How the NHRA Works

NHRA founder Wally Parks speaks at the 50th Anniversay of the NHRA.
NHRA founder Wally Parks speaks at the 50th Anniversay of the NHRA.
WireImage/­Getty Images

­If you live for long weekends spent at the track, submerged in the whine of the engines and the roar of the cars as they shoot by, then you may want to learn more about the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).

Founded in 1951, the NHRA is second only to NASCAR "in terms of attendance, fan appeal, and sponsorship commitment" [source: NHRA]. With big corporate sponsors like Coca-Cola, PowerAde, GMC and others, the NHRA has established itself as a leader in motorsports.



If you're new to the world of drag racing, the NHRA can teach you the basics of the sport, what a typical racing weekend is like, where to take drag racing classes and even how to atten­d a drag racing school.

In this article, you'll learn about the history of the NHRA, as well as its mission, which continues to drive the NHRA to success. You'll also learn about the founder of the NHRA and why the association was created. These days, membership is public and numbers at about 80,000. Through the many levels of membership, those who join are offered different benefits. Members may even get involved with one of the charities supported by the NHRA.

­If you're thrilled by the power of the motor and can't imagine anything better than being surrounded by racing aficionados, start your engine and move on to the next section.


Mission of the NHRA


­The National Hot Rod Association bills itself as the largest and the loudest auto racing organization in the world. Since its first year, the NHRA has been dedicated to hot rod safety, education and sport promotion. In the 50 plus years of its existence, the association has grown to include more than 35,000 hot rod competitors [source: NHRA].


International and National Motorsports Hall of Famer Wallace Gordon "Wally" Parks founded the NHRA to get dragsters off the streets and onto safer legal race strips by creating and enforcing rules and standards. The creation of the NHRA helped the sport gain a legitimacy that street racing could not.

The NHRA has programs for all levels of racers:

  • NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style -- grudge-style racing, one of the most popular programs
  • Summit Racing Series -- local-track racing for different types of vehicles to compete against each other
  • NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series -- series with eight categories of competition in national and divisional events
  • NHRA Full Throttle Series -- professional drag-racing series with payouts that total more than $3 million
  • Jr. Drag Racing League -- group specifically for kids ages eight to 17. Kids race half-scale dragsters in a controlled environment on NHRA member tracks around the country

[source: NHRA]

­Becoming an NHRA member is open to any person interested in hot rod or drag racing. Next, you'll learn how to join and discover its many benefits.


Joining the NHRA

By joining the NHRA, members help the association to provide a forum for racing enthusiasts. Jr. Dragsters also benefit from membership fees, as the NHRA provides youth education services, encouraging kids to pursue goals and further their education, in and outside of the racing environment.

­If you'd like to participate in NHRA races, you must join. Members are able to race at any NHRA member track, and winners receive prizes from official NHRA sponsors.


The NHRA offers memberships in three separate categories, each with two pricing schedules:

  • U.S. membership -- regular or first class
  • Canada/Mexico membership -- regular or first class
  • Overseas/Foreign membership -- regular or air mail

No matter where in the world you are live, membership benefits are the same. Memberships can even be purchased in someone else's name as a gift. Terms range from a six-month trial membership up to a three-year annual membership.

When you join and participate in the NHRA, some of the proceeds go to the following charities:

  • Beat the Heat -- drag racing education and promotion of safe communities
  • BRAKES -- Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe
  • Darrel Gwynn Foundation -- for spinal cord injuries
  • DRAW -- Drag Racing Association of Women
  • Racing for Cancer Research

Before joining the NHRA, you might be wondering what benefits you'll receive with your membership. Read on to the next section to find out more.


NHRA Benefits


­When you join the NHRA you receive benefits, both online and to your person. It doesn't matter where you live or when you purchase a membership, you'll receive the same benefits.


Online membership benefits include:

  • Web-only audiocasts of each day of every NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event
  • Online coverage of the National Dragster print magazine, with pre-print previews including pro coverage from Full Throttle Series events
  • A free personalized NHRA page that you can customize to display only the racing news and information you want
  • Free downloads of vintage and current dragster racing photos from the archives of National Dragster
  • Track and event locators, designated by zip code and mileage radius
  • Members-only travel discounts on car rentals and hotels

Other benefits include:

  • 48 issues of National Dragster magazine
  • Membership card, decal and yearly collector pins
  • Up-to-date NHRA Rulebook
  • NHRA Fan Guide
  • Admission discounts at Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events
  • Membership kits with gifts from the NHRA and NHRA sponsors
  • Discounts on official NHRA merchandise
  • NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Hospitality Center admission at select locations

[source: NHRA]

­If you're interested in learning more about the National Hot Rod Association, visit the group's Web site, read National Dragster magazine and check out the links in the next section.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • "NHRA in the Community Charities." (Accessed 01/08/09)
  • "NHRA Member Benefits." (Accessed 01/08/09)
  • "NHRA: World's Largest Racing Organization." (Accessed 01/08/09)
  • "NHRA History: Drag Racing 's Fast Start." (Accessed 01/08/09)
  • "General Participant Accident and Liability Insurance Information."
  • (Accessed 01/08/09)
  • (Accessed 01/08/09).
  • "U.S. Membership." (Accessed 01/08/09).
  • "Wyotech, an NHRA Youth and Education Services partner was out in full force at the 20th Annual NHRA." (Accessed 01/07/09)