The 1988 NHRA Gatornationals event was a barn burner. We’re talking about all the big names, all the big action, underdog stories, and packed stands. Back in the era of the ’88 season, the NHRA had a 16 race tour and this was the second one of the season. Here in 2018 there’s a 24 race tour and the Gators are the third stop on the tour. There are nearly 600 cars on the sheet this weekend in classes ranging from stock eliminator to top fuel harley, pro mod, pro stock, and all the rest. This is a healthy race that always draws big, big crowds. The weekend is shaping up to be a big one and that’s in no small part to a class they did not have in 1988, Factory Stock Showdown. We’ll get to that later in the week.
Anyway, in this video you’ll watch the Diamond P sports broadcast of the 1988 race and it’s filled with action that’ll have you smiling. From Jim Head, Frank Bradley, Tom Hoover, Don Prudhomme, and all the rest, the drivers were legendary and the action was even better. The call comes from Don Garlits, Steve Evans, and Paul Page. Unlike todays world where there are multiple days of television, this event was condensed into one hour long broadcast. The eliminations are picked up on in the second round and followed from there.
Being just the second race of the season, the period favorites were largely still in experiment mode which made for excitement in the form of updates and unexpected runs. The speed record in top fuel was batted around by a couple drivers just like the ET record in funny car was as well.
Bobby Baldwin’s story was one of the best of the event. A rookie driver who had gone through Frank Hawley’s school, Baldwin lived out a dream day of eliminations with his crew chief Lance Larsen. You’ll see how far he goes here!
The 2019 Gatornationals will be amazing. The 1988 race was pretty darned sporty as well!
Press play below to see the 1988 NHRA Gatornationals – What a race!