Motor Sports Pioneer Wally Parks Dies At 94

Saturday, September 29th 2007, 7:11 pm
By: News On 6

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) _ Wally Parks, an Oklahoma native and automobile enthusiast who founded the National Hot Rod Association and helped turn drag racing into a legitimate sport, has died.

Parks, who was born in the northwestern Oklahoma town of Goltry in 1913, died yesterday at age 94 at a Burbank, California, hospital.

As a test driver for General Motors, Parks started organizing car races in Southern California's dry lake beds in the 1940s.

He is credited with setting the distance of a quarter of a mile as the standard length of a drag race.

He formed the NHRA in 1951 out of those loosely organized desert races. It grew from a simple car club into a governing body events across the nation.

In the 1950s, he also served as founding editor of Hot Rod magazine, which chronicled the burgeoning sport.

Parks spent three years in the Army serving in the South Pacific during World War II.