Many people had high hopes for National Challenge 74. There was some good racing, but when it was over, the racing had been foreshadowed by anger, frustration and confusion.

(From Super Stock & Drag Illustrated, December, 1974)

THERE MAY NOT EVER BE another National Challenge. Despite some sparkling performances by John Wiebe in Top Fuel, Don Prudhomme in Funny Car and Bill Jenkins in Pro Stock, the race bordered on being a disaster because it was, without too much question, a strong candidate for the most poorly executed drag race in history. Though the Professional Racers Organization came away from National Challenge with money in the bank (not nearly as much as pre-race publicity had anticipated, but money in the bank nonetheless}, it is at this time highly questionable as to whether or not it will survive. Don Garlits, who founded it, has stated that he doesn't care to have anything more to do with it, having resigned as president during the race. Many of the racers felt that they may have been duped, or at the very least, sorely mistreated by the management. Many of the manufacturers who posted contingency money are upset because as it turned out, they felt their money was improperly posted and without their knowledge by the track. Canadian Top Fuel pilot Terry Capp suffered an ordeal in which he was ejected from the race under questionable circumstances after repeated disputes with track manager and race director Ed Eaton. The number of disputes and heated arguments rivaled that of a political convention. Ed Eaton claimed that the P.R.O. members and officials arbitrarily bent rules to their advantage on several occasions, did not fulfill contract obligations for the race, and improperly interfered with his running of the race, thus themselves turning it into a shambles. On the other hand, many P.R.O. officials and racers feel that it was the incompetence and arbitrariness of Ed Eaton that actually was the source of all the trouble.

What really happened in New York on that weekend???

In all probability, no one can be absolutely sure because, as we've come to find out in assembling our coverage, there's simply too much to know, and too much that one couldn't be sure of. Conflicting versions quite simply abound.

The following special section contains three different accounts of National Challenge 74. The first is by journalist and contributing Editor Steve Alexander, who was assigned to cover the race. In it, Steve recounts his experiences at the race, touching on the hostility between the track and the automotive press, the Terry Capp incident (which snow-balled into perhaps the major disruption), the topsy-turvy running of the race, and the frustration that marked the conclusion of the event. The second is an exclusive to Lopez Publications from National Speedway track manager Ed Eaton, in which he documents his claim that P.R.O. did not fulfill contract obligations, and in which he presents a summary of his version of what went wrong. The third is a recounting by staff photographer Jeff Tinsley of the racing activity that did take place.

We do not feel that even these three versions of the race capture all that happened, nor touch upon all the salient points.

We have seen fit to seek out further information for the purpose of an analysis. However, such analysis, we feel, belongs more suitably in the editorial column. Should you desire to know the magazine's position on what, in the final analysis, djd actually happen, you can find it there. We do feel, though, that what follows is an accurate portrayal of many aspects of National Challenge 74. We sincerely hope that you will give it the time it deserves, because it has a lot to say that bears on the future of drag racing. If nothing else comes out of all the aggravation, hostility and grief, at the very least, there are lessons to be learned.


Steve Alexander's Version

Jeff Tinsley - Round by Round

Ed Eaton's Version


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