History of auto race car drivers past and present

That day will make history of a remarkable sort.

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Since , when moonshine runners and various other hot-rodders gathered near Charlotte, N. Although 16 women have raced in the Cup series sporadically over the years, none has approached winning. In fact, only one woman has scored a top-five finish, that being a fifth by Atlanta driver Sara Christian in the seventh race of the first season in Christian finished 10 laps behind winner Lee Petty in a field of 23 cars at Heidelberg Raceway, a half-mile dirt track in Pittsburgh.

Patrick drove races in equipment that was at or near top level; Guthrie ran 33 times in mid-range cars. Patrick scored seven top 10s and Guthrie five. They are the only women to have started more than a dozen Cup races.

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Hamilton will be critical to the effort. The son of mixed-race parents, he became the first black driver in Formula One after growing up in public housing north of London, rather than being groomed in the gilded garages that typically breed championship drivers. For an ambassador, Hamilton is not exactly known for diplomacy. On Nov.

The hyper-competitive Hamilton was not a model of grace in defeat. The loss is fuel for Hamilton, who wants to reclaim a world title in that he feels he lost in spite of his driving. But of course, it will build. The yearning for next year will build. A YouTube clip shows him raising a tiny, triumphant right arm in victory. He quickly graduated to go-karts.

His father Anthony managed his racing career while holding down multiple jobs. They stood out in the U. Still, Hamilton kept winning, roiling others on the youth racing circuit. What are you talking about? About 5 ft. But at one point, he decided it was time to fight back. I was being bullied and hated it.

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So I went and did karate and learned how to defend myself. At an auto-sports award show in , the year-old Hamilton met Ron Dennis, head of the McLaren racing team, and told him that he wanted to race one of his cars one day. By the age of 21 Hamilton had secured a spot in Formula One, where he turned in one of the greatest rookie seasons ever, losing the championship by a single point. Hamilton finished second behind Alonso, but not before applying heavy pressure. What's more, he is without question the biggest fan favorite in the sport, often called the NHRA's answer to Dale Earnhardt, as it was Force that led the sport from a small fanbase into a multi-billion dollar national phenomenon.

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And, if he ever decides to retire, which isn't in the cards any time soon, the always excitable Force would make a great stand-up comic, possessing a sense of humor that few athletes, if any, have ever possessed. No matter if it's driving and winning championships, or cutting up small or large groups with his ever-present humor, there's no question Force is one of the greatest athletes and entertainers the sports world has ever seen. Oh, and three of his four daughters have followed him behind the wheel and become good racers in their own right: Ashley, Brittany and Courtney.

His series of "Swamp Rat" front-engine Top Fuel dragsters helped establish that class as the biggest, best and baddest of all drag racing series. Garlits not only drove his dragster, but he also built it, tuned it and even did routine maintenance like putting air in the tires and packing his own parachute at the back of the car.

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Being so hands-on was the only way for Garlits to know that the job had been done right the first time. The Ocala, Fla. Garlits, now 80, won national events in his career, including a record eight wins in the sport's biggest race, the Labor Day U.

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Nationals in Indianapolis. Garlits tackled the quarter-mile wars for nearly 40 years, from through and even in his later years, could still beat the best, and even drivers that were more than half his age. He now runs a successful drag racing museum in Ocala and one of his championship-winning Swamp Rat Top Fuelers is part of the sports collection of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.

One last thing: Garlits was voted No. A trailblazer in every sense of the word, Muldowney not only became one of the first-ever female drivers in the previously male-dominated world of drag racing, but she also became one of its best drivers overall, period, regardless of gender. Nicknamed "Cha Cha," the Schenectady, N. Known for her ever-present hot pink race cars, Muldowney wasn't only one of the sport's greatest drivers, she was also one of its greatest ambassadors. Even today, nearly 10 years since she retired, she remains one of the biggest fan favorites in the sport.

Known as "The Sarge" for his close-cropped crew cut and his long-time sponsorship by the U. Army, Tony Schumacher has become one of the greatest Top Fuel drivers in drag racing history. Schumacher, who celebrates his 43rd birthday on Christmas Day, has achieved incredible success, including seven Top Fuel championships—six of them in a row from through The son of NHRA legend Don Schumacher, who also owns the multi-car team his son and several other drivers compete for, Tony has achieved a number of highlights in his career.

Those include being the first Top Fuel driver to exceed mph in a quarter-mile pass.

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He's also the first driver to reach mph in a 1,foot pass after NHRA reduced the length of racetracks from 1, feet to 1, feet after the death of fellow Top Fuel driver Scott Kalitta in , as well as setting the fastest speed ever in competition His 68 national event wins tops the Top Fuel all-time ranks. He earned the nickname "The Budweiser King" for both his quarter-mile prowess and having a year relationship with Budweiser, one of the longest sponsorships in professional sports history. Bernstein, who officially retired from the sport as a driver in and as a team owner after the season, is the only driver in NHRA history to earn multiple championships in both Funny Car four and Top Fuel two.

Bernstein was the first driver in any class to exceed mph in a race. Also a multi-millionaire businessman throughout his adult life, Bernstein is also the only team owner in motorsports history to have recorded victories not only in NHRA competition, but also in his forays into both IndyCar and NASCAR during the s and s. His son Brandon followed him into drag racing and continues to compete in the sport. He also won two championships in the rival International Hot Rod Association.

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The Minnesota native has long been known as one of the sport's most diligent racers and one of its best mechanical masterminds, especially with both engine development and aerodynamics. In , at the age of 66, Johnson also became the oldest professional winner in an NHRA national pro event. The elder Johnson will turn 70 next year, but continues to compete.

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His son, Kurt, followed him into the sport and has 40 wins to date. He was the first Pro Stock driver to exceed mph in competition, and while he has finished runner-up in four different seasons, he continues to seek his first Pro Stock championship. Bob Glidden hails from suburban Indianapolis, a city known more for the Indianapolis , but is also home to the nearby Indianapolis Raceway Park, home of the biggest race every season in the NHRA, namely the U.

Glidden set the standard in the Pro Stock class that would spawn other great drivers, including Warren Johnson, Jeg Coughlin and others. Glidden won at least one NHRA national event for 21 consecutive seasons Known as one of the best technical minds in the business, Glidden was a whiz under the hood.


And if he couldn't diagnose a problem, his longtime wife, Etta, could, having served as her husband's crew chief for the majority of his career. Bob Glidden's technical expertise with motors, particularly those manufactured by Ford, eventually led him to become an engine builder and consultant for Ford and NASCAR teams after his retirement from the sport in When it comes to sprint car racing and the World of Outlaws series, one name stands head and shoulders above all others: Steve Kinser. The Bloomington, Ind.

Kinser has 20 sprint car or Outlaws championships to his credit, and an astounding plus career wins in "A" main event or feature races, the most victories by any driver in any form of motorsports in four-wheeled racing history.