WALLY PARKS, our forefather and founder of our great hobby has passed. This has been a bad year for those who founded and set the standards that we live by today. Im not going to get into massive details so read on and search to learn more about him.
There is no hot rod organization or piece of major history that Wally Parks has not been involved in. He has been named Man of the Decade (1962-1972); Man of The Year by SEMA; received the prestigious Robert Petersen Life Time Achievement Award and practically every other award in the automotive industry.
In his teens in the mid 30’s, Wally soon had himself a Model T that he souped up and used on the streets. A trip to Muroc Dry Lakes convinced him that hot rodding was the only way forward. As a member of the Road Runners Club, Wally was instrumental in organizing the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) in 1937, an organization that is going strong today.
In 1947 Wally helped Robert Petersen start Hot Rod Magazine, becoming its first editor and later editorial director of all 5 Petersen automotive magazines. The magazine was influential in legitimizing hot rodding to an audience across the country.
Due to the bad publicity hot rodding was getting in the press, primarily because of street racing, Wally, along with pioneers Petersen and Ak Miller, Eric Rickman et al, formed the National Hot Rod Association. Through their Safety Safari, Wally and the crew set out across country promoting the new sport of drag racing. They would hold meetings with local officials and police and promote the use of disused air strips as a way of getting hot rodders off the street. Today the NHRA is the world’s largest motorsports governing body.
Wally Parks was also instrumental in opening up Bonneville Salt Flats to hot rodders in 1949. Today hot rod enthusiasts still enjoy racing there.
It goes without saying that without Wally Parks hot rodding and drag racing would be a very different sport than it is today.