The Winter Nationals are on once again on in Pomona and it promises to be as exciting as ever. Each year since 1961 the event attracts thousands of drag racing fans and spectators to watch the spectacle.
Drag racing is unique in the world of auto racing as it pits only two cars at a time on a straight quarter mile long track. The car that finishes the quarter mile in the fastest time claims the win. Sounds pretty simple but each year the cars have been getting faster, more powerful and technologically sophisticated.
The drag races at Pomona can be traced back to 1952 when a car club known as the “Choppers of Pomona” aided by a young police officer, Sergeant Bud Coons, advocated that a safe place should be provided for local drag racers. Soon the movement was joined by Pomona Police Chief Ralph Parker and the city government of Pomona who would ask to lease the parking lot of the LA County Fairgrounds. The county was convinced by Coons and others that providing a safe place for the locals to race would cut down on the death rate among the young people in the area and finally agreed to the lease. The one provision was that the hot rodders would have to provide their own insurance, which they were able to do with gate receipts.
The NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) held their very first event, the Southern California Championships in April of 1953. Several other events were held at the location over the years, but what became known as the Winter Nationals gathered the most fame and is today internationally known.
The first Winter Nationals was held by the NHRA in 1961 and was one of two National events, the other being on the East coast.
Today, the Winter Nationals is one of the premier racing events in the world and is enjoyed by virtually millions.