NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

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An old NHRA charter club decal from The Lyle R. Johnson Collection.
Jack Eaton's National Hot Rod Association business card from the 1960s. Eaton was a photographer for the NHRA. The card was advertised for sale on eBay in June of 2023. Click here to visit the auction.
The Strokers of Saginaw is a car club from Saginaw, Michighan. Established in 1955, the club was one of the NHRA charter clubs. The club was still active in 2020, celebrating its 65th anniversary. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Russell.

The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) is a North American governing body that sets rules in drag racing and hosts events throughout the United States and Canada. Founded by Wally Parks in May 1951, the NHRA claims to be the world's largest motorsports sanctioning body with over 40,000 drivers in its rosters​.[1]

The association's roots can be traced back to the post-World War II years, when hot rodders congregated on dry lake beds in California's Mojave Desert, such as Muroc, where speeds first topped 100 mph. It was born out of a desire to organize and promote the sport of drag racing, as well as to differentiate responsible hot-rodders from reckless street racers​.[2]

Wally Parks

Wally Parks, the founder of NHRA, was an editor of Hot Rod Magazine and a dry lakes racer himself. In the early years, he worked to promote safety, sportsmanship, and fellowship among hot rodders. He also played a crucial role in organizing the Southern California Timing Association and the first SCTA Speed Week in 1949, where racers began running "against the clock" for the first time, focusing on quicker acceleration rather than just high top speeds​.[2]

The Nationals

The first official NHRA race was held in April 1953 in Pomona, California. The NHRA's first national event, simply called "the Nationals," took place in 1955 in Great Bend, Kansas​​. The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, which includes 24 races each year, is the premier series in drag racing, featuring the best drag racers from across North America and the world. It consists of four professional classes: Top Fuel Dragster, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle. Additionally, more than a dozen Sportsman Classes are contested at NHRA Divisional races​.[2]

Growth and Success

Over the years, NHRA has experienced considerable growth and success, boasting 50,000 members and over 35,000 licensed competitors. NHRA hosts drag racing events for enthusiasts of all levels, from youth ages 5 to 17 in the NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League up to the top of the professional ranks with the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. NHRA events take place at 120 member tracks across North America​.[2]


NHRA is also known for its diversity, with over 20 categories of competition and a multicultural array of champions. For example, Antron Brown became the first African-American to win a major auto racing title in the United States in 2012​.[2]

Show Must Go On

While the NHRA was affected by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021, with events like the Drag Racing Series in Virginia being cancelled, regular scheduling resumed in 2022​​.[2]

As of 2023, the NHRA continues to host a variety of events, as seen on their official website​​.



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