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Winternationals Memorable Moments

To help salute the milestone 50th Anniversary Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona Feb. 11-14, NHRA fans had the opportunity to vote for their favorite Winternationals moment of the past 49 years in a special monthlong poll on NHRA.com.

The top 5 moments list were announced during race week, culminating with the unveiling of the top moment during Sunday’s pre-race festivities at the 50th annual event. Moments 6 through 25 were revealed in reverse order on NHRA.com in the weeks before the 2010 event.

FINAL ORDER

No. 1: Garlits Kicks ’em in the Rear (1971)
A year after a near-career-ending accident, Don Garlits wins Top Fuel with a revolutionary rear-engine dragster in its NHRA national event debut

No. 2 ‘Grumpy’ Rules First Pro Stock Go (1970)

Crowd favorite Bill Jenkins wins NHRA’s first Pro Stock title, besting the previously unbeatable Sox & Martin team in the final with low e.t. of the meet

No. 3: Up, Up, and Away (1989)
Eddie “the Thrill” Hill lives up to his nickname after a front-spoiler malfunction sends his yellow Top Fuel dragster soaring across the finish line
 
No. 4: The Mystery Train (1963)
Bob Muravez, forbidden by his parents to drag race, wins Top Gas in the fabled Freight Train twin-engine dragster using the pseudonym Floyd Lippencott

5. Garlits Goes Big (1963)
Don Garlits already was a drag racing legend, but his first NHRA win, with a revolutionary and controversial winged Top Fuel dragster, really puts him on the map
 
6. That’s Really Showing ’em (2006)
Robert Hight’s Funny Car engine blows in round two, destroying the body. The team pulls the body off its show car and wins

7. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1981)
The roof of Raymond Beadle’s famed Blue Max Funny Car blows off at the finish line on a winning semifinal run, but fellow Texan Kenny Bernstein allows Beadle to saw the roof off of his car and graft it to the Max. Beadle loses the final but not for lack of effort

8. Scelzi Sez … Winner (1997)
Gary Scelzi wins at his first event since taking the wheel of Alan Johnson’s dragster five months after the death of Alan’s brother, Blaine. He becomes the first driver since K.C. Spurlock in 1990 to win in his Pro debut

9. 'The Snake’s’ Double Strike (1998)
The two fuel cars owned by Don “the Snake” Prudhomme double up with wins by Larry Dixon and Ron Capps. Prudhomme hasn’t won as a driver or owner in Pomona since 1978

10. The Kid Is All Right (2008)
Former Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Antron Brown shows that he is as adept on four wheels as on two when he qualifies No. 1 in his Top Fuel debut

11. The Flyin' Hawaiian (1969)
Roland’s Leong’s first Hawaiian Funny Car, an ill-handling, full-size Dodge Charger driven by Larry Reyes, takes flight and sails backward through the finish-line lights. The duo wins the race the following year

12. 'The King' Gets Crowned (1993)
Kenny Bernstein loses more than the Top Fuel final to Joe Amato. The former world champ loses, in succession, an engine, a tire, control of his race car, and the race car itself in a violent top-end tumble that leaves “the Bud King” dazed but unhurt

13. Garlits' Gift (1975)
Don Garlits smokes the tires against Don Ewald in round one of Top Fuel, but Ewald is disqualified for crossing the centerline. Garlits wins the event and season title and admits that had he not won the Winternationals, he likely would not have pursued the championship

14. Hawaiian Domination (1965-66)
Car owner Roland Leong wins Top Fuel back to back, giving Don Prudhomme his first win in 1965 and Mike Snively his a year later

15. Thar She Blows  … again! (1984-85)
Al Segrini wins dramatic back-to-back Funny Car titles. In 1984, he rides out a huge top-end blower explosion; the following year, he crosses the finish line with a cockpit full of sparks from a disintegrating clutch

16.  Ladies Day (1966)
Shirley Shahan becomes the first woman to win a major drag racing national event eliminator title with her stunning victory in the popular Top Stock class

17. Upset of the Decade (1990)
With the ink practically still wet on his nitro license, K.C. Spurlock wins Funny Car in his Pro debut, knocking off John Force, Bruce Larson, and, in the final, Ed “the Ace” McCulloch

18. Roll Over, Ivo (1974)
Tommy Ivo barrel-rolls his beautiful Top Fuel dragster in the finish-line lights during qualifying in a fiery and car-destroying crash

19. Rookies Rule (2001)
Former Top Alcohol Dragster racer Darrell Russell joins Gary Scelzi and K.C. Spurlock as the only drivers to score in their Professional debuts by winning aboard Joe Amato’s Top Fuel dragster with rookie crew chief Jimmy Walsh

20. Galloping Ponies (1968)
Ford crashes Mopar’s Stocker monopoly with a fleet of 10 Cobra Jet Mustangs, and Al Joniec, at the wheel of the Rice-Holman entry, collects the victory

21: The Real Winter-nationals (1978)
Southern California is supposed to be home to sunshine and blue skies, but the 1978 event is besieged by foul weather, including a first ever: a rare dusting of snow

22: The America’s Cup, Quarter-Mile Style (1987)
While U.S. sailors battle the Australians in the America’s Cup, American Kenny Bernstein and Aussie Graeme Cowin wage their own war in Funny Car, complete with flags on their tow vehicles

23: Seven Seconds to Glory (1982)
After years of using a complicated weight-break rule, NHRA switches Pro Stock to a straight-up 500-cubic-inch limit. The big horsepower gains lead to the class’ first seven-second pass, by the late Lee Shepherd

24: Too Slick for Its Own Good (1986)
Gary Ormsby unveils a super-swoopy streamliner, and the car’s debut is a bang ... in the worst way. An ignition short caused by the engine-cloaking body leads to a huge blower explosion in the water box on its first pass

25: In Hindsight … (1975)
Dennis Geisler calls his rare rear-engine Funny Car Hindsight; after he backflips the flopper in a huge starting-line wheelstand, he might have had second thoughts on its design