Auto Club Raceway at Pomona

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Auto Club Raceway at Pomona
"Pomona Raceway"
Pomona Drag Strip.jpg
Auto Club Raceway, 2008
Location2780 Fairplex Drive, Pomona, California
Time zoneUMT -0800
Coordinates34°05′42.32″N 117°46′11.15″W / 34.0950889°N 117.7697639°W / 34.0950889; -117.7697639Coordinates: 34°05′42.32″N 117°46′11.15″W / 34.0950889°N 117.7697639°W / 34.0950889; -117.7697639
Capacity40,000
OwnerNHRA
OperatorNHRA
Opened1951 [1]
Former names
  • Pomona Raceway
  • The Fairplex
  • Ascot at Pomona
  • Los Angeles Dragstrip
Major events
  • Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals
  • Circle K NHRA Winternationals
Drag Strip
SurfaceConcrete
Length0.25 mi (0.402 km)

Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, also known as Pomona Raceway, is a racing facility located in Pomona, California that features a quarter-mile dragstrip. Since its opening in 1961, the dragstrip has hosted the NHRA's Winternationals event – the traditional season opener – and since 1984, the season's last race, the NHRA Finals. These two events have contributed to its becoming perhaps one of the most famous dragstrips in North America. The facility has a seating capacity of 40,000 spectators, and it is one of the few dragstrips in the USA that is operated directly by the NHRA. This dragstrip has also gone by the nickname of The Fairplex, in reference to its location at the Fairplex, formerly called the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds.

History[edit]

Drag Racing[edit]

In 1952 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 area drag racers. Coons, along with fellow hot rod enthusiast, Pomona Police Chief Ralph Parker, and the city government of Pomona asked to lease the parking lot of the LA County Fairgrounds. Coons and Parker were instrumental in convincing the county to allow the use of the fairgrounds for the race by citing statistics that indicated deaths among kids declined sharply when given a place to race that was supervised. The county finally agreed, as long as the hot rodders would provide their own insurance, which they were able to do with gate receipts.[2]

At the time the county made the agreement, the parking lot was nothing but a gravel lot. The coalition of hot rodders, police and community leaders raised funds through donations and paved the lot. This was the birth of the dragstrip in Pomona.

Though it was not considered a national event by today's standards, the very first NHRA event, the Southern California Championships, was held at this drag strip on an April weekend in 1953. On Saturday attendance was at two or three thousand and attendance was reported to be at 15,000 on Sunday. Compared to the 4.5 second numbers the pros are putting on the board presently, the best ET of that day was a respectable 10.93.[3]

In 1961, NHRA held its first ever Winternationals at the Pomona Raceway. It became NHRA's second national event. The first NHRA national event was the U.S. Nationals, which was nicknamed the "Big-Go". Thus, the Winternationals got nicknamed the "Big-Go West". It has remained at this location ever since. For many years, this event was sponsored by Chief Auto Parts and later its successor AutoZone, but later was sponsored by CSK Automotive, and now its current successor, O'Reilly Auto Parts.

The season closer, the NHRA Finals, was brought to the facility in 1984 from the now defunct Orange County International Raceway. When the event was first brought to Pomona, the event was sponsored by Winston (after NHRA's main title sponsor at the time, RJ Reynolds' "Winston" cigarette brand). As of 2010, the event is sponsored by the Automobile Club of Southern California, which is affiliated with AAA.

Other Racing[edit]

From 1934 to 1937 a 1/2 mile dirt oval was located at the facility.[4] The dirt oval was once again opened in the 1950s but closed in 1959. Pomona was also home to a 1.7 mile Paved road course which operated in 1998 and 1999. From 1956 to 1961 2 mile temporary road course was located in the parking lot.[5]

Winners[edit]

NHRA Winternationals[edit]

Year Top Fuel Funny Car Pro Stock
1961 Jack Chrisman
1962 Jim Nelson
1963 Don Garlits
1964 Jack Williams
1965 Don Prudhomme
1966 Mike Snively
1967 Connie Kalitta
1968 James Warren
1969 John Mulligan
1970 Larry Dixon Larry Reyes
1971 Don Garlits Butch Maas
1972 Carl Olson Ed McCulloch
1973 Don Garlits Don Schumacher
1974 Gary Beck Dale Emery
1975 Don Garlits Don Prudhomme
1976 Frank Bradley Don Prudhomme
1977 Jerry Ruth Don Prudhomme
1978 Kelly Brown Don Prudhomme
1979 Bob Noice Tom Hoover
1980 Shirley Muldowney Dale Pulde
1981 Jeb Allen Al Segrini
1982 Dick LaHaie Al Segrini Frank Iaconio
1983 Shirley Muldowney Frank Hawley Frank Iaconio
1984 Gary Ormsby Al Segrini Lee Shepherd
1985 Joe Amato Al Segrini Bob Glidden
1986 Darrell Gwynn Tim Grose Frank Iaconio
1987 Don Garlits Kenny Bernstein Warren Johnson
1988 Dick LaHaie Dale Pulde Butch Leal
1989 Gary Ormsby Bruce Larson Bob Glidden
1990 Lori Johns K.C. Spurlock Jerry Eckman
1991 Frank Bradley John Force Darrell Alderman
1992 Kenny Bernstein Jim Epler Jerry Eckman
1993 Joe Amato John Force Warren Johnson
1994 Shelly Anderson K.C. Spurlock Warren Johnson
1995 Eddie Hill Cruz Pedregon Darrell Alderman
1996 Blaine Johnson Al Hofmann Jim Yates
1997 Gary Scelzi John Force Warren Johnson
1998 Larry Dixon Ronn Capps Jim Yates
1999 Mike Dunn Tony Pedregon Jeg Coughlin
2000 Gary Scelzi Jerry Toliver Jeg Coughlin Jr.
2001 Darrell Russell Bruce Sarver Kurt Johnson
2002 Larry Dixon John Force George Marnell
2003 Larry Dixon Tony Pedregon Warren Johnson
2004 Tony Schumacher Jerry Toliver Greg Anderson
2005 Scott Kalitta Tommy Johnson Jr. Dave Connolly
2006 Melanie Troxel Robert Hight Greg Anderson
2007 J.R. Todd Gary Scelzi Greg Anderson
2008 Tony Schumacher Robert Hight Greg Anderson
2009 Doug Kalitta Ron Capps Jason Line
2010 Larry Dixon John Force Mike Edwards
2011 Morgan Lucas Robert Hight Jason Line
2012 Spencer Massey John Force Greg Anderson
2013 Shawn Langdon Courtney Force Vincent Nobile
2014 Khalid alBalooshi John Force Jason Line
2015 Shawn Langdon Matt Hagan Jason Line
2016 Steve Torrence Ron Capps Greg Anderson
2017 Leah Pritchett Matt Hagan Jason Line
2018 Doug Kalitta Matt Hagan Bo Butner

NHRA Finals[edit]

Year Top Fuel Funny Car Pro Stock
1965 Maynard Rupp
1966 Pete Robinson
1967 Connie Kalitta Don Nicholson
1968 Don Prudhomme Ed Schartman
1969 L. Goldstein Dick Harrell
1970 Ron Martin Gene Snow
1971 Gerry Glenn P. Castronovo
1972 Jim Walther L. Fullerton
1973 Jerry Ruth Frank Hall
1974 Don Garlits Dave Condit
1975 Don Garlits Don Prudhomme
1976 Shirley Muldowney Don Prudhomme
1977 Dennis Baca Gordie Bonin
1978 Rob Bruins Raymond Beadle
1979 Don Garlits Gordie Bonin
1980 Shirley Muldowney Ron Colson
1981 Gary Beck Jim Dunn
1982 Jim Barnard Trip Shumake
1983 Shirley Muldowney John Lombardo
1984 Don Garlits Sherm Gunn Bob Glidden
1985 Gary Beck Kenny Bernstein Joe Lepone
1986 Darrell Gwynn Kenny Bernstein Bob Glidden
1987 Darrell Gwynn Billy Meyer Bob Glidden
1988 Darrell Gwynn John Force Warren Johnson
1989 Gary Ormsby Bruce Larson Bob Glidden
1990 Joe Amato Ed McCulloch Bob Glidden
1991 Pat Austin Al Hofmann Darrell Alderman
1992 Cory McClenathan Chuck Etchells Warren Johnson
1993 Rance McDaniel Jim Epler Warren Johnson
1994 Kenny Bernstein John Force Darrell Alderman
1995 Blaine Johnson Al Hofmann Warren Johnson
1996 Joe Amato John Force Mike Edwards
1997 Joe Amato Tony Pedregon Kurt Johnson
1998 Kenny Bernstein Chuck Etchells Richie Stevens
1999 Mike Dunn Jerry Toliver Jeg Coughlin
2000 Gary Scelzi John Force Kurt Johnson
2001 Kenny Bernstein Del Worsham Bruce Allen
2002 Cory McClenathan John Force Kurt Johnson
2003 Kenny Bernstein Del Worsham Greg Anderson
2004 Tony Schumacher John Force Greg Anderson
2005 Tony Schumacher Tony Pedregon Jeg Coughlin
2006 Tony Schumacher John Force Greg Anderson
2007 Tony Schumacher Robert Hight Jeg Coughlin
2008 Larry Dixon Cruz Pedregon Greg Anderson
2009 Antron Brown Mike Neff Greg Anderson
2010 Antron Brown John Force Shane Gray
2011 Del Worsham Matt Hagan Greg Stanfield
2012 Brandon Bernstein Cruz Pedregon Allen Johnson
2013 Shawn Langdon Matt Hagan Rickie Jones
2014 Morgan Lucas Matt Hagan Erica Enders-Stevens
2015 Shawn Langdon Del Worsham Erica Enders-Stevens
2016 Doug Kalitta Tommy Johnson Jr. Greg Anderson
2017 Brittany Force Tommy Johnson Jr. Bo Butner
2018 Steve Torrence J.R. Todd Tanner Gray

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Na-Motorsports Track Entry". NA Motorsports. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
  2. ^ "Need for a safe place to speed: Pomona's hot rod history began with police". Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
  3. ^ *Post, Robert C. (1996). High Performance: The Culture and Technology of Drag Racing 1950-1990. Baltimore Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-4654-4.
  4. ^ "Na-Motorsports Track Entry". NA Motorsports. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
  5. ^ "Na-Motorsports Track Entry". NA Motorsports. Retrieved 5 May 2010.

External links[edit]