January 23, 1913|
Goltry, Oklahoma, United States
|Died||September 28, 2007
Burbank, California, United States
|Occupation||Founder, President, Chairman of NHRA; automobile writer, editor, and hobbyist.|
Wallace Gordon ("Wally") Parks (January 23, 1913 – September 28, 2007) was instrumental in establishing drag racing as a legitimate amateur and professional motorsport. He was the Founder, President, and the Chairman of the Board of the National Hot Rod Association, better known as NHRA. Parks was also an accomplished automobile writer and hobbyist, and co-founder and first editor of the magazine Hot Rod in the late 1940s. He was also instrumental in the founding of Motor Trend magazine in 1948. As editor of Hot Rod, he began to promote safety in the organization of drag racing, both in the magazine and by organizing "Safety Safaris," the first of which toured the U.S.A. in 1954, teaching drag race organization and safety at tracks around the country. This was the first concerted effort in getting racers off the streets and into controlled race tracks. Parks died in 2007 due to complications from pneumonia, at the age of 94.
In 1951, he founded the National Hot Rod Association, which stands today as the largest motorsports sanctioning body in the world, and became its head for several decades after leaving the magazine business. His wife, Barbara, who preceded him in death in 2006, worked for the NHRA as its Chief Secretary in its formative years.
Winners of National Hot Rod Association national events are awarded a trophy statue nicknamed "The Wally." The trophy is a bronze statue of a Top Gas racer next to a tire on a wooden platform. As the NHRA celebrated its 60th anniversary season in 2011, pewter Wally trophies were awarded to all of the winners during that season. Other events celebrating milestones may awards Wally trophies in varying colors.
- Goldstein, Richard (4 October 2007). "Wally Parks, Drag Racing Pioneer, Dies at 94". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 16 November 2010.
- Hot Rod Magazine, January 1965, Pages 50-56; Wally Parks, Drag Racing: Yesterday and Today, Trident Press, New York, 1966, Page 219.
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