation of the Big Bud Shootout, which paid $25,000 to the winner of the special eight-car Funny Car field at the U.S. Nationals. 
In 1984, 'Heart like a Wheel,' a film based on the life of three-time Top Fuel champion Shirley Muldowney, is released in theaters across the country. 
Frank Iaconio and Butch Leal debut Funny Car-style roll cages in their Pro Stockers, which are now a permanent fixture in the category's chassis design. 
Darrell Gwynn wins his first national event and becomes the first to run in the 5.4's in Top Fuel at the 1986 Winternationals. 
Shirley Muldowney appears as a guest on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon in 1986. 
The 1988 Winternationals mark the debut of 330' and 660' timing lights. 
Connie Kalitta becomes the first racer to go over 290 mph in 1989. 
Cruz Pedregon makes his racing debut at the 1991 Winternationals in Larry Minor's Otter Pops dragster. 
Doug Herbert becomes the second driver to surpass 300 mph going 301.60 at the 1993 Winternationals. 
Scott Geoffrion defeats teammate Darrell Alderman at the 1994 Ford Quality Care Nationals in the first all-Dodge Pro Stock final in more than 20 years. 
The Joe Gibbs-owned McDonald's team made its debut at the 1995 Winternationals with Cory McClenathan driving the Top Fueler and Cruz Pedregon at the wheel of the Funny Car. 
Gary Scelzi wins the 1997 Winternationals in his Top Fuel debut. 
Bob Glidden, at the time drag racing's all-time winner, announces his retirement in 1997. 
Larry Dixon, Jr. and Ron Capps win the Top Fuel and Funny Cars titles respectively at the 1998 Winternationals for owner Don Prudhomme. 
Tony Schumacher clocks the first 330-mph run in 1999 at Phoenix. 
The 2000 Winternationals are the first event to incorporate the new 90-percent nitro rule. As well as penalizing drivers for oildowns.

Check out the NHRA 50th anniversary website for more great information: http://nhra.com/50th/index.html

 

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