SEMA News—February 2013
By Drew Hardin
Photo Courtesy of the Petersen Archive
The third annual Hot Rod Magazine Championship Drags, held in June 1966, was a scorcher. On the track, that is. All the big names in drag racing came to Riverside loaded for bear: McEwen, Chrisman, Landy, Leal, Ongias, Swingle—and records tumbled.
Ron Rivero made a 7.33-second pass at 221.66 mph in AA/Fuel Dragster, notching both top speed of the meet and the fastest time ever logged at a major drag race to that date. Rivero may have been fastest, but it was Tom “Mongoose” McEwen who came away as the Top Fuel Eliminator of the meet, earning the right to appear on Hot Rod’s cover.
The odd-looking, altered-wheelbase, full-bodied dragsters that would soon evolve into Funny Cars were there, too, running in blown and unblown Experimental Stock classes. In his topless GT-1 Comet, Jack Chrisman would see speeds in excess of 184 mph on his way to winning the Exhibition Stock Eliminator battle on Sunday.
Yet even with all the serious racing going on, there was some goofing off, too. Petersen Publishing Company’s Fred Enke grabbed this shot of some of the fastest men on wheels—(from left) the weekend’s Top Gas winner Billy Scott, “Dandy” Dick Landy and Gary Gabelich—grabbing air (some more successfully than others) during a pause between races.