We have reached part four of our five part series addressing the most influential people in drag racing. Again, this is a random list, not a countdown. These are in no particular order.
30. Donald Long – Multi-Time Promoter of the Year
This decision shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. For about 10 years now, Donald has revolutionized the world of small tire racing. While radial tire racing was around for years in the NMRA, Fun Ford, and other areas, it wasn’t until Donald decided to bring it to the forefront that it really took off. His yearly races, Lights Out and No Mercy have become a must attend for everyone in the radial tire world. A few months back, Donald decided to step it up and pay out a record $101k to the winner of his Sweet Sixteen race in March at South Georgia Motorsports Park. There are already about 35 cars locked in with another 30+ planning on locking in. Since Donald brought radial racing to the front, you can now find a radial race almost every weekend of the year someplace across the country. His influence is nothing short of amazing within our industry. While nothing lasts forever, we certainly hope that Donald doesn’t have plans of hanging it up anytime soon.
Person asked to be removed.
32. Richard Shute – Professional Photographer
I told you that Mark wasn’t going to be the only photographer on our list. For those that don’t know, Richard has been a staple on the NHRA scene for longer than I have been on this planet. In fact, I believe that Richard has been signing his own checks since about 1976. That’s 42 years next season for you math wizards. There is a reason that he is so influential, and that’s because he is one of the absolute go to’s in the industry when it comes to photography. His company creates a lot of the content that you see on trailers, advertisements, and so many other places. There isn’t much that Richard hasn’t see in NHRA history.
33. Mike Janis – Janis Superchargers
Just when you thought there wasn’t must you could still do with a supercharger, Mike Janis has shown us differently. His Janis Superchargers have been pulled out front for a couple years now and continues to grow. While the technology as a whole has been around for a mighty long time, Mike’s work and efforts have people clamoring for his products. Mike has also been running his own Pro Mod in NHRA. There are other pro mod drivers like Adam Flamholc that are winning with the Janis blowers. Look for Mike’s blowers to continue to be on the front runners in our sport for a long time to come. You can also see his Jan-Cen racing engines in the winners circle.
34. David Hance – Promoter and Drag Racing Icon
There is not a list about influence without having the one person that has broken records, raced about everything with wheels, and still strongly supports the drag racing world. Less than a decade ago there were a lot less big races and there were not iconic races. Shakedown at ETown was a race that no one dared missed. Dave has also been on the frontlines of Drag Radial, Pro Mod, and Outlaw 10.5. He is still fighting to get a more universal set of rules for pro mod, (which I remind him won’t happen), and is still very much an influence to race promoters and racers alike. We certainly hope that Dave decides to step out of the shadows one of these days and show people how it’s done once again.
35. Scott Smith - NHRA Director of Media Relations
Very few of you will know who Scott is, but he is what I liken to the key master. He is the one that you go through to obtain media credentials. There are very few people with the power that he and his staff hold when it comes to NHRA drag racing. If you want your outlet to have the ability to cover NHRA races, he is the man to talk to.
36. Rickie Smith – Drag Racing Icon
There is always argument about who is the best door slammer racer ever to put an ass in the seat. If there was a Mount Rushmore of door slammer racing, there is absolutely no way you wouldn’t put Rickie up there. Being a nitrous racer for longer than I can remember, Rickie is always involved in making sure there is a level paying field for their combos. There are few that are more outspoken when it comes to nitrous racing than Rickie is. While plenty of people pop of at the mouth about things they don’t really know, Rickie is the opposite of that. He is the one that actually understands exactly how things work, whether it be weight here or there, or any other part of his Camaro. Rickie has shown that his Musi powered Pro Mod continues to be competitive at the highest level of racing. We look forward to seeing the legend strap in for the 2018 season and show the world what a nitrous pro mod can really do.
37. Tommy & Judy Franklin – Co-Founders PDRA
Few people in drag racing are more family orientated. The Franklin family really has proved that the family that races together stays together. Tommy, who is one of the founders of PDRA, is also a Pro Nitrous Champion. Oh, and recently purchased Virginia Motorsports Park. He and his wife Judy are the continuing driving force when it comes to pro mod on the east coast. PDRA is going into their fifth season in 2018 and shows that they are still strong. Putting on an amazing product, all while Tommy continues to work a 9-5 at Franklin Electric. Tommy and Judy aren’t just the driving force behind PDRA, they are also the parents to World Champion Jr. Dragster driver Amber Franklin.
38. Scott Palmer – NHRA Outlaw
Wanna do it your way? The No Hero Shit Way? Well then Scott Palmer is your guy. The driver of the Tommy Thompson, CatSpot Litter backed Nitro car has been showing people that you can have fun and not also be the straight laced, boring, computer generated driver. If you go to a NHRA event and head over to Scott’s pit, you will see a mighty crowd or people smiling and clapping. Scott is going to do it his way and enjoy doing it that way. He is bringing back the idea that you can actually have a personality and people, along with sponsors will follow. 2017 was a tough season, but Scott is someone that should be holding classes for some of these other drivers on how to act and how to treat fans. Scott is the Rockstar of the Nitro pits.
39. Eric Dillard - Co-Founder Proline Racing
There is no a person involved in drag racing that hasn’t heard of Proline Racing. Eric Dillard is the face of and Co-Founder of Proline. Over the years, there aren’t many records that Eric’s company hasn’t held. Whether it was in 10.5, Radial, Pro Mod, and numerous other classes. You will also find Proline engines in most of the quickest street cars in America. From humble upbringings in Georgia, to a worldwide star, Eric is not only a business man, he is also one of the best wheelmen in all of drag racing. That was proven long ago and reinforced when he took home a Wally by winning in Pro Mod at the U.S. Nationals. Proline currently holds the World Record for the quickest and fastest doorslammers ¼ mile. Eric is also smart enough to surround himself with an excellent staff including Proline’s Co-Owner Doug Patton, and others like Kerry, Bud, Pinky, and more. Eric continues to lead the turbo community in the 21st century.