Tue, 17 Jul 2012, 18:00 PM
Happy 700th Birthday
By Bob Frey
Photo copyright 2012 Auto Imagery, Inc.
Bill Jenkins won the 1st, Jim Yates won the 300th,
Johnson won the 400th and Greg Anderson won the 500th Pro Stock races.
Having recently celebrated the 700th race in the
Funny Car class it's now time to turn our attention to Pro Stock. Did you know that this year's Mopar Mile-High Nationals will be the
scene of the 700th Pro Stock race at NHRA national events? From its
humble beginnings at the 1970 Winternationals to the most recent race, the Vincent Nobile tribute race in Norwalk,
Ohio, Pro Stock cars, teams and drivers have amazed drag racing fans with their
performance, level of competition and the closeness of the fields. Did you know that at the 2002
race in Joliet, Illinois, the gap between the number one qualifier, Gene Wilson and the number sixteen
driver, Mark Osborne, was a scant
..023 seconds? Now that's close, and as much as the other Full Throttle classes try they can't compare to the overall
strength of the Pro Stock cars.
Bill Jenkins defeated Ronnie Sox at the 1970 Winternationals
race for the first Pro Stock win.
Every drag racing fans knows that Bill Jenkins beat Ronnie Sox
at Pomona in 1970 to win the first ever Pro Stock race, but what they may not
know is that the bump spot at that race was 10.49, times that are now being
turned in by "Stock" cars. Still, forty-two years ago, fans were stunned by the
performance of the gasoline burning, stock appearing cars, and they were the
hit of the '70 Winternationals. In addition to the "Grump" and Ronnie, the
field included such stars as Wally Booth,
Dick Landy, Don Carlton, Don Nicholson
and others. Among those "others" were Ed
Miller, Sam Auxier and Dick Humbert, all drivers who had an
impact on the sport in one way or another. Even the non-qualifiers, although I
have to admit the full list has escaped me to this date, were notables in the
sport. Ed Schartman, Hubert Platt and Ed Terry were among those that couldn't quite make the 10.49 cut.
In the end, the fans got what they came for, a matchup between two legends,
even then, and the "Grump" didn't disappoint the Chevrolet fans as he ran 9.99
to beat Ronnie's 10.12 in the final. The times may not sound spectacular, but
the times they "were a changing" in the sport and Pro Stock has been a vital
part of every national event since then. Heck, even Funny Car can't make that
Lee Shepherd defeated Bob Glidden at the 1981 Sanair
Grandnationals race for the 100th win.
With national events few and far between back then, it was
eleven years before we reached race number 100 in Pro Stock, and the milestone
came at, of all places, Montreal,
Canada. At the 1981
race in Sanair, Pro Stock was an eight-car field and the bump spot was 8.51 and
was held by Don Campanello.
Regardless of what race it was and where it took place, if it was in the 1980's
it shouldn't come as a surprise that the top qualifier was Bob Glidden who ripped off a time of 8.31 to grab the top spot with
a run that also stood as low elapsed time of the meet. While Bob went on to
make it to the final round he wasn't able to get the win because he fouled out
against his arch-rival, Lee Shepherd.
Did you know that Bob fouled
in six final rounds in his entire career and that half of them came against
Lee? One other thing that Bob didn't do at that race was set top speed. Did you know that Canadian star, Alban Gauthier, ran 162.45 and that was
the fastest Pro Stock run at that event? It was also one of only two times that
Alban's Mopar was the fastest car on the property.
Bob Glidden defeated Warren Johnson at the 1989 Memphis race for
the 200th win.
The races started coming more frequently in the '80's and so
race number 200 for the Pro Stock cars took place just eight years later in Memphis. There, the bump
spot was a 7.401 and was held by Jerry
Haas, who would be part of a couple of the milestone races in the class
history..Now if you follow the class even casually, it will come as no surprise
that Bob Glidden was also number one at the '89 Memphis race. His 7.282 was
substantially better than the second place driver, Warren Johnson, who checked in with a 7.325. Among others in that
field were Larry Morgan, Bruce Allen and Frank Iaconio, so whoever won the race had to navigate his way past
some of the top drivers in the sport's history. That winner would be, drum roll
please, Bob Glidden. Bob met up with Warren
in the final round and outran him 7.287 to a losing 7.374, a mismatch by
today's standards. Did you know
that Bob and Warren faced each other seventy-three times and that Bob won
forty-two of those races? And he won twelve of the eighteen final round
meetings between the two Hall of Fame drivers.
Jim Yates defeated Mark Osborne at the 1994 Brainerd race for
the 300th win.
It only took five years to reel off another one hundred
races and event number 300 in the Pro Stock class took place in Brainerd, Minnesota
in 1994. With a bump spot of 7.279, a number turned in by Jerry Haas, it was
easy to see that the cars continued to get quicker, although simple math will
show you that the performance gains were harder to come by as elapsed times
went lower and speeds went higher. One of the "Dodge Boys," Darrell Alderman, paced the field with
a 7.148 while WJ eventually set top speed at 193.67. Did you know that was one of Warren's record-setting 221 top speeds in his
great career? To show you how good that is, or how good he is, did you know that the driver with
the second most top speeds to his credit in any pro class is John Force with 115? But back to
Brainerd! Among the qualifiers at that race were David Rampy, Terry Adams
and Tim Freeman, all drivers who
have distinguished themselves in the sport in a variety of ways since that '94
race. In the end, Jim Yates beat Mark Osborne to win the 300th
Pro Stock race and he had to beat Tim, Butch
Abbott and Darrell before facing Mark.
Kurt Johnson defeated Jim Yates at the 1999 Seattle race for the
Jim Yates was also part of race number 400 in the Pro Stock
class, but this time he came out on the short end of the final. The race took
place in Seattle
in 1999 and Kurt Johnson was the man
who beat Jim in the final round. Kurt started the day from the number two spot
behind his dad, Warren, who ran 6.901 to take the top spot from Kurt who logged
a 6.909. Did you know that was
one of thirty-six times that Warren and Kurt qualified one and two in the field
(in either order)?...The field included Allen
Johnson, John Nobile, Tony Gillig and V. Gaines who occupied the bump spot with his 6.974. Of those who
didn't make the field were three drivers who will be in Denver this weekend, Ron Krisher, Mike Edwards
and Greg Anderson. As the day went
on it began to look like Warren and Kurt might
meet in the final round but Jim made sure that didn't happen when he beat Warren in the
semi-finals, and that didn't happen very often. Did you know that Warren and Jim raced each other
sixty-seven times and Warren
won forty-six of those races and that's the most wins for WJ against any
opponent?....Still, it was Jim who won the Seattle race in 1999, along with two
dozen others to make him the driver with the tenth most wins in the history of
Greg Anderson defeated Jeg Coughlin at the 2003 Dallas race for
the 500th win.
Less than four years later we went to Dallas and that was the site of the 500th
Pro Stock race. At that race Greg Anderson paced the field with his 6.826 which
was just enough to hold off the second place driver, Dave Connolly and his 6.835. This field included a lot of the tour
regulars and future Hall of Fame drivers, but it also included some who didn't
do a lot of Pro Stock racing, like Taylor
Lastor, Mike Corvo and Gene Wilson. One tour regular, and one
of the most competitive drivers in the class, Mark Pawuk, anchored the field with his 6.879 while Jim Yates,
Darrell Alderman and Ken Koretsky
missed the cut..The final round came down to a match between two of the greats
in the history of the class, Greg Anderson and Jeg Coughlin, and on that day Jeg was a little too anxious and
fouled out giving the win to Greg. Did
you know that Jeg has only fouled out in two final rounds in his career
and that they have both come against the same driver, Greg Anderson?...Oh, by
the way, top speed at that race was 203.71 and was set by none other than
Warren Johnson. Do you see a pattern developing here?
Mike Edwards defeated Jason Line at the 2008 Atlanta race for
the 600th win.
Race number 600 in the Pro Stock wars came in Atlanta in 2008 and the
field ran from Ron Krisher's 6.644 to Mr. Glidden's 6.728. Oh, did I mention
that it was Bill Glidden, not Bob on
the bump spot that day? Did you know
that Bill raced at thirty-four NHRA national events in Pro Stock and that he
qualified for twenty-four of them? Among those joining Bill in the field were Justin Humphreys, Dave Northrop and Rickie
Jones..The two finalists that day were Mike Edwards and Jason Line, and in one of the rare
occurrences in Pro Stock history, the two of them ran the exact same elapsed
time, 6.680 in the final round, a round that was won by Mike thanks to his .009
reaction time. Did you know
that Mike's great reaction time in the final round came after he posted a .008
reaction time in the semi-finals against Jeg? Not bad, is it? Oh, and stop me
if you've heard this before, top speed was 207.98 and was set by, drum roll
please, Warren Johnson. What are the odds?
Warren Johnson at the 1978 Winternationals, where he set top
So there you have it, the Reader's Digest condensed version
of 699 Pro Stock races. For the record, Warren Johnson has been at the most
races, 627 of them, while Larry Morgan is second at 532 and Kurt is third with
430..As we head to Bandimere Speedway for race number 700 you have to like
Allen Johnson's chances of winning. First of all, he has a really good car and
it is his sponsor, Mopar's, big event.
Plus, from what I've heard, he made some monster runs last week in testing.
And, maybe most importantly, he always does well at the high altitude track. Did you know that Allen has been
to the final round in Denver
in each of the last five years and that he has won three of those races? For
some reason his Hemi Dodge just runs
well on the mountain and I see no reason why this year should be any
different...Having said that, keep your eyes on V. Gaines this week. I've been
on the "V" bandwagon for a few weeks now, and since this is his home track I
look for him to do well, too. Hey, maybe it will be an all Mopar final round! Did you know that if that
happened it would be the first all Mopar final round in Mile-High Pro Stock history?
Force defeated Hagan last year for the Denver Funny Car title.
Besides Pro Stock there will be battles in Top Fuel, Funny
Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle in Denver
this week, too. The struggle for the top spot in Funny Car is ongoing between Robert Hight and Ron Capps, but you'll excuse me if I say that's not nearly as
important as the fight for the last spot in the "Countdown." With his final
round finish in Norwalk
Tim Wilkerson has jumped into
contention and he is now within striking distance of John Force and tenth
place. There are less than two rounds separating the pair, and you still have
to figure that Alexis DeJoria and Matt Hagan are primed to make a run at
that last spot. The "Western Swing" has always been a real challenge to man and
machine and this year it could be the make or break stretch for drivers trying
to earn a spot in the top ten...If history is any indication you would have to
like John's chances in Denver. Did you
know that he has won the Mile High Nationals six times in his career?
Of course, only one of those wins came after 2003 and that was his win last
year. He was the runner-up in 2010 so that makes two consecutive finals for him
and he would love to make it three...Matt Hagan will be flying the Mopar colors
this week and he'll be looking to go a little further than he did last year
when he was the runner-up to John...And Tim, who could also use another good
outing, has one win in Denver (2008) but he also has a history of getting hot
when the weather does. If that's the case the Denver event will play right into his hands
because it's supposed to be ninety-five degrees all three days this weekend.
There were a couple of notable winners at the Division 6 Lucas Oil race in Woodburn this past
weekend. First of all, Gregg Lawrence
surprised Chris Demke in the final
round of the Top Alcohol Dragster class. Did
you know that this was the third divisional win for Gregg and his first
since 2003? And did you know
that all three of Gregg's wins have come at the Woodburn track?....Also, Jay Payne put himself right into
contention for the Top Alcohol Funny Car national championship when he stopped Steve Gasparrelli in the final. Did you know that this was Jay's
66th divisional win and that moved him past Bob Newberry and into sole possession of second place on the all
time divisional win list? Congratulations, Jay..Also, Larry Miner won the Super
Street class (not his first win), but I thought it
was interesting that three different drivers by the name of Larry Miner (or
Minor) have won NHRA races. What are the odds!
With everything that is at stake this week, there is a really
important thing that I would like to make you all aware of. Our friends at Goodyear are running a promotion that
is aimed at raising money for our men and women in uniform and it includes some
very nice items that are up for auction. Among those items is a "Meet and
Greet" with some of the Team Force
drivers at the Auto Club Finals in
November. That, alone, would be reason to check it out but there are a lot of
other really neat things up for grabs. If you would like to find out more
information about it go to www.Goodyear.com
and click on the "Goodyear Gives Back"
logo. I applaud the folks at Goodyear for all they do to help the members of
our armed forces, and good luck to you if you bid on some of the items.
And, a reminder..tickets are going fast for the big tribute
to Linda Vaughn that will take place
in Indy the Wednesday night before the U.S. Nationals. An all-star cast of roasters
has been lined up including Chip Ganassi,
Bob Glidden, John Force and more. The event will be held at the Lucas family estate
in Carmel and
gets underway at 6:00. There will be live and silent auction items, a dinner
and a fun time for everyone. The event is to benefit the QuarterMile Foundation and you can get tickets and more information
by calling Traci Hrudka at 440-888-0088
or by sending an e-mail to Hrudka@sbcglobal.net.
By the way, did I mention that I would be hosting the event? Please don't let
that sway you one way or the other because it will still be a good night.
NHRA: 10 Most Recent Entries [ top ]
May 25- FEATURE- From the Tower by Bob Frey
May 24- FEATURE- Remembering On Tour with Steve Reyes
May 22- FEATURE- From the Tower by Bob Frey
May 21- FEATURE- Did You Know? by Bob Frey
May 21- TOPEKA - Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Wrap Up
May 20- ENGLISHTOWN - Toyota NHRA Summernationals Returns to Englishtown
May 20- TOPEKA - Special Awards
May 19- TOPEKA - Sunday Wrap Up
May 19- TOPEKA - Championship Points
May 19- TOPEKA - Bonus Points
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