Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 5, Page

By Jeff Burk
DRO file photos

When I was the senior editor for Drag Racing Magazine I went to cover the 1987 Winston All-Star race at Atlanta Dragway for my editor Dave Wallace and Publisher Jim Adolph. As luck would have it both Mr. Wally Parks and the late C.J. Hart were at that race. I asked Wally if he would do an interview with me and he said he would as long as it was taped. We decided to use C.J. Hart’s motorhome to do the interview and as luck would have it C.J. Hart came in during the interview. I’ve had the tapes in my archives since and with the passing of Mr. Hart and with Mr. Parks's continuing involvement with the day-to-day operation of the NHRA I thought I would dig up that taped interview. Mr. Parks talked about the early years of NHRA and how it and Hot Rod Magazine came to be. We publish the interview to honor Mr. Hart and Mr. Parks and hopefully inform the current generation of drag racers to both the history of the NHRA, and Wally Parks who started it all.

  Well, the first thing I wanted to ask you, is that I think you started the SCTA in 1937, is that right?

PARKS: I helped.

  How old were you at that time?

PARKS:  I must have been about 8. (chuckle) There are a few subjects you won't get a straight answer on.

  The only reason I ask that question is because I was wondering how young you were when you got started with the drive to organize motor sports, teens, early 20s?

PARKS: Late teens.

  What in your life motivated you to get involved with motorsports and racing?

PARKS: I was interested in cars from high school and that was because the school (auto) shop instructor was building model T roadsters as class projects. I was taking print

shop and I used to have to go by the auto shop on the way to the print shop and I spent time watching them do that. I got excited about doing that so I got myself a Model T and some parts and started putting them together. There was a lot of that going on at that time where I lived so as a result of that I was interested in making cars out of pieces you could get out of junk yards and places like that.

I went up to one of the really really early dry lake drags up at Muroc, didn't have anything to do and they needed someone to stand up there on the phone halfway down the course.  They had a 3-mile course and they needed someone to stand in the back of dump truck bed out in the sun, on the phone, to let them know how things looked in the back of the track and I volunteered.  I was so fascinated in what I heard over that (phone) line about what was going on that I went on and formed the SCTA and it stuck.  That was what motivated me to get involved with the organization because when the SCTA was formed they needed a lot of people to do various jobs and the fact was I didn't have any money to build a racecar.

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