1987 Monthly Headlines

At the season-opening Super Bowl of Drag Racing at Arizona's Firebird Int'l Raceway, the roof of reigning Winston Funny Car champ Kenny Bernstein's radical new Bud King Buick LaSabre body collapsed on a 5.69, 253.52-mph run, and Darrell Gwynn debuted his Budweiser streamliner Top Fueler.

Don Garlits scored his first Winternationals victory since 1975 with a brilliant 5.29, 270.27 to defeat Joe Amato in the Top Fuel final. The 5.60 Top Fuel bump was the second-quickest of all time. Bernstein paced the quickest Funny Car field ever with a national record 5.48 and ran a 5.49 in the final to beat upstart Graeme Cowin. After three straight runner-ups, Warren Johnson won his first Winternationals Pro Stock title. Johnson qualified No. 2 behind Bob Glidden in the quickest Pro Stock field ever and in the semifinals ran a 7.40, low e.t. and the second-quickest Pro Stock run in history, before beating Butch Leal in the final with a 7.43.

Danny Byrd's gasoline/nitrous-oxide Alcohol Dragster became the first carbureted drag racing machine to top 200 mph (205.57) during qualifying at the Division 4 race at Texas Motorplex. Amato defeated Gwynn in the Gatornationals Top Fuel final in the quickest side-by-side race in history, 5.29 to 5.30. Gwynn qualified his Budweiser streamliner on the pole with a national record 5.22. Bob Strauss' 5.58 anchored the record field. Don Prudhomme won his first NHRA Funny Car crown since July 1982. Prudhomme ran a 5.72 to defeat Johnny West in the final. Leal defeated a red-lighting Glidden in the Pro Stock final, and Terry Vance reset both ends of the national record (8.09, 165.04) en route to winning the Pro Stock Bike title.

Gwynn and Bernstein scored a double win for Budweiser at the Southern Nationals in Atlanta. Gwynn ran a national record 5.20 en route to a final-round victory over Amato in Top Fuel, and Bernstein set low e.t. and top speed en route to the Funny Car final, where he defeated John Force. Amato also set a national record, running 279.24 mph. Glidden won Pro Stock, defeating Leal in the final.

NHRA announced that it would expand its Winston Drag Racing Series in 1988, adding at least two events to the 14-race schedule. After a one-week rain delay, Dick LaHaie (Top Fuel), Bernstein (Funny Car), Leal (Pro Stock), and Rick Stetson (Pro Stock Bike) won their respective classes at the Cajun Nationals in Baton Rogue, La. In the finals, LaHaie defeated No. 1 qualifier Amato, Bernstein beat West, Leal turned back Bruce Allen, and Stetson upset low qualifier Dave Schultz.

LaHaie scored his second straight national event title with a Top Fuel victory at the Springnationals. LaHaie qualified No. 1 and in the final ran 5.35, low e.t., to defeat Gary Ormsby's up-in-smoke 5.51. Billy Meyer ended a three-year drought with a final-round victory over Jim Head in Funny Car, and Glidden beat Leal in the Pro Stock final. After nine runner-ups, Force finally put an end to his final-round jinx with a win at Le Grandnational-Molson in Montreal. Force qualified his Castrol GTX Firenza on the pole and ran a 5.64, low e.t., in the semifinals against Meyer before beating an up-in-smoke Ed McCulloch in final. LaHaie won his third straight in Top Fuel, defeating Amato in the final with a 5.26, low e.t., and Leal won for the third time in six straight final-round appearances with a victory over Allen.

Ormsby scored a surprising Top Fuel win at the Summernationals, defeating a wheelstanding Amato in the final. Amato ended No. 1 qualifier LaHaie's three-race win streak in the semifinals, but not before LaHaie reset the national e.t. mark with a 5.17. Mark Oswald ran a 5.52, low e.t., en route to the Funny Car final only to lose to No. 1 qualifier Bernstein when he deployed the parachute too early. Oswald, who ran a 5.53 at only 232.91 mph, lost to Bernstein's 5.56. Mike Dunn ran 270.43 mph for a new national speed record. In Pro Stock, Jerry Eckman won his first national event, defeating Allen in the final. Schultz beat Phil Tannery in the Pro Stock Bike final. Amato, Bernstein, and Glidden were winners at the Mile-High Nationals. Amato won for the second time in 1987 when he defeated Frank Bradley in the final. Bernstein, whose Funny Car win was his fifth of the year, defeated No. 1 qualifier Force, and Glidden beat Allen for his third win of the season.

Gwynn returned to the winner's circle after a midseason slump, defeating a broken Dan Pastorini in the NorthStar Nationals Top Fuel final. Bernstein defeated Force in the Funny Car final, and Allen won for the first time in nearly two years when he beat No. 1 qualifier Glidden in the Pro Stock final. Garlits' quest for a third straight Top Fuel championship ended with a spectacular top-end blowover in Spokane, Wash. Garlits, who suffered two broken ribs and injured his back in the incident, was testing a new dual-element rear wing during qualifying when the front end of his Super Shops streamliner went skyward at about the 1,000-foot mark.

Amato won his first U.S. Nationals Top Fuel title in impressive fashion, becoming the first to break the 280-mph barrier with a 282.13-mph qualifying blast. Amato then defeated LaHaie in the final in the quickest side-by-side race in drag racing history, 5.26 to Amato's quicker 5.25. Funny Car winner Bernstein equaled Prudhomme's single-season record with his seventh win of the year. In the final, Bernstein defeated Dunn, who in round one against Chuck Etchells had reset the national speed record at 274.64 mph in the sport's first side-by-side 270-mph Funny Car race. Glidden qualified No. 1, had low e.t., and reset the national speed record at 191.32 mph en route to his eighth U.S. Nationals victory in Pro Stock. Glidden defeated Darrell Alderman in the final. In Pro Stock Bike, Schultz scored his third straight win. After a one-week rain delay, LaHaie won the Keystone Nationals Top Fuel title with a final-round victory over Ormsby in the quickest side-by-side race in history, 5.14 to 5.22. LaHaie also set a national e.t. record (5.11), and Amato reset the speed mark (280.98). Oswald qualified No. 1 and had low e.t. and top speed en route to his first win of 1987. Oswald defeated a tire-smoking Force in the final. Pro Stock winner Glidden also qualified No. 1 and posted low e.t. and top speed in his final-round victory over Tony Christian.

Chief Auto Parts Nationals Top Fuel winner Gwynn made the quickest run in drag racing history in his final-round victory over Eddie Hill. Gwynn, who qualified third with a 5.13 and ran 5.12, 5.16, and 5.09 en route to the final, ran a 5.08 against Hill for a new national record. Hill reset the national speed record (285.98), and Amato posted the fastest run ever (287.72). In Funny Car, McCulloch qualified No. 1 with a 5.36, low e.t., and backed it up with a 5.41 in the final for a new national record, defeating Raymond Beadle. Dunn also set a national record, becoming the first Funny Car driver to break the 280-mph barrier (280.72). Glidden paced the record Pro Stock field (7.46) and reset the national e.t. record at 7.35 en route to a final-round victory over Leal and his sixth win of the season. Vance became the first Pro Stock Bike rider in the sevens with a 7.99, but George Bryce won the race, defeating Mike Keyte in the final. LaHaie won his fifth Top Fuel title of 1987 with a final-round victory over Hill at the Fallnationals. Oswald qualified No. 1 and had low e.t. en route to a final-round victory over Beadle in Funny Car, and Glidden clinched his eighth Winston championship with a victory in Pro Stock. Glidden, who qualified No. 1 and had low e.t. and top speed, defeated Leal in the final.

LaHaie clinched the Winston Top Fuel title with a semifinal win over Amato at the rain-delayed Winston Finals but lost to Gwynn in the final. Meyer defeated an up-in-smoke McCulloch in the Funny Car final for his second win of the season, and Glidden won his 60th in typical fashion. Glidden qualified No. 1 and had low e.t. and top speed en route to a final-round victory over a red-lighting Joe Lepone.

NHRA rejected a proposal to sell its assets to a for-profit corporation controlled by Meyer, who recently had purchased the International Hot Rod Association.

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