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Throwback! 1984 U.S Nationals Pro Stock Eliminations Round 2!

Although I was only a toddler at the time, I can all but guarantee I was watching this broadcast the first time it aired all the way back in 1984. I always had an affinity for Pro Stock, and this clip is a great look at the cars and drivers that helped build that love for the class I’ll always call my favorite.

What’s not to like about wheels-up launches from the drivers dumping the clutch, an art form that’s all but vanished from the automotive world, and side-by-side races often decided by less than a car length? Nevermind the fact that, at this point in the class’ history, the drivers literally grabbed gears, pulling 4 individual levers as the car screamed through the quarter mile, just the sounds of the naturally aspirated 500 CID engines spinning up to 5-digit RPM’s was more than enough to hook me, and I’ve been a huge fan of the class ever since.

In this video from the 1984 US Nationals, we get to see some of the true legends of the class going head to head for the right to race for the most coveted trophy in all of drag racing, an Indy Wally! Such names as Lee Shepherd, 10-time world champion Bob Glidden and the winningest driver in class history, Warren Johnson.

Shepherd, who likely would rank among the winningest drivers in all of drag racing had he not been killed in a testing incident in 1985, took an uncharacteristic early loss when mechanical issues caused his car to slow alongside Gordie Rivera, who was ecstatic to get the win against the dominant Shepherd. Up next, Glidden took down New Jersey native Frank Iaconio to earn a berth in the semifinals, while Johnson took down Ronnie Manchester. In the final race of the round, Ken Dondero took down Joe Lepone Jr with a big holeshot win.

In the semifinals, Glidden and Johnson would both advance, lining up a final round between two literal titans of Pro Stock history. The video doesn’t show the outcome, but Johnson took the win to earn his first US Nationals victory.