How many sports can spectators actually feel? Just one: NHRA Championship Drag Racing. The incredible thunder and vibration of two 6,000-horsepower race cars launching at 6 G's of acceleration can be felt by the fans in the grandstands. At the finish line less than five seconds later, the spectacle of two 25-foot Top Fuel dragsters bending against the downforce in a struggle to keep all four tires on the ground at 330 mph is unforgettable.

But that's just the beginning. The National Hot Rod Association offers a variety of ways for people of all ages to get into the exciting sport of drag racing. Whether you're a new fan, an aspiring racer, or a little of both, this guide will introduce you to the world's fastest motorsport.

National Hot Rod Association founder Wally Parks and his associates virtually invented drag racing. They organized NHRA more than 50 years ago, establishing standards and procedures that govern the sport to this day.

Concerned about the growth of illegal street racing in the 1950s, NHRA's pioneers embarked on a "Safety Safari" across the United States. They traveled from city to town, introducing organized drag racing to one car club at a time and teaching how to conduct fair races in such humble arenas as abandoned airport runways. Their intent was to give car enthusiasts a safe place to race. Their result was the birth of a world-class motorsport that so far has spanned six decades.

Throughout the years, NHRA Championship Drag Racing has been responsible for innumerable advances in automotive performance, driver and vehicle safety, and, of course, flat-out speed. The sport has grown to encompass five major drag racing series, countless performance categories, and worldwide exposure on television and in print. NHRA's brightest stars have become sports legends, and its brightest moments have been stunning. One need only look as far as "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, Shirley Muldowney, Don "the Snake" Prudhomme, and John Force to grasp drag racing's effect on American culture.

As drag racing stars have broken barrier after barrier in the never-ending pursuit of speed, NHRA has been there to guide the growth of what has become, inarguably, the world's fastest motorsport.

To learn more about NHRA's history, visit the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, Calif.

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