Wally Parks   1913 - Sept 28, 2007   RIP

   As you know, Wally Parks, founder of the NHRA and longtime hot rod aficionado and benefactor has passed away on Sept 28, 2007 at the age of 94.   Wally has done more for our hobby and industry than any other single person we can think of ....  Founder of the NHRA,  One of the founders of Hot Rod Magazine, helping to form the SCTA, the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum .... all of which came from the boyhood love of hot rods !   In the early 30’s they raced on the streets and later on abandoned airstrips and dry lake beds. It was Wally Parks who in 1947 made the proposal to open Bonneville Salt Flats to racing.
   His accomplishments are many and his friends number in the thousands .... the impact Wally Parks had on so many of us was profound and he will be dearly missed.  We have a note below from Richard and David Parks in which they would like to hear from any of you who have stories, photos, and memories of their father to share and from those of you who have sentiments to pass along. We will add to this daily .... and pass all of your wishes and stories along to Richard and David. 

Dear Friends and Family:
 My brother David and I want to thank you for your emails, letters and phone calls re- garding our father's passing. We visited him on September 23 and he was ready to come home, but an infection developed. David and Marilyn saw him on Thursday, September 27 and he was in critical condition. On Friday, September 28, around 7 pm, he passed away in the presence of about 18 of his family and friends. It happened so suddenly that we were unable to send out word except by the www.NHRA.com website. My Dad, brother and I were nearly finished with his book on the origins of the SCTA (Southern California Timing Association) and after that he was going to finish his memoirs. Our loss is also a great loss for all those who knew and loved him and looked up to him for guidance and wisdom. Plans to honor him are being formed by the NHRA, family and friends. We look forward to knowing more about him through your memories of him. My brother and I hope to complete his life story, though we know it will never match the story that he wanted to leave to us all. Since his lifelong goal in life was to perpetuate safety in racing and to get young people to use safe racetracks and stop street racing, that is the way to honor his memory. In lieu of flowers, if you wish, you can send a donation to the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum and support the museum, whose goals are to foster the ideals for which he dedicated his life.
Thank you again for your love and support at this time.
Richard and David Parks and our families

jack wally parks

Alex Xydias, Jim Clark, Wally Parks, Jack Lawford

  The last time we saw Wally Parks was at the 32 Ford Anniversary dinner at the Grand National Roadster Show in January this year. He was having such a great time reminiscing with the many racers and rodders he had known for so many years.  As always Wally had a smile on his face and a good word for everyone who stopped to talk to him.  Our biggest compliment from Wally Parks came by way of Richard ....  Richard told us that his Dad wasn’t much on the internet or computers but that when he was over at his Dad’s office the previous week he had seen a HotRod HotLine business card sitting on his Dad’s computer ....... Now that’s a HUGE Compliment .... one that we really covet to this day..... Jack and Mary Ann Lawford   Hotrodhotline.com

One afternoon at the second or third Hot Rod Reunion I was cruising the pits in my 1929 hiboy roadster, you could do that back then, I had stopped to speak to some of my racer friends and was talking with them when I heard a voice say “ Hey, that’s a nice roadster, it reminds me of my old one” I turned around to see who said that and it was Wally Parks. I felt like God himself came up said that. No award or prize could be more valuable to me than having Mr. Parks say that about my car. I will cherish that memory forever and I’ve told this story a hundred times.
John Good, Ventura, CA


James Drew, Wally Parks, and Jim Edmunds

It was such an honor to have gotten to meet and on occasion speak with your father Wally Parks, I can not remember the very first time I got to meet him at Ontario Motor Speedway or L.A. County Fairgrounds in Pomona Ca. I had to be around 11 or 12 years old that first time and he took the time to talk with me flash forward a lot of years later and your dad and I would see each other at the drag races and on the occasion's i used to go up to NHRA headquarters he as always would stop and say hello if he saw me there. a few years ago I figured with your dad getting up there n age he would not remember me but every year at least once some times twice a year I would ask him to pose for picture with me and every time I would say something like I know you do not remember me but he would say no I know who you are,he would say my name an as I see your by line by the photographs you have taken at NHRA drag races over the years and you do a great job keep up the great work. Again it was honor getting to hear such kind words coming from your dad and I will remember him in my heart forever!
James Drew drag racing photographer   For More Pictures Click HERE

My name is Cheryl Coons. Yes, my father is Bud Coons one of NHRA’s founding father, You should also know, that my step-father is Chuck Griffith, the man that raised me and is best known as having been Pomona’s Drag Strip manager for 30 odd years and an outstanding AA Fuel Drag racer in his own right. That’s my background and what I consider gives me the right to pen this heartfelt tribute to MY WALLY, the Wally I remember when my father was on the road setting up NHRA sanctioned drag strips.
When I was a small child, Wally Parks was a sweet faced man who used to tickle me, tease me, cuddle me, hold me, give me forbidden candy, and throw me up in the air till I screamed like a sweet old grandpa. My memories of Uncle Wally are grounded in that time period and from what I can see, best left there, as this big business of drag racing now, I know nothing about nor do I care to.
My step-father and the man that raised me on the drag strip literally, put the gravel in my gut and the burned rubber on my face, was Chuck Griffith, best remembered as the man who had the Starlite series of AA Fuel dragsters and Pomona’s Drag Strip manager every Sun for most of his life juggling these two conflicting all consuming tasks every single weekend. We were that rag tag bunch of drag racers that had no money for extra blowers, tires, didn’t even know from extra engines, just trying to squeak by and qualify for the next round so we would have enough money to buy dinner for our volunteer crew. But while Wally relied on his crew to build the strips, he counted on us to build the actual sport called drag racing. You can’t have a drag strip with out drag racers willing to give their all and fans willing to come and watch us do it. Week by week we struggled, not just us, but a whole lot of just regular Joes, way before corporate sponsors, when getting donated a set of tires to run was a really big deal.
I had a bunch of “uncles” in our same situation, broke, struggling to keep our sport alive and keep the fans entertained, Jim Dunn, Connie Kalitta, Jeep Hampshire, Stormin Norm, Dennis Holding and his brilliant engine man Jim Fox, and so many others that I have left out, whose names my memory fails to recollect and am sorry for not mentioning. I am talking about the guys that came way before the Don Prudomme’s, the Roland Leong’s, what we considered the big boys with money, Keith Black engines and corporate sponsors.
Our champion back at NHRA headquarters, the man that was always on the side of the real drag racers and the fans, was Wally. He loved drag racing, he loved us and we loved him, because he understood where we came from and where we were desperately trying to get to with every single race down the track.
I hope you will forgive me for this highly emotional response. You see, my Wally was the man that loved all of us poor just barely making it drag racers, he identified with us and with the fans that loved us. When we raced you could hear the cheering from the stands. It made your heart sing, us kids mixed fuel, I packed the parachute, said 3 Hail Mary’s and prayed it would come open every run. The Wally I remember threw me up in the air when I was a baby and patted me on the back when I was a teenager and in tears because we didn’t make the cut. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then, but time stopped for me and Wally right then when I left and went away to college.
My Wally was really Drag Strip royalty to me and a lot of other young and old people like me. He, my dad Bud and a lot of others went around the country side and built the drag strips that made it possible for all of us poor old strictly down-home, on your own, no sponsors to speak of AA Fuel dragsters, willys, modifieds, stock cars and everything in between off the street to build the sport of drag racing into what it is today.
That is how I and a whole generation of people before and just after me remember you, my precious WALLY PARKS. Your kind, funny gentle way of making even the lowly of us all seem special, especially a little girl whose Daddy wasn’t there, and who knew and cared enough to throw me up and catch me at just the right minute. That is the way I will always remember you.
Cheryl A. Coons


Wally Parks was the right man in the right moment in the right place. R.I.P.
Franco Canina - 190, Corso Inglesi - I-18038 Sanremo - Italy

Please allow me to extend my total sympathy to Richard and David. Wally, who I worked closely with during the 1950-1955 years of Pete's Trend Publishing, located on Hollywood Boulevard, was a most delightful and dedicated person. And it was Barbara who, prior to their marriage, pointed me to an open position at Trend when I needed employment on
return from Central America. Very special people who leave much to cherish with those of us who remain.
 Bill Carroll, Raton, New Mexico


In tribute to Mr. Wally Parks:
Guided by Mr. Wally Parks' example I am escorting the first bus load of students ever to SCTA's World Finals on Friday, October 5, 2007. I have reason to believe that Bonneville is his favorite place.

Click Here for more

Dear Richard & David,
So sorry to hear of the passing of your "LEGENDARY" Father Mr Wally Parks. Even way down here in Auckland New Zealand....the things that your Dad started and influenced throughout his lifetime dedicated to the recognition , promotion and acceptance of Drag Racing as a legitimate "Sport of Champions" has had a lasting effect on the way people look at the sport in New Zealand. I personally have been to the Museum in L.A.....absolutely fantastic.
Please know that we share your grief in the passing of a great man.
Keep up the great legacy guys
Yours very sincerely
Phil ( Jesse ) James

 I think it is great what you at Hotrod Hotline are doing for the Parks family . He was and still is a great man with all the hard work he did for ALL of us into drag racing . He will definately be missed by many . Again thank you at Hotrod Hotline for your recognition of this man and his accomplishments .
                     Mike Williamson

I will never forget my husband and I were at a convention at California in our early years as track operators. At the breaks I would sneak a picture of Mr. Parks. He saw me doing it and asked me to come over and take a picture with him. I have it proudly displayed on my wall. We are still running a track in Louisiana,our grandson will take over later,as we get older. God bless you and your family. He was a great man.
Molly Hall
Red River Raceway

 I first met Wally Parks at El Mirage dry lake at the speed trials in about 1949 or there about, we became friends over the years we be came close friends, I have so many found memories of Wally they would fill a book and I know we do not have the space at this time, Wally was a true champion in every way, he was a leader and a pioneer and respected by every one that came in contact with him, I remember back in the early seventies at Christmas time at my shop we would have one whale of a party and I think every drag racer there was would come, this was about one year that the NHRA and IHRA were fighting for supremacy and Wally wanted to put to bed that there was a problem between the two sanctioning bodies, so the night of our Christmas party the side door of the shop was open and up drives this big limo and stops, first Steve Gibbs gets out then Wally Parks and then to every bodies surprise out steps Jim Tice the president of IHRA , we had about 80 racers at our party you could hear a pin drop for about 2 minutes and then it sounded like a bunch of bumble bees,that is just one of the wonderful experience I had with Wally Parks and there were many he was a great friend and mentor he will be greatly missed, but his legacy will go on, every time I go to the Drag Races,or the museum or just think of hot roding I will be thinking of Wally Parks, I am sure he and Barbara are together know for eternity, watching over us to make sure we keep every thing between the white lines and off the rev limiter, rest in peace good friend.
                       My Sincere Condolences to the Family
                                    Ed Pink  

Click Here for Memories page 2

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