Top Fuel Pilot, Nostalgia Pioneer Dan Horan Sr. Passes Away

Top Fuel Pilot, Nostalgia Pioneer Dan Horan Sr. Passes Away


(Photos by Tim Marshall, Keith Burgan, John Ewald and Jeff Burghardt – Words by Darr Hawthorne)  Dan Horan Sr. has passed away, he was a cool guy who was a diehard dragster racer – in a front-motored dragster, of course.



“Digger Dan” as he was known, Curly to his friends, was instrumental in the early movement of nostalgia drag racing, a strong participant in the GoodGuys VRA, then into the NHRA Heritage series driving a Don Long chassied dragster.

He lived in Big Bear City, California, where he died over the past weekend. Curly truly loved the sport of drag racing and as longtime drag racing photographer Tim Marshall said, “Horan was one of the ‘low buck’ drag racers who, somehow, showed up with a competitive dragster and loved every minute of it.”


Horan Sr. started drag racing in the early 70‘s and drove his top fueler at tracks like the legendary Lions Drag Strip and here in this 1973 photo at Tulsa, competing for nearly fifty years.



When he was knocked out in a freak 2009 March Meet crash with rookie driver Mike Chrisman, he retired his driving gloves and goggles.  Horan continued racing with fabricator Keith “Rooman” Burgan, who helped rebuild his dragster for competition and had his son Dan Jr in the seat.

He’d put son Dan Jr. into a front-motored dragster in 1986, later Jr. migrated into the fledgeling nitro funny car class and, along with a handful of other fiberglass flopper pioneers, helped to build the current nitro funny car movement.



Son Dan (above) won the 2014 Heritage Series Funny Car Championship and still drove his dad’s front motored dragster at the 25th California Hot Rod Reunion last month. His father was his son’s greatest fan. Dan Jr. said of his father, “The drag racing community was my father’s family.”



A celebration of Dan Horan’s life is planned for the 2017 Good Vibrations March Meet.


  • Share This
  • Pinterest
  • 0

3 thoughts on “Top Fuel Pilot, Nostalgia Pioneer Dan Horan Sr. Passes Away

  1. Chaun Benfield

    Should have been nicknamed “Dan, the Man” Horan Sr. for sure. If I could be half as cool and innovative as Our Dad, Don Garlits, Dan Sr. and really so many other greats that can, then I have a good future. Much heartfelt condolences to Horan’s Family and Friends, he will truly be missed but not forgotten.

  2. J.R.

    Sorry to hear we lost another pioneer of the sport. I worked and the now defunct LACR as a tech official. I used to watch him do maintenance on his car in the trailer at the track where he stored it. A nicer man you never met and a friend to everyone he met except when you lined up in the other lane. RIP my brother you are now racing with all those who have gone before you.

  3. G T

    Nice article and remembrance for a good guy. the header flames are extinguished, but his memory will go one.

Comments are closed.




Get The Bangshift Newsletter