Wally Parks

Wally Parks

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Wallace Gordon Parks (January 23, 1913 – September 28, 2007) was instrumental in establishing drag racing as a legitimate amateur and professional motorsport. He was the Founder, President, and the Chairman of the Board of the National Hot Rod Association
National Hot Rod Association
The National Hot Rod Association is a drag racing governing body, which sets rules in drag racing and host events all over the United States and Canada...

, better known as NHRA. Parks was also an accomplished automobile writer and hobbyist, and co-founder and first editor of the magazine Hot Rod
Hot Rod Magazine
Hot Rod is an American monthly magazine devoted to hot rodding, —modifying automobiles for performance and appearance.-History:Hot Rod is the oldest magazine devoted to hot rodding having been published since 1948. Robert E. Petersen founded the magazine and his Petersen Publishing Company...

in the late 1940s. He was also instrumental in the founding of Motor Trend
Motor Trend
Motor Trend is an American automobile magazine. It first appeared in September 1949, issued by Petersen Publishing Company in Los Angeles, and bearing the tag line "The Magazine for a Motoring World". Petersen Publishing was sold to British publisher EMAP in 1998, who sold the former Petersen...

magazine in 1948. As editor of Hot Rod, he began to promote safety in the organization of drag racing
Drag racing
Drag racing is a competition in which specially prepared automobiles or motorcycles compete two at a time to be the first to cross a set finish line, from a standing start, in a straight line, over a measured distance, most commonly a ¼-mile straight track....

, both in the magazine and by organizing "Safety Safaris," the first of which toured the U.S.A. in 1954, teaching drag race organization and safety at tracks around the country. This was the first concerted effort in getting racers off the streets and into controlled race tracks. Parks died in 2007 due to complications from pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

, at the age of 94.

In 1951, he founded the National Hot Rod Association, which stands today as the largest motorsports sanctioning body in the world, and became its head for several decades after leaving the magazine business. His wife, Barbara
Barbara
-People:* Barbara , people with the given name Barbara* Etienne Barbara , Maltese soccer player* Barbara , stage name of French singer Monique Andrée Serf-Places:* Barbara , ancient region in the Horn of Africa...

, who preceded him in death in 2006, worked for the NHRA as its Chief Secretary in its formative years.

Parks played a part in promoting drag racing outside of the U.S.A., organising tours to England in 1964 and 1965, in collaboration with Sydney Allard
Sydney Allard
Sydney Herbert Allard was the founder of the Allard car company and a successful racing motorist. He was remarkable in that he achieved sporting success in cars of his own manufacture....

, and to Australia in 1966.

Prior to his death, he was Chairman of the Board of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum
Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum
The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California, is located at Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Bldg. 3A, in Pomona, California 91768, USA. It houses a collection of memorabilia, automobiles and motorcycles related to the sport of hot rodding. ...

 in Pomona, California
Pomona, California
-2010:The 2010 United States Census reported that Pomona had a population of 149,058, a slight decline from the 2000 census population. The population density was 6,491.2 people per square mile...

.

Winners of National Hot Rod Association
National Hot Rod Association
The National Hot Rod Association is a drag racing governing body, which sets rules in drag racing and host events all over the United States and Canada...

 national events are awarded a trophy statue nicknamed "The Wally
The Wally
The Wally is the trophy awarded to winners of an NHRA national event. They have been handed out at national events starting with the 1969 NHRA race season. With an antique brass plating over a standard metal mix and a solid walnut base, the "Wally" is 18 inches tall and weighs 12 pounds...

." The trophy is a bronze statue of a man next to a tire on a wooden platform. However, as the NHRA celebrates its 60th anniversary season in 2011, pewter Wally trophies are awarded to all of the winners during the season.

Awards


He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America is a Hall of Fame and museum for American motorsports legends. It was originally located in Novi, Michigan and it moved to the Detroit Science Center in 2009.-Museum:...

 in 1993 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame
International Motorsports Hall of Fame
The International Motorsports Hall of Fame is a Hall of Fame dedicated to enshrining those who have contributed the most to auto racing either as a driver, owner, developer or engineer...

in 1992.