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IHRA Hall of Famer Herbert Makes Huge Impact On and Off the Track

Thursday, 12 August 2021

Doug Herbert’s record of four IHRA Top Fuel world championships, 20 race wins and 47 final-round appearances were enough to warrant serious consideration for the inaugural International Hot Rod Association Hall of Fame class.

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Consider the enormous impact that he’s made both on and off the track, it becomes clear that Herbert is both a Hall of Fame drag racer and person.

The California native and longtime North Carolina resident had his first real taste of success in the early 1990s. He won his first career race at Bristol Dragway in 1992, setting off a streak of six straight wins at Thunder Valley through 1997.

“That was awesome. We went to Bristol every year and couldn’t do anything wrong,” he recalled. “Winning the Top Fuel race in 1992, being the first to make a four-second run, the first to go over 300 mph, getting to race Shirley Muldowney, Gene Show, Eddie Hill, all those and others were great drivers that I got to compete against.

“Anybody asks me what my favorite track is and it definitely was Bristol. How could it not be?”

Herbert, the son of drag racing pioneer Chet Herbert, beat Kim LaHaie for that first victory. It came months after he made it to the final round at Darlington where he lost to Gene Snow. Once he broke through with the Bristol win, Herbert went on to claim the 1992 season championship. He followed it up with three consecutive IHRA Top Fuel titles from 1994-96.

Herbert Bristol

With an appreciation of the history of the sport, Herbert realized how special it was to have legendary drivers lined up beside him. He recalled a couple of occasions when he faced off with Muldowney and another time with former IHRA President Mike Dunn.

“Having Shirley there was neat. She was such a tough competitor with a top-notch team with crew chief Rahn Tolber,” Herbert said. “IHRA was such a neat family deal. There are so many great memories that are fun. I remember racing Mike Dunn at Norwalk. He was a great competitor and a really neat guy.”

Herbert, nicknamed “Dougzilla” by fellow IHRA Hall of Famer and rival Clay Millican, competed in his final IHRA race in 1999. He defeated Jim Bailey in a car that Herbert owned in the IHRA Finals at Rockingham. He added to his legacy as a 10-time, national-event winner in NHRA competition.

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Over the last few years, Herbert has been working with NASCAR Hall of Fame crew chief Ray Evernham in developing a land speed record car with Dodge Viper engines. There are plans in place to attempt to break the current record of 463.038 mph for a piston-powered vehicle at the famed Bonneville Salt Flats.

Herbert’s greatest contributions, however, have come off the race track after losing his sons in a highway crash.

After the accident, he established B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everybody Safe), a teen safe-driving program. It goes beyond standard driver’s education with a curriculum that addresses many situations responsible for accidents involving teenagers.

The program, which has been featured in PEOPLE magazine and on national television, has trained more than 45,000 teens from 46 different states and five countries.

There are testimonials from coast to coast of how the training has saved lives. Research from the University of North Carolina shows that teens who have taken the course are 64 percent less likely to get into an auto accident.

He continues to make a major impact in the drag racing world through Doug Herbert Performance Parts, which supplies cams, lifters, and other parts to make cars go fast. If going fast on the ground isn’t enough, Herbert has also embarked on another passion as a personal pilot.

With a lifetime of achievement on and off the track, the International Hot Rod Association welcomes Doug Herbert into the inaugural IHRA Hall of Fame class.

Last modified on Thursday, 12 August 2021

 

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