(MAIN) Hector Arana Jr. has been the guy to beat in qualifying in recent races. By the time you read this, he might just have added a first win to his résumé. (RIGHT) Jr. vs. Sr. in Houston, where the younger Hector took the spoils. (BELOW) His proud father is a willing and very able teacher.
eighth-mile strip in Hardinsburg, Ky.,
about 45 miles south of his Corydon, Ind.,
home, and a few more in Bradenton, Fla.,
before the Gatornationals, Arana Jr. made
his competition debut in Gainesville,
where he was 27th of 27 riders with a
7.39sec best. Hector Sr. was No. 1 with an
incredible 6. 77, the quickest run of all time.
“If it wasn’t for my dad, I wouldn’t be
doing this,” Arana Jr. says. “I don’t ask
other racers for advice. They’re not going to
just give away everything anyway. I do it
my dad’s way. I took his style, where you sit
up straighter on the launch, instead of
laying down like most people do.”
In just his second career start, this
April in Houston, Arana Jr. got his first
round-win over, of all people, his dad. “He
spun and I hooked up,” the kid says. “It’s
not like he gave it to me. He’d never do
that, and I’d never want him to.” Since
then, Arana has advanced to the middle
rounds of eliminations more often than
not and has established himself as one of
the better qualifiers in the class.
The two most prolific
Dixon’s father, Larry Sr.,
drivers in Top Fuel
history, Larry Dixon
and Tony Schumacher, both
have fathers who, in their
day, won at the highest level.
won Top Fuel at the first
race of the ’70s, the
1970 Winternationals, and
mega-team owner Don, won
five major Funny Car titles.
Many of today’s biggest
names appear to have
inherited their driving genes
from their fathers, but three
families stand out as the only
ones with two generations of
double-digit winners in the
pro ranks: the Kalittas,
Bernsteins and Johnsons.
Kenny Bernstein has won
championships in both
Funny Car and Top Fuel and
is the only driver with at
least 30 wins in each. (No
one else is close.) Son
Brandon has 18 wins.
Legendary Connie Kalitta
scored 10 times across five
decades, and his late son
Scott collected 18 wins and
two Top Fuel championships.
But the Johnsons stand
alone. Son Kurt has 39 wins in
Pro Stock, but that’s barely
more than a third of the nearly
100 wins racked up by father
Warren (BELOW), who is the
winningest driver in Pro Stock
history and second-winningest
overall, behind only Funny Car
superstar John Force (who,
fittingly, is the father of
another multiple-event winner,
Ashley Force Hood).
So, who’s better – the
fathers or their progeny?
It’s about even, actually.
One thing’s for sure: If you
want to be a successful
pro drag racer, choose
your parents well.