NHRA Museum – A Walk Among Giants
The NHRA Museum, official known as the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California, is home to nearly 100 historical drag cars, lakesters, streamliners, hot rods, gassers, trucks and motorcycles. Its display cases are crammed with racing memorabilia, helmets, photographs, trophies, firesuits, artwork and artifacts chronicling more than 60 years of American motorsports. But it wasn’t always that way.
National Hot Rod Association founder Wally Parks had always dreamed about opening a drag racing museum. Originally known as NHRA Historical Services, NHRA’s first “museum” opened in 1992 and was located in a small building across the street from the Los Angeles County Fairplex, home of Pomona Raceway. It was a modest display consisting of fewer than a dozen race cars, a handful of old firesuits, and some photographs. Although it was small, Parks knew that it was just the beginning of his vision of preserving the past and educating the future about the sport of drag racing and the hot rodding culture that surrounded it.
A few years later, NHRA Historical Services moved its small collection into a 28,500-square-foot historic building on the edge of the Fairplex grounds – and the NHRA Museum was born.
Parks’ dream became reality on April 4, 1998, when the museum opened its doors to the public. “It’s great to be able to put the museum near Pomona Raceway,” Parks said. “The Museum is going to be a very special place.” Twenty years later, the museum has lived up to Parks’ prediction.
In addition to its rotating exhibits, it has hosted hundreds of special events, kickoff parties, memorial services for hot rodding’s elite as well as many hot rod show & shine gatherings and cruises.
The NHRA Museum isn’t only a draw for drag racing stars. Numerous hot rodding pioneers have participated in special functions as well: So-Cal Speed Shop’s Alex Xydias and Pete Chapouris, Gene Winfield, Ed Iskenderian, not to mention George Barris, Blackie Gejeian, and Vic Edelbrock. Even rock-and-roll royalty such as Billy Gibbons, Jeff Beck, Michael Anthony, and Jimmy Vaughn have been spotted at the Museum.
The Museum has hosted several revolving exhibits over the years; including Toyota Racing, George Barris Kustoms, Ford Racing, Mooneyes, Mickey Thompson Racing, Parnelli Jones, Coker Tire and currently a special Gale Banks Engineering exhibit.
Two of the most popular events put on by the Museum are the California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield, Calif., and the National Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, Ky.; principal sources of revenue for the non-profit facility. For the locals, there’s the wildly popular cruise night held the first Wednesday of every month from April to December that has been a huge hit for years.
There is truly something for everyone at the NHRA Museum. Whether you’re a drag racing fan, a hot rodder, an automobile aficionado, or you just like cars, you are sure to be impressed with the collection of iconic race cars and memorabilia on display here. The NHRA Motorsports Museum is a must-see attraction anytime you’re in Southern California.