Here’s Rick Voegelin with a guided tour of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California.
If an editor could choose any reporter in the biz to do a story on NHRA’s fabulous drag racing museum, Rick Voegelin would be right at the top of the list. A veteran journalist and drag racer, Rick was Editor of Car Craft in its glory years and an original campaigner in NHRA Pro Modified/Super Modified—a category he largely invented. To learn more about Rick, check out his bio in the Contributors section. Now here’s Rick.
Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum
by Rick Voegelin
Southern California is the birthplace and deathbed of drag racing. Once upon a time, ten drag strips regularly hosted shows in SoCal; today Pomona Raceway remains as the only quarter-mile track operating in metropolitan Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
The ground still shakes in Pomona when the season-opening NHRA Winternationals and the season-ending NHRA Finals shatter the shroud of silence that has descended on big-time drag racing in Southern California. Not far from Pomona Raceway’s finish line stands a silent guardian of drag racing’s supercharged past: The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum.
Drag racing history is now preserved and protected in a concrete edifice constructed by the WPA in the ’30s. The museum is as no-frills as the sport it celebrates. If you want interactive displays, animated videos, and android interpreters, go elsewhere. If you want to see dragsters, hot rods, land speed record holders, and belly tanks that made motorsports history, then go to the NHRA Museum.
NHRA founder Wally Parks once famously said, “The cars are the stars.” While that philosophy is at odds with today’s “drivers as heroes” marketing plans, it is the museum’s rock-solid foundation. It’s all about the hardware here. The cars are parked wheel-to-wheel, and the display cases are packed with memorabilia, trophies, and model cars.
Special exhibitions spotlight the trends and genres that made their marks in motorsports. Recent displays have featured Bonneville streamliners, screaming yellow Mooneyes machines, speedway motorcycles, and Carroll Shelby’s all-conquering Cobra – a creation, need we remind you, of a bunch of misfit California hot rodders.
The NHRA Museum also hosts events such as the Lions Drag Strip Reunion, monthly Twilight Cruises, and celebrity roasts. It pays the rent by organizing a successful series of nostalgia-fueled Hot Rod Reunions in Bakersfield, California., Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Epping, New Hampshire
The museum is located at 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona CA, 91768, and is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free for NHRA members, $8 for adults, and free for children under the age of 5. For more information, surf over to http://www.museum.nhra.com.
Take your kids and show them what real drag racing was all about. Be there!
Slide show gallery below: