The NHRA Drag Racing Museum

Apparently, Southern California is the birthplace of organized legal drag racing. In the 1940s and '50s, there were races on dry lake beds in the Mojave Desert. Some of these were held on the same lake bed that the Space Shuttle lands on today. Still, a lot of hot rodders wanted to be able to race closer to home. In an effort to cut down on illegal street racing, some early races were held on abandoned airstrips. This was apparently the reason why drag races standardized on a quarter-mile. In racing on airstrips, they found that that was the longest distance they could race, and still be able to stop safely before running out of pavement.

The National Hot Rod Association has built a museum dedicated to the history of drag racing. It is located on the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona, just inside Gate 1. Admission is $5, parking is free. The museum is open 10-5, Wednesday through Sunday. Even though we're not that familiar with motorsports in general, this was a fun afternoon, and it is very much a piece of Southern California history and culture.

NHRA Motorsports Museum
1101 W. McKinley Ave. Building 3A.
Pomona, CA 90062 909-622-2133

Here are a few of our pictures, just to give a taste of the museum.

Just inside the front door are these classic dragsters from the '60s .
The earliest race cars were built in the '40s, using cars from the '20s. Here is an example of an 1940s hot rod.
This one is an oddity. It's a kid-sized electric dragster. I got a closeup of the sign if you want to read it.
Of course, no car museum is complete without a '57 Chevy...
The "Freight Train" was one of a few cars with multiple engines.
Here is "Big Daddy" Don Garlits' car. This is one of the first rear-engine dragsters.
Here is a commercially-made frame, so you can build a dragster in your own garage.
This car was the first to break 300MPH, back in 1992.
Parked outside the museum is the Drag Safari, which traveled around the country in the 1950s to promote safety awareness, and to help people to organize legal drag races.

November 10, 2000
copyright © 2000 by Stan Schwarz