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1986 NHRA Summernationals – Englishtown, NJ (58 min)
The 1986 Summernationals marked the midpoint of the NHRA season. Bob Glidden, who suffered a horrendous
crash a couple months earlier when his Ford Thunderbird rolled 6 times at the Southern Nationals, was back
with a new car, setting a new low elapsed time record. In qualifying, Don Garlits experienced his first blowover.
Swamp Rat XXX lifted at mid-track and flipped backwards, one of the most unforgettable moments in drag
racing history (blowovers would soon become something many top name Top Fuel drivers would experience as
aerodynamics and speeds increased significantly in the later half of the 1980’s). In the event, it was Dick
LaHaie (with his daughter Kim as crew chief) losing to Darrell Gwynn in Top Fuel, Kenny Bernstein defeats John
Force in Funny Car. In Pro Stock, Bob Glidden was upset by Don Coonce in the semi-finals, then Coonce would
himself be defeated by Warren Johnson in the finals (Warren Johnson and Don Coonce were driving identical
black and silver Olds Firenzas with 500 cubic inch Oldsmobile engines). This is an original American Sports
Cavalcade broadcast from the USA Network, with the original commercials. There is one small glitch in the VHS
tape conversion that lasts about 10 seconds going into a commercial break, but overall quality is excellent.
1986 NHRA U.S. Nationals – Indianapolis, IN (87 min)
The U.S. Nationals, the biggest race of the NHRA season, proved to be one of the most memorable events of the year.
Dick LaHaie proved once again that a low budget Top Fuel operation can still be competitive. LaHaie defeats ex-NFL
quarterback Dan Pastorini, but then goes down in defeat to “The Wolf” Darrell Gwynn. Joe Amato defeats Gary Beck,
and in what was considered the ‘old geezer’ race, Big Daddy defeats Gene Snow, not an easy task for Garlits as Snow
had become extremely competitive in both NHRA and IHRA in the past year. In the semi-finals, Garlits upsets the
always tough Joe Amato. Big Daddy moves on to the finals, where he faces his nemesis Darrell Gwynn, who had just set
a new national et record in qualifying, breaking a record that had stood for 3 years. In a dramatic showdown, Garlits
takes the win, and the famous Garlits vs Gwynn rivalry continued. In Funny Car, Kenny Bernstein’s Budweiser King Ford
Tempo remained the dominant car. John Force, still looking for his first NHRA win (Force set a record for the most
runner-ups without a victory), is defeated by Mike Dunn, driving the Joe Pisano car. Mark Oswald defeats Ed
McCulloch, and Bernstein takes out Jim White. Billy Meyer has a massive explosion that destroys his Chief Auto Parts
Mustang funny car body, so he borrowed one of Bernstein’s Budweiser King shells, then defeats Johnny West’s
Hawaiian Punch car. The semi-final round had the unlikely pair of Mike Dunn vs Kenny Bernstein, and in a dramatic upset,
Dunn takes the win. The final round had Billy Meyer (wearing the Budweiser King body) losing to Mike Dunn. The U.S.
Nationals was also the sight of the Mr. Gasket Pro Stock Challenge, a race within a race (like the Big Bud Shootout),
pitting the best NHRA Pro Stockers in a showdown for a cash prize. The producers of this broadcast chose to show the
Mr. Gasket Pro Stock challenge instead of the regular U.S. Nationals Pro Stock rounds, as they were more dramatic
(Bob Glidden would defeat Bruce Allen for the U.S. Nationals title). In the Mr. Gasket Pro Stock Challenge, in a stunning
first round upset, Gordie Rivera pulls a holeshot on Bob Glidden (who ran a faster et and mph) to take the win, while
Joe Lepone does the same to Warren Johnson. The final round had Butch Leal vs Bruce Allen, and Allen takes the win.
This is an original American Sports Cavalcade broadcast from the USA Network, with the original commercials.