1964 Monthly Headlines
Factory Stock Eliminator and Stock were included in the Winternationals, with each category having a '64 Dodge 440 two-door coupe as the prize. Ford Falcon Sprints were prizes for winners in Top Eliminator Fuel and Top Eliminator Gas. ... Winternationals entry was capped at 500 cars, a number reached weeks prior to the event. The list included entries from 30 states. ... Dr. Nathan Ostich was appointed to the NHRA board of directors. ... A Drag Net unit, which had netting and an inertia reel to slow cars that were in trouble, was installed for the Winternationals as a safety feature.
The Christmas Tree was used for the first time in Winternationals competition. Jack Williams and his Crossley-Williams-Swan entry took the Top Fuel crown, but not without adversity. After destroying his engine in class eliminations Saturday, Williams loaded his car, went home to Bakersfield, Calif., to install a new engine, and, after fighting a snowstorm on the return trip, won the honors Sunday. Danny Ongais took Top Gas honors, Ronnie Sox scored his first win in Factory Stock, and 1963 World Points champion Charlie Smith won Comp. Jeep Hampshire set low e.t. with a 7.85 clocking in front of 98,000 fans.
For the first time since 1957, NHRA announced that fuel-burning cars would be part of the 1964 Nationals. ... Eddie H. (Buster) Couch was named Southeast Division director. ... Chrondek purchased the designs, patents, and manufacturing rights of the Drag-Tronic electronic starting system. ... Don Moody and the Moody & Zeuschel blown Chrysler clocked a 193.54 run during a match race at Fontana Raceway in California.
The NHRA World Points Championship, dubbed the Jackpot Circuit with $50,000 in awards available in six categories (Top Fuel, Top Gas, Competition, Street, Stock, and Little Stock), was streamlined to permit a maximum number of races and a minimum entry procedure for contestants. Under the new program, a racer had to appear at nine of the 50 meets scheduled during the year. ... Six Plymouth Barracudas were part of the awards package for Points winners. ... Bobby Vodnik, 1963 Nationals Top Eliminator champ, was voted drag racing's top driver of the year by ARFAA. ... National DRAGSTER and NHRA established the Manufacturers Cup to be presented annually to the automotive builder whose current-year cars score the most class victories each racing season. The '65 Mustang was introduced and the Manufacturers Cup program was adjusted to allow Ford to earn points for its new car. ... Frank Cannon's AA/FD set a speed mark at Pomona with a 199.10-mph shot.
Six national records were smashed during the NHRA World Championship Division 6 Grand Opener held in Arlington, Wash. ... In response to drivers' requests, NHRA announced the formation of a driver licensing program. The program was the result of a yearlong investigation into the safety of high-performance cars. Initially, licenses were required in only Top Fuel and Top Gas. ... At Maryland's Cecil County Dragway, Don Nicholson stole from Dodge the A/FX record with an 11.21, 126.22 from his '64 Mercury Comet. ... A week later Bill Shrewsberry's Comet set the speed mark at 127.53 at the Inyokern Dragstrip (Calif.) World Points meet. ... NHRA created an official entry blank request form for the 10th annual Nationals. The new form was made to permit a wider range of entries. ... The British Hot Rod Association hosted the first full-scale British drag race meet at Duxford Airfield in England.
Bill Holz, manager of York U.S. Drag-O-Way, developed a way to measure reaction time — the time it takes a driver to cross the starting line after the green. ... Drivers of all supercharged gas dragsters and open-bodied cars were required to wear aluminized, reflective, heat-resistant, and flame-proof driving suits. ... Winternationals champs Jack Williams and Danny Ongais captured the Hot Rod Magazine NHRA Regional Championship at Riverside Int'l Raceway in California. Gas Ronda earned a new Plymouth Barracuda for his Top Stock win with his Ford Thunderbolt. Ronda chose to display the 'Cuda on the showroom floor of Russ Davis Ford, where he worked as a high-performance car salesman. ... Don Garlits, while wearing a gas mask, dropped Jerry Baltes in a best-of-three race at Cecil County Dragway running an earth-shaking 7.75, 194.38.
Continental Divide Raceways in Castle Rock, Colo., hosted the state's first night race. ... After 14 years of weekly racing, Pomona Dragway was ordered by the Pomona City Council to cut its racing program down to one event per month. ... Organized drag racing hit the Hawaiian Islands when Hawaii Raceway Park in Kapolei opened its gates. ... Don Garlits, driving his self-built Wynn's Jammer AA/FD, recorded NHRA's first official double-century run with a 200.44 at Detroit Dragway. He backed it up with a 199.54 pass earlier in the day. ... Plans were implemented for a 10-car U.S. team to compete in the first British Drag Festival. ... National Trail Raceway in Columbus opened as NHRA's modern track. ... For the 10th annual National Championships at Indianapolis Raceway Park, racers would compete for more than $10,000 in cash prizes, pushing the total purse to more than $36,000. Indianapolis Raceway Park was resurfaced with a special traction mix. ... The field for the Nationals expanded from 1,000 to 1,250 cars.
Don Garlits lowered his record a with 7.78, 201.34 lap at Island Dragway in Great Meadows, N.J. ... Lee O. Ryan died at his home in Burbank, Calif. Wally Parks credited Ryan with providing the blueprint to form NHRA. In a 1951 article in Hot Rod magazine, Ryan outlined the needs and objectives of a potential hot rod association. ... Goodyear introduced a liquid-cooled driver's suit. The suit was similar to what the Apollo astronauts wore. ... Front wings became prevalent to hold down the front end of top-running dragsters at high speeds.
Don Garlits ran 7.67 to capture the Nationals Top Fuel crown over Winternationals winner Jack Williams. Norm Weekly, after demolishing an engine earlier in the event, thrashed together a new one and recorded the quickest speed to date: a 202.24-mph shot in front of 123,000 fans. Other Nationals winners were Gordon Collett, Top Gas; Roger Lindamood, Top Stock; Charlie Smith, Competition; Joe Lunati, Street; and Phil Chisholm, Junior Stock. ... Tony Nancy treated Italian fans to drag racing when he made an exhibition run at the famous Monza track in Italy. ... NASCAR legend Richard Petty powered an A/FX Plymouth to a match race victory over Junior Johnson at Richmond Dragway in Richmond, Va. ... Don Garlits, Ronnie Sox, and Tommy Ivo led the U.S. contingent during the first British Drag Festival, which featured stops at six venues in England. Ivo's 195.00 paced festival numbers. ... George Bolthoff reset the Top Gas mark at 8.33, 185.18 en route to the Half Moon Bay title.
After six months of racing action, the World Points Championship came to a close with the Grand Finale meets in Amarillo, Texas, and Phenix City, Ala. The 1964 World Points champions were Jack Williams, Top Fuel; Roy Davis, Top Gas; Gas Ronda, Top Stock; Charlie Smith, Competition; Bill Hoefer, Street; and Mike Schmitt, Junior Stock. ... Ford captured the first Manufacturers Cup. ... Darwin Doll was appointed Northeast Division director. ... Dragway 42 introduced a program for cars that had not been set up for racing. ... Maynard Rupp defeated Butch Bryant in a best-of-three race for the Division 3 Top Fuel title.
Dodge celebrated its 50th anniversary. ... After the Nationals, two disqualification cases were judged minor infractions, and the car owners were not disqualified. This was the first special meeting at which the NHRA competition committee served as a board of appeal. ... The home offices of NHRA and National DRAGSTER moved to larger quarters at 3418 W. First St. in Los Angeles.
Hayden Proffitt joined Mercury's high-performance division to drive one of the company's A/Factory Experimental Comets. ... NHRA announced a third national event, forming drag racing's Triple Crown, with the announcement of the Springnationals to be held at Bristol Int'l Dragway, which was under construction. ... New rules changes for 1965 were announced: Roll bars were required in all A/FX cars, and minimum-weight requirements for supercharged entries were adjusted according to the engine. ... Current NHRA Chief Starter Rick Stewart brought the 1964 season to a close with a Top Eliminator title at California's Carlsbad Raceway.
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