California Pushes the NHRA All the Way to Indiana
Every morning we head to check the news, it seems as though we’re hit with more sweeping auto restrictions in California and businesses abandoning ship, packing up, and leaving the once Golden State. While any tax-payer leaving stings, this one is certainly an indicator of the times.
If you’re familiar with the history of hot rodding, you know it all started in Los Angeles in the 1930s and spread like wildfire throughout the country. The city was always considered the cradle of drag racing. Losing the NHRA to Indiana wasn’t a decision taken lightly by the organization and one the state will regret losing after a 70-year run.
As the National Hot Rod Association reaches its 70th season, it’s moved past its infancy and reached adulthood, seeking greener pastures. The teams and body that make up the organization have shifted their focus to Indianapolis, Indiana. The current office, residing in Glendora, California, an undoubtedly beautiful area nestled between the famed Angeles National Forest and 33 miles from Surf City USA, aka Huntington Beach, CA, wasn’t enough to keep them there.
The headquarters, valued at $4.6 million, is currently for sale. For the time being, some executives and operations will remain, but who knows for how long. Autoweek interviewed nitro driver and current Funny Car Team owner-crew chief Del Worsham, where he reflected on some of the best memories. He also mentioned the “gradual migration” he’s witnessed out of Southern California.
“When I started driving, nearly every Funny Car driver was based out of California and more specifically Southern California,” according to Worsham. “There were so many manufacturers there that if you were in the Orange County area, you could have a car built, your clutch built, an engine built. Basically, anything you needed was in Southern California. It just made sense to have your Funny Car there. Everybody was here. Not as much today.”
Many state leaders have come to California and poached businesses with tax abatements. The state of Indiana did the same. They offered generous benefits to racing-related corporations in an effort to preserve their reputation as the Motorsports Capital of the World. With the punishing restrictions in California, it was an offer the NHRA couldn’t resist, despite the history.
The news for many enthusiasts feels like the final nail in the coffin. The good ‘ole days of running down to the overcrowded tracks scattered throughout Southern California are slowly dying. News like California banning gas-powered cars by 2035 or another recent story where modified ECU’s failing smog check have made it too hostile of an environment for the diverse car culture.
While the landscape is changing, racing is not. The NHRA has made a move to safeguard its future, which is bright. Either way, as we reflect on the memories of what seems to be a simpler time, we must remember – the best is always ahead of us.