Super Gas Gains Speed in the NHRA

Live Octane · September 19, 2011 · Short URL:

Super Gas Gains Speed in the NHRA


We have all seen Super Gas racing and other indexed classes, but have you ever wondered how this class of sportsman drag racing actually got its name? Some call the “SUPER” classes “a one-off style of sportsman racing” that has revolutionized budget racing team participation.

The Super classes can be traced back to March of 1971, when a promoter named Dave Dorman sat down with his technical team at Redding Drag strip for a traditional pre-race meeting.  The group was going over their assigned tasks for the a special eight-car drag race they were promoting.

This was supposed to be one hell of a drag race, as local up-and-comers in Modified Gas, like Bob Bunker's '55 Chevy, Tom Thornhill's ‘63 Falcon and the Yuill Brothers’ 1967 Camaro, were expected to compete. There was only one problem though - this wild show didn't have a wild name. That is, until Dorman made a comment.

Dorman said, "Most tracks can afford to book Pro Stockers and Super Stockers. Hell, we can only afford Gassers. I guess we'll call them Super Gassers and Super Stockers.” After everybody laughed, they realized that they actually liked the idea and ended up promoting the race as a Super Gasser event. Thus, Super Gas came into existence and it remains one of the more popular race classes to this day.

In the beginning of Super Gas racing, Dorman ran these races without a time index. The format caught on like crazy. Most of the guys that raced in this program lived in Sacramento, CA, and in 1974, they approached Sacramento Raceway's Dave Smith about putting together a program to run on a regular basis at his track. After some discussion, the Super Gas class was adopted and it remains a solid race class at the raceway to this day.

A 9.90 second time index was later adopted and fields were limited to eight cars. As time progressed and more cars entered the class, the index was dropped first to 9.70 seconds and again to 9.50 in 1978. As these cars became a bigger part of more events, it was clear to drivers that they had to do everything they could to stay ahead of the competition, and soon these cars were flying down the track!

By 1978, Pro Gas had taken California by storm.  The Sacramento Raceway was the place to be if you lived in northern California and had drag racing fever, while in southern California, it was the famed Orange County International Raceway. Competition was fierce at both venues.

The NHRA soon became interested in the Super Gas idea. It provided the organization with a means to boost participation at NHRA sponsored events without the usual technical headaches often associated with policing a racing class division. Plus, it was an avenue for sportsman racers to compete on the national event level.

Today, the NHRA has more than 800 drivers and cars in the Super Gas racing class. With more and more people getting involved with racing and attending NHRA events, you can count on this class of racing to continue growing at a lighting fast speed.


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