The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) is a
drag racing Drag racing is a type of motor racing in which automobiles or motorcycles compete, usually two at a time, to be first to cross a set finish line. The race follows a short, straight course from a standing start over a measured distance, most ...
governing body, which sets rules in drag racing and hosts events all over the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major unincorporated territorie ...
Canada Canada is a country in North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over , making it the world's second-largest country by tot ...
. With over 40,000 drivers in its rosters, the NHRA claims to be the largest motorsports sanctioning body in the world. The association was founded by Wally Parks in 1951 in
California California is a state in the Western United States, located along the Pacific Coast. With nearly 39.2million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the most populous U.S. state and the 3rd largest by area. It is also the m ...
to provide a
governing body A governing body is a group of people that has the authority to exercise governance over an organization or political entity. The most formal is a government, a body whose sole responsibility and authority is to make binding decisions in a taken g ...
to organize and promote the sport of
drag racing Drag racing is a type of motor racing in which automobiles or motorcycles compete, usually two at a time, to be first to cross a set finish line. The race follows a short, straight course from a standing start over a measured distance, most ...
. NHRA's first Nationals was held in 1955, in
Great Bend, Kansas Great Bend is a city in and the county seat of Barton County, Kansas, United States. It is named for its location at the point where the course of the Arkansas River bends east then southeast. As of the 2020 census, the population of the ci ...
. The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, the national event series which comprises 24 races each year, is the premier series in drag racing that brings together the best drag racers from across
North America North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the southeast by South America and the ...
and the world. The NHRA U.S. Nationals are now held at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Indiana and are officially called the U.S. Nationals. Winners of national events are awarded a trophy statue in honor of founder Wally Parks. The trophy is commonly referred to by its nickname, “ Wally”.


Wally Parks, editor of ''
Hot Rod Hot rods are typically American cars that might be old, classic, or modern and that have been rebuilt or modified with large engines optimised for speed and acceleration. One definition is: "a car that's been stripped down, souped up and made ...
'' magazine and a dry lakes racer himself, began the National Hot Rod Association to promote "safety, sportsmanship, and fellowship" among hot rodders. The association gained about 25,000 members in its first year; within six years, it had more than 57,000 members. ''Hot Rod Magazine'' and NHRA worked together to convince the general public and especially the police that there was a difference between hot-rodders and reckless street racers, sometimes known as "shot rodders". They encouraged the involvement of adults, such as auto shop teachers and garage owners. The NHRA's efforts to defend the image of the hot-rodder included a series of short films such as ''The Cool Hot Rod'' (1953) in which a delinquent teen learns that "a reckless kid in an old junker is not a hot-rodder at all. He's a square." NHRA initiated the 1954 "Drag Safari", a nationwide tour to encourage organized drag racing with an emphasis on safety. Sponsored by
Mobil Oil Mobil is a petroleum brand owned and operated by American oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil. The brand was formerly owned and operated by an oil and gas corporation of the same name, which itself merged with Exxon to form ExxonMobil in 1999. ...
, the Safari crew would meet with law enforcement and local city officials at each stop to explain their program, involve local car clubs, set up sites, and run drag races. Drag Safari would lead to the 1955 US Nationals for drag racing. The
coronavirus pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The novel virus was first identified ...
affected the NHRA's plans in both 2020 and 2021 as a part of the disease's spread inside the U.S., with its Drag Racing Series held in
Virginia Motorsports Park Virginia Motorsports Park (VMP) is a 1/4 mile (0.402 km) dragstrip in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, just outside of Petersburg.Dinwiddie County being cancelled both years. Regular scheduling resumed with said events taking place from Friday, May 13th to Sunday, May 15th in 2022 as planned.


NHRA Championship Drag Racing Series

The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series is the top division of the NHRA. It consists of four professional classes: *
Top Fuel Top Fuel is a type of drag racing whose dragsters are the quickest accelerating racing cars in the world and the fastest sanctioned category of drag racing, with the fastest competitors reaching speeds of and finishing the runs in 3.62 seconds ...
Dragster * Funny Car * Pro Stock *
Pro Stock Motorcycle Pro Stock Motorcycle, formerly known as Pro Stock Bike, is a motorcycle drag racing class that is the two-wheeled equivalent of Pro Stock. It has been a feature of NHRA The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) is a drag racing governing bo ...


* List of NHRA champions

NHRA Sportsman Drag Racing Series

There are more than a dozen Sportsman Classes. The classes contested at NHRA Divisional races include Snowmobile, Motorcycle Classes, Super Street, Super Gas, Stock Eliminator, Super Stock, Competition Eliminator, Super Comp, Top Sportsman, Top Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny Car, and Top Alcohol Dragster. All classes except Snowmobile and some Sportsman motorcycle classes are regularly contested at NHRA national events. NHRA promotes mainly the Professional classes at national events; however, the majority of its participants are Sportsman Racers. Sportsman-class racers must be dues-paying members of NHRA before they are allowed to enter and participate in any NHRA event. Included in these sportsman events are the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, the Summit Racing Equipment Racing Series and the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League. The NHRA Sportsman Drag Racing Series originally consisted of seven divisions: Northeast, Southeast, North Central, South Central, West Central, Northwest, and Pacific. Starting in 2012, the Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car classes competed in four regions: East, North Central, Central and West.


Sportsman racers with multiple championships Sportsman racers who have won multiple world championships, with the date of their most recent championship. Top Alcohol Dragster (TAD) *5: Rick Santos (2001), Bill Reichert (2010), Joey Severance (2022) *4: Blaine Johnson (1993) *3: Bill Walsh (1986) *2: Jim Whiteley (2013), Megan Meyer (2020) Alcohol Funny Car (AFC) *17: Frank Manzo (2013) *4: Pat Austin (1991) *3: Brand Anderson (1989), Sean Bellemeur (2021) *2: Randy Anderson (1994), Bob Newberry (2005), Jonnie Lindberg (2016), Doug Gordon (2022) Competition Eliminator (CE) *3: Bill Maropulos (1987), David Rampy (2017), Bruno Massel (2021) *2: Coleman Roddy (1984), Andy Manna, Jr (1999), Dean Carter (2004) Super Stock (SS) *5: Peter Biondo (2014) *4: Jimmy DeFrank (2012), Greg Stanfield (2021) *3: Justin Lamb (2018) *2: Keith Lynch (1983), Jim Boburka (1989), Jeff Taylor (1991), Dan Fletcher (2001) Stock *4: Kevin Helms (2015) *2: Jim Hughes (1989), Al Corda (1997), Lee Zane (2008), Edmond Richardson (2009), Brad Burton (2012), Justin Lamb (2017)

National Records

''NOTE: Top Fuel and Funny Car records are measured in the 1,000 foot (304.8 meter) increment''


NHRA has over 100 member tracks across the United States. It currently leases Auto Club Raceway at Pomona , Gainesville Raceway and Lucas Oil Raceway. It previously owned National Trail Raceway and Atlanta Dragway


The NHRA mandates numerous safety devices and procedures in all competition events. A five-point safety harness is required for all vehicles. It holds the driver securely in the seat and is equipped with a quick-release latch which can be released in less than a second should the driver need to leave the car due to fire or explosions. Fire suits are required for all drivers in the alcohol and
nitromethane Nitromethane, sometimes shortened to simply "nitro", is an organic compound with the chemical formula . It is the simplest organic nitro compound. It is a polar liquid commonly used as a solvent in a variety of industrial applications such as ...
fuel classes and the faster gasoline classes. These suits are full body coveralls and made with seven layers of
Nomex Nomex is a flame-resistant meta-aramid material developed in the early 1960s by DuPont and first marketed in 1967. Properties Nomex and related aramid polymers are related to nylon, but have aromatic backbones, and hence are more rigid and m ...
fabric, which makes them resistant to fire. The required suit includes Nomex gloves, foot socks, and head sock. Another NASCAR transplant, which was brought into use after the death of Fireball Roberts, was the fuel cell. This bladder is placed into the fuel tanks of non-nitromethane-fueled vehicles to prevent fuel leaks and explosions. Third is the use of the
HANS device A HANS device (head and neck support device) is a type of head restraint, a safety device in motorsports. Head restraints are mandatory when competing with most major motorsports sanctioning bodies. They reduce the likelihood of head or neck inj ...
. This device limits the movement of the head and neck in the event of an impact. Fourth is the titanium shield that must be placed behind the head of all Dragsters and Funny Cars down to the Alcohol ranks. This is to prevent any debris from entering the cockpit and becoming a missile hazard to the driver after the death of Top Fuel racer Darrell Russell. Fifth is the on-board fire extinguishing system that is required. These systems are directed onto the engine itself and are activated instantly when the engine catches fire, reducing the chance for the car to completely catch fire and endanger the driver. The driver also has a manual activation control available. This has been in place on all cars since 1983, when an engine explosion and fire came very close to killing then-Funny Car driver Mike Dunn. All enclosed body cars must have a five-inch circular opening that will accept the nozzle of a fire extinguisher triggered by safety personnel. All vehicles must have a clearly marked fuel pump cut-off switch on a rear panel, accessible to safety crews. Sixth is the roof escape hatch that is in place on all Funny Cars since the founding of the division in the early 1970s. This device allows Funny Car drivers a safe means of exit during an engine fire rather than falling out of the car between the frame and fiberglass body, and possibly running the risk of being run over by the rear tires. Seventh are the long bars at the rear end of all cars, also known as "''wheelie bars''". These long struts prevent the car from flipping over during the launch phase. To prevent debris, oil, fuel, or coolant from falling on the racing surface, "diapers" under the engine (with a supporting platform) are used to retain liquids and broken parts in the event of a catastrophic engine failure. "Oil-downs" result in substantial fines and the loss of previously earned Championship points (for annual awards). Many cars using the centrifugally-activated "slipper" clutch are now using a retention tube to collect the substantial amount of clutch dust that is produced during each race. The aforementioned recent practices, along with the longstanding requirement for a Kevlar-style retainer blanket over the supercharger, considerably reduce the potential for injury and fire, in addition to assuring a cleaner and safer racing surface, resulting in a dramatic reduction in race delays for track clean-up. The rear tires of the car, which are called ''slicks'' due to the fact that there is no tread on them, are specified with safety considerations in mind. These tires are made from a much harder compound than in previous years so that the tire is resistant to disintegration. This also came about after the death of Russell. The tires are not allowed to be inflated under for any race at any time. All cars capable of attaining 150 miles per hour require braking parachutes. A safety requirement on all Drag cars running 9.99 and quicker in the 1/4 mile is the fireproof engine blanket that surrounds the engine block and contains debris in case of an engine explosion. NHRA rules call for a monetary, points, and time penalty if the car leaks oil during the run. During qualifying, the offending team loses its elapsed time and speed from the run; during a race, the penalty is loss of lane choice unless both teams in the ensuing race committed the violation. In the wake of Eric Medlen's 2007 death, the roll bars in a Funny Car underwent modifications to further improve safety. They are padded with thick insulation and coated with several layers of Nomex to prevent the padding from catching fire during an engine explosion. Another facility safety feature is the large sand pit at the end of the track past an area of the track known as the "shutdown area", also known as a "sand trap". This sand pit has been placed to slow or stop a car. In the wake of Scott Kalitta's death at Englishtown, NJ in 2008, the sand traps have been made longer and deeper, going from three feet deep to six feet deep and from long to long. Anchors for any arresting netting must be buried underground with no obstructing posts. Some of the newest safety features deal with the tracks themselves. In the wake of Kalitta's death, there are now heavily padded retaining walls at the end of the sand traps. These walls are able to withstand the impact of a vehicle traveling at well over the usual speed of any division within the NHRA's professional categories. These retaining walls take the place of the old rubber polymer safety nets that were once held up with concrete posts. Another safety modification was a direct result of Kalitta's death. The NHRA began installing a sensor that constantly checks the car's engine, and should the car backfire at any time during the race, or if the burst panel is blown out by an engine explosion, the fuel pump shuts off and the parachutes are deployed automatically. Although several drivers in the Top Fuel and Funny Car divisions have stated their dislike for the new sensor, they do admit that it should cut down on any fatal crashes similar to Kalitta's. This device was developed by Force, Kenny Bernstein, and Tony Schumacher, along with NHRA racing development, and NHRA track safety. It was implemented at the start of the 2009 season. The sensor is used only in the Funny Car and Top Fuel divisions. Pro Stock doesn't use nitromethane or superchargers in their engines and this presents a much-reduced risk of the massive explosions that can be seen in the nitromethane-fueled cars—and often at their peak speeds. Prior to the late 1980s, fans could station themselves up to the guardrails so they could be closer to the action. However, in the wake of several rather dramatic accidents on track, where spectators have been injured or killed, fans are no longer allowed within of the guardrail. One of the newest safety requirements came after a near-fatal crash at Texas Motorplex in
Ennis, Texas Ennis () is a city in eastern Ellis County, Texas. It is on the edge of the blackland prairie region of Texas. The population is 20,159 according to the 2020 census, with an estimated population of 21,210 in 2021. Ennis is home to the annual Na ...
, when John Force's car experienced a severe case of tire shake which, coupled with the release of his parachutes, ripped his car cleanly in two directly behind the engine. This frame failure exposed him to severe injury with no body or frame in front of his feet, as the severely damaged vehicle ground to a halt. The rules now prevent the use of hardened chrome moly tubing in the framework construction of any Top Fuel or Funny Car. The track length for nitromethane-powered vehicles (funny cars and fuel dragsters) has been reduced to 1,000 feet (305 meters), to reduce the likelihood and severity of blower and engine explosions and fires at or above 200 miles per hour. All other classes continue to race a full 1320-foot quarter mile (402 meters) which has been the original distance established by the NHRA in the 1950s. The 2010 season brought a new safety device to Top Fuel classes. Should the driver be rendered unable to perform the normal shutdown sequence at the conclusion of a run, a pair of redundant transmitters, placed and past the finish line, will signal an on-board receiver to automatically shut off ignition power and fuel to the engine and deploy the parachutes. The transmitters are designed and placed so as to avoid inadvertent triggering of the automated shutoffs. These transmitters and the receivers that are placed on all cars were designed by NHRA's Track Safety Committee and constructed by Electrimotion, and are a direct result of Kalitta's death.

Safety Safari

Within the safety requirements, there is also a full crew of safety personnel, called the ''Safety Safari'', whose job is to attend to any fires, clean up the track of debris after an accident on the track, and attend to the drivers prior to the arrival of any medical personnel. The Safety Safari has been in place since the late 1960s, after a rash of on-track accidents caused several promising drivers to retire early. Since that time the chance of fatal injuries has been decreased but not eliminated. There is also a full staff of EMTs on hand at any event on the schedule at any given time. These EMTs are usually from the city or county the track is located in, and are compensated by the NHRA for their time and efforts. Aeromedical services are also on hand at the track for airlifting severely injured persons to local hospitals or trauma centers if necessary. The original "Drag Safari" began their tour across America in 1954. Included were four original members: Bud Coons, Bud Evans, Eric Rickman and Chic Cannon.


Although there are several safety procedures in place to prevent fatal accidents, no amount of safety can completely prevent fatalities on the track. These are notable incidents that took place at NHRA national events or in pre or post race testing after national events.

See also

International Hot Rod Association The International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) is the second-largest drag racing sanctioning body after the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). The Carrier Era 1971-1987 The IHRA was formed in November 1970 by businessman Larry Carrier. Througho ...
* National Electric Drag Racing Association * United States Hot Rod Association * Santa Ana Drags * Pro Street


External links

Official NHRA Drag Racing Podcasts

Drag Race Central
The Latest NHRA News and Analysis
Official No Prep Racing website
{{Authority control Sports organizations established in 1951 1951 establishments in California Auto racing organizations 501(c)(6) nonprofit organizations