Drag Cars, Drag Tech & Drag Racing Action!

Drag Racing History Insight, from DragCars.com reader Rick David

My Grandfather, WH David invented the fuel test, we think in 1958, and they hired him to go to Detroit and run the test for Nationals. It was the first time the test was seen on the National level. He had been running it in Louisiana for a year or so. My dad was 15 at the time and can remember making the trip to Detroit. After that event, they were hired to go to most Nationals, Springs and Winters for the next year or so and run testing for the events, including engine displacement and cam size checks. He then sold the patent to another company who manufactured the testing equipment.

His biggest mark on drag racing was the invention of the christmas tree. He built them for a few years and then sold the rights to Chrondek. I still have one of the earliest mock-ups in my office, it's about 18" tall and 14" wide. It has those real christmas tree lights from the '50s and '60s on it, hence the name "christmas tree.” I have attached a picture of one he built. His big thing was safety, he wanted the flagman out of the way, so he started using a traffic signal in the late '50s to start the race with the starter standing at the back tires of the car (this was usually my dad). The problem was bracket racing, at the local meets there were not enough entries in many of the categories so the flagman was standing down the strip in front of the first car that had the head start. The christmas tree and timing equipment was his way of getting the flagman off the track.  You can see in the picture I attached the dial on the blue box, it can be turned right or left to delay either lane from going green.

He was the NHRA Regional Technical Advisor in 1959 and one of six committee members that rewrote the rule book for '59. What most consider to be the first complete rule book.

He opened his first drag strip in 1955 at Esterwood, LA. Then Pel State at Opelousas in 1958. At one point he had four NHRA sanctioned tracks running at once in Louisiana, Opelousas (Pel State), Hammond, Lake Charles and Houma. Then in 1970 he opened State Capitol Dragway in Baton Rouge.

Besides the Christmas tree, he held patents for the fuel test, engine displacement and cam size check.

My Grandmother, Jayne David, wrote, edited and printed “Tire Marks” during the '50s and '60s. It had the largest publication rate for a regional printing outside of the few national magazines in the '50s. She is the one at the (4:30 mark in “Ingenuity in Action” [Part 2]1958 video) taking the fuel test in Detroit at the '59 Nationals.

WH David invented the first “christmas tree” as seen here.

Photo: Rick David

Tire Marks

Jayne David, wrote, edited and printed “Tire Marks” during the '50s and '60s. It had the largest publication rate for a regional printing outside of the few national magazines in the '50s. She is the one at the (4:30 mark in “Ingenuity in Action” [Part 2]1958 video) taking the fuel test in Detroit at the '59 Nationals.

We’d like to thank Rick David for providing the readers of DragCars.com with this great bit of drag racing history. The entire drag racing community is greatly indebted to Rick’s Grandparents for their valuable contributions to the great sport of drag racing. They’re the true innovators of the sport.

On the picture of the Pel State announcers truck, that's Dave McClelland over the “A” of Drag.

Find ANY Classic Car Part Guaranteed! 

Photo: Rick David

1972 Chevrolet Chevelle Big Block V8 auto 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle  Big Block V8 not SS  for sale
1972 Chevrolet Chevelle Big Block V8 auto 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle Big Block V8 not SS
$22900.0


1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS SS BIG BLOCK 4SPD 12 BOLT 1969 CAMARO RS/SS 396 4SPD 12 BOLT TACH & GAUGES SOLID BEAUTIFUL GLACIER BLUE  for sale
1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS SS BIG BLOCK 4SPD 12 BOLT 1969 CAMARO RS/SS 396 4SPD 12 BOLT TACH & GAUGES SOLID BEAUTIFUL GLACIER BLUE
$31150.0


1967 Chevrolet Camaro RS Big Block 4 Speed 1967 Chevrolet Camaro RS Big Block 4 Speed 27453 Miles Black  402 V8 4 Speed Tra  for sale
1967 Chevrolet Camaro RS Big Block 4 Speed 1967 Chevrolet Camaro RS Big Block 4 Speed 27453 Miles Black 402 V8 4 Speed Tra
$42999.0


1972 Chevrolet Chevelle 396 Big block auto 1972 Chevelle 396 big block auto working AC PS PB bucket seats console  for sale
1972 Chevrolet Chevelle 396 Big block auto 1972 Chevelle 396 big block auto working AC PS PB bucket seats console
$31900.0


1970 Chevrolet Chevelle ss clone 1970 chevelle ss clone 454 big block turbo 400 very low reserve  for sale
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle ss clone 1970 chevelle ss clone 454 big block turbo 400 very low reserve
$18100.0


1972 Chevrolet Chevelle Real SS U Code Big Block 4 Speed Convertible S Big Block U Code/4 Speeb Convertible  for sale
1972 Chevrolet Chevelle Real SS U Code Big Block 4 Speed Convertible S Big Block U Code/4 Speeb Convertible
$25000.0


1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Big Block 5 Speed 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Big Block 5 Speed 53301 Miles Red  396 V8 5 Speed Manual  for sale
1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Big Block 5 Speed 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Big Block 5 Speed 53301 Miles Red 396 V8 5 Speed Manual
$26999.0


1966 Chevrolet Chevelle malibu 1966 CHEVELLE  BIG BLOCK PROJECT  for sale
1966 Chevrolet Chevelle malibu 1966 CHEVELLE BIG BLOCK PROJECT
$7600.0


1969 Chevrolet Corvette Big Block 1969 Corvette 427 Survivor OEM Factory Positraction Muncie 4 Speed Cortez Silver  for sale
1969 Chevrolet Corvette Big Block 1969 Corvette 427 Survivor OEM Factory Positraction Muncie 4 Speed Cortez Silver
$59000.0


1965 Chevrolet Chevelle  1965 chevelle 468 Big Block  for sale
1965 Chevrolet Chevelle 1965 chevelle 468 Big Block
$12000.0


1968 Chevrolet Camaro base Camaro 1968 big block Pro Street Muscle car  for sale
1968 Chevrolet Camaro base Camaro 1968 big block Pro Street Muscle car
$19601.0


1969 Chevrolet Chevelle 396 4 speed bucket seats console disc brakes 1969 Chevelle 396 big block 4 speed manual PS Power disc brakes bucket seats  for sale
1969 Chevrolet Chevelle 396 4 speed bucket seats console disc brakes 1969 Chevelle 396 big block 4 speed manual PS Power disc brakes bucket seats
$38900.0


1966 Chevrolet Corvette Big Block NCRS Bloomington Triple Crown Spinner 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Big Block NCRS Bloomington Triple Crown Spinner 631 Mile  for sale
1966 Chevrolet Corvette Big Block NCRS Bloomington Triple Crown Spinner 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Big Block NCRS Bloomington Triple Crown Spinner 631 Mile
$114875.0


1966 Chevrolet Chevelle Resto Mod 1966 CHEVY CHEVELLE RESTO MOD CUSTOM PAINT BIG BLOCK 502 MOTOR 6-SPEED TVs  for sale
1966 Chevrolet Chevelle Resto Mod 1966 CHEVY CHEVELLE RESTO MOD CUSTOM PAINT BIG BLOCK 502 MOTOR 6-SPEED TVs
$50000.0


1968 Chevrolet Camaro  1968 Camaro SS - 396 Big Block - Manual 5 speed  for sale
1968 Chevrolet Camaro 1968 Camaro SS - 396 Big Block - Manual 5 speed
$35000.0


Get Flash Player

Copyright © 2001-2009 DragCars.com(TM). All Rights Reserved..

Contact Us 

Legal Policy