Drag Racers (1950s)

Drag Racers (1950s)
International Photography Grant 2019

Drag racing clubs got involved with civic projects to curry good favor in their communities. They liaised with local police and disciplined drivers who practiced their lead-footed habits outside of officially sanctioned racing strips. They disapproved of illegal street racing as fervently as the law enforcement that aimed to shut it down, as it cast a negative light on the sport as a whole.

The future of the sport was in question, as national coalitions of police chiefs voiced disapproval and the National Safety Council announced its official stance against drag racing. Sponsors pulled out, and supporters found themselves grasping at statistics to try to disprove correlations between the sport and traffic fatalities.

Subject: Starter flagging dragsters to start at Eagle Mt. Fort Worth, Texas 1957 Photographer- A.Y. Owen Time Inc NOT OWNED merlin- 1202950

Starter flagging dragsters to start at Eagle Mt. Fort Worth, Texas 1957, Ralph Crane – The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

National Hot Rod Association's Drag Racing Meet Held in Santa Ana, Calif.

National Hot Rod Association’s Drag Racing Meet Held in Santa Ana, Calif, Ralph Crane – The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

National Hot Rod Association's National opening drag race held at the Orange County Airport.

National Hot Rod Association’s National opening drag race held at the Orange County Airport. Ralph Crane – The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

National Hot Rod Association's Drag Racing Meet Held in Santa Ana, Calif.

National Hot Rod Association’s Drag Racing Meet Held in Santa Ana, Calif. Ralph Crane – The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

National Hot Rod Association's Drag Racing Meet Held in Santa Ana, Calif.

National Hot Rod Association’s Drag Racing Meet Held in Santa Ana, Calif. Ralph Crane – The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Girl drag racer with crowd of dragsters at Eagle Mt.

Girl drag racer with crowd of dragsters at Eagle Mt. Ralph Crane – The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Subject: crowd of dragsters watching drag racing at Eagle Mt. Fort Worth, Texas 1957 Photographer- A.Y. Owen Time Inc NOT OWNED merlin- 1202948

Subject: crowd of dragsters watching drag racing at Eagle Mt. Fort Worth, Texas 1957. Ralph Crane – The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images merlin- 1202948

National Hot Rod Association's Drag Racing Meet Held in Santa Ana, Calif.

National Hot Rod Association’s Drag Racing Meet Held in Santa Ana, Calif. Ralph Crane – The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

National Hot Rod Association's Drag Racing Meet Held in Santa Ana, Calif.

National Hot Rod Association’s Drag Racing Meet Held in Santa Ana, Calif. Ralph Crane – The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

National Hot Rod Association's Drag Racing Meet Held in Santa Ana, Calif.

National Hot Rod Association’s Drag Racing Meet Held in Santa Ana, Calif. Ralph Crane – The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

National Hot Rod Association's Drag Racing Meet Held in Santa Ana, Calif.

National Hot Rod Association’s Drag Racing Meet Held in Santa Ana, Calif. Ralph Crane – The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

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International Photography Grant 2019