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Meet The Top 10 Drag Racing Legends

Meet The Top 10 Drag Racing Legends

In the NHRA’s first 50 years, the top ten racers have won many championships. Part of being able to win is using quality race car performance parts, especially since these racers abuse their vehicles. Top fuel and funny car racers have to refresh or rebuilt their engines after every round. Depending on the speed of the race car, that could be as little as 3.5 seconds. The legends are listed in alphabetical order.

Top 10 Drag Racing Legends:

Joe Amato

Joe Amato won NHRA Winston Top Fuel championships five times during his career. He was also the first person to go 280 mph and run the quarter mile in less than 4.6 seconds. He won five national events in the alcohol dragster class and then won 52 event titles in top fuel. He also won five NHRA Winston Top Fuel championships.

Dale Armstrong

Dale Armstrong won 12 NHRA national events in the pro comp class and broke records in the funny car class. From 1985 through 1988, he won four funny car championships and in 1996 won the top fuel crown. He was the first driver to use wind tunnel testing. He also developed the lock-up-style clutch that is currently used in racing. In addition to driving, Dale was the crew chief for Kenney Bernstein and Jerry Toliver.

Kenny Bernstein

Kenny Bernstein won NHRA Winston championships in top fuel and funny car. He was one of Budweiser’s first sponsorships. Anheuser-Busch is now the second longest racer sponsor in motorsports. Kenny was also the first racer to surpass 300 mph and the first again to reach 310 mph. He has 30 national funny car titles and 22 top fuel national titles.

John Force

John Force is probably the most well-known driver in NHRA history. He has 97 career victories in funny car and won the NHRA championships 10 times. He was the first driver to pass the 320 mph mark and is the only driver who has 13 wins in one season. He is also the only driver to have won the Driver of the Year (1996).

Don Garlits

Don Garlits designed, built, tuned, managed, drove and did more for racing than any other driver. Known as “Big Daddy,” Don is a drag racing icon. He won three top fuel championships and 35 NHRA national events. Big Daddy was also the first driver to hit 270 mph – after he broke several other speed records for his time. His Swamp Rat XXX dragster is in the Smithsonian Institution.

Additional Hall of Fame contenders:

Additional racers include Bob Glidden with 85 NHRA wins; Bill Jenkins, who made the small-block Chevy famous in racing circles; Warren Johnson with 86 NHRA pro stock victories; Shirley Muldowney, the first lady of racing and three-time top fuel championship with 18 national event wins; and Don “The Snake” Prudhomme who won four Winston Funny Car championships in a row.


Photograph credit: Atlanta Motor Speedway