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January 23: Wally Parks, founder of the NHRA and Hot Rod editor, was born 100 years ago today

January 23, 2013

Sixty years before "The Fast & the Furious," street races in southern California drew huge crowds and swarms of hot-rodded Fords, along with the myriad dangers of illicit nightime fun. It was journalist Wally Parks — himself a Ford hot-rodder and racer, who would help found Motor Trend and oversee Hot Rod magazine — who envisioned a more legal, safe approach to lighting up rubber. By enlisting law enforcement agencies to bless sites, Parks and his National Hot Rod Association brought drag racing out of the shadows into the spotlight. Parks would have been 100 years old today; his NHRA remains the largest racing organizing body in the world.