Illustration for article titled Wally Parks, Drag Racing Pioneer, Dead at 94

Would there have been drag racing without Wally Parks? Probably so. Maybe someone else would have hauled a time clock out to the dry lake beds of Southern California to keep the jalopy racers honest. Maybe today we'd be racing in one-eighth-mile increments, or half-mile, or in some chaotic combination. Pomona might have been home to one more shopping mall instead of the Winternationals. Maybe Bob Peterson would have edited Hot Rod himself. Then again, Maybe the LAPD and the lawyers and the insurance companies and the moral majority would have stuck a grand, municipal fork into drag racing in 1950. Maybe the ensuing generations would have been deprived the world-shaking roar of supertuned machinery and the acrid sting of nitromethane evaporating into the desert air. We'll never know. [Auto Week] See also NHRA tribute.

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