Race Weekend Central

Nitro Shots: Living History

One of the changes for this season for Nitro Shots was the plan to put more of an emphasis on the history of the NHRA and of drag racing in general. It makes for great content during off-weeks when the NHRA news is slow and history is important.

It’s important whether it’s world history, natural history, or sports history. It’s important to understand where we’ve been, how we got where we are, and it even helps sometimes to give an understanding of where we’re going.

As I’ve noted before, I’m fairly new to drag racing, or at least I am given how much drag racing has happened overall. Other than some vague memories of Wide World of Sports in the 1970s, mostly of the Snake and Mongoose, Shirley Muldowney, and Connie Kalitta, and then another smattering of exposure during the RPM2Night era on ESPN, I really never followed it. My interest was primarily with stock cars and Indy cars.

Roughly five years ago, after my interest in some aspects of the circular racing world waned, I found myself shifted to the straight-line cars. I liked the sport a great deal, and I’ve enjoyed covering it ever since, but sometimes I feel like I lack context. History provides that context. This is the long way of saying that this history series is as much for my benefit as I hope it is to the benefit and enjoyment of readers. We’ll learn together.

For those who already know the history, feel free to set it straight if there’s something that we miss or get wrong. History is also daunting at times, especially if there’s a lot of it to pick apart. It can be easy to get lost, sidetracked, or just plain get it confused. Feel free to share your own memories. Or just let us know you enjoy reading about it.

The first installment featured Bob Glidden. I’d heard of Glidden, of course. I knew he was a legend in the sport. I knew he raced Pro Stock cars in what many consider the prime years for the class. But I didn’t really know as much about him as I’d like to understand his legacy. I feel a bit closer to understanding now and hope our readers do as well.

I also know who Lee Shepherd, Don Garlits, Shirley Muldowney and Connie Kalitta are. But like Glidden, not to the extent really necessary to understand why they are legends and what they’ve contributed overall to the sport. They’ll figure into future history installments, as well as many others.

Let us know if there is someone you think made significant contributions that you’d like to see profiled. When you’re learning the history of anything, it helps a great deal to have others who can give you directions and point out the important sights (or people) along the way.

We’ll have another history edition next week before heading to the Gatornationals, but for this week, we’ll close this edition out with some clips.

About the author

A writer for Frontstretch since 2002, and editor since 2006, Toni heads up the NHRA coverage for the site. She’s responsible for post-race coverage in the weekly Pace Laps multi-series round-up along with the weekly Nitro Shots column featuring news and features from the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. An award-winning former writer for the Presbyterian Church, Toni works in web design and freelances with writing in North Carolina.

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