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At the 1970 Winternationals in Pomona, California, a new category emerged into the limelight for the first time. An evolution of the Super Stock classes, Pro Stock would pit naturally-aspirated cars that looked like showroom-fresh machines the public could go buy together in heads-up competition. Legendary names like Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins, Ronnie Sox, Wally Booth, Dick Landy, and other hot shoes that had seen plenty of success in the Super Stock classes would qualify, with names like Bob Glidden, Butch Leal and Herb McCandless not making the cut. The field of cars equals a dream list: five Hemi Plymouths and three Hemi Dodges would do battle against five Rat-motored Camaros and three SOHC-powered Ford Mavericks. Ronnie Sox and his Hemi 'Cuda had the audiences' attention, right up until "Grumpy" blasted off a 9.98 at 138.46 elapsed time. By the final round, all of the Fords had been parked and it was Jenkins' Camaro against Sox's 'Cuda. Jenkins would win the day (9.99 at 139.53 for Jenkins, 10.12 at 138.67 for Sox) but Ronnie Sox would win the war as the first Pro Stock champion. The common theme that came from everyone who reported from the event: Pro Stock was the star of the show.
Bob Glidden's Ford Thunderbird vs. Bruce Allen's Reher-Morrison Chevrolet Beretta
Between the inaugural year and the 900th race at the 2022 Winternationals sits 899 races filled with engineering advances, creativity, technological advances, and the kind of creative rule-bending that racers understand best. Over the years, ten manufacturers have sent 84 body styles into battle. You want oddball cars? How about Wally Booth's AMCs, Larry Peternel's 1981 Imperial, the Gapp & Roush "Tijuana Taxi" Ford Maverick sedan and Mike Senia's "Beyond Criticism" Cadillac Eldorado. Engines? Everything from high-RPM small-block V8s to the 700+ cubic inch "Mountain Motor" era nuclear weapons and just about everything in between. From 1970s subcompacts to aerodynamically slick 1990s Pontiac Firebirds, Pro Stock has been the class that tries to bridge the gap between the Funny Car and the cars in the parking lot.
The 900th Pro Stock Race trophy
In celebration of the 900th NHRA Pro Stock race in the history of the organization, Hurst and the NHRA got together to create a special trophy to celebrate the momentous event. Using an iconic Hurst shifter handle and equally well known T-style Hurst grip mounted to a walnut base which was adorned with a gold plaque, the trophy became the most coveted object in the Pro Stock pits once the racers saw it on Friday. The Hurst shifter and T-handle were found in virtually every entry at the 1970 NHRA Winternationals where the Pro Stock class was born. It only made sense, 899 races later, to call back on that glorious history and award the winner with this special trophy. Ultimately Erica Enders won the trophy, a piece of history she snatched up before being handed her NHRA Wally, further signifying the importance in history of this fantastic commemorative piece! Hurst continues to be an industry leader today, providing the highest quality shifters for classic cars, trucks, modern muscle cars, and more!