C.J. Hart

1981 Inductee

Inductee Photo


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Biography

Cloyce always maintained a low profile, but anyone who ever raced at the popular Lions Drag Strip in Long Beach, California, knew “Pappy” Hart as the track manager. He’d remained active in drag racing for many years after retiring from Lions, serving as one of the team members on the NHRA Safety Safari—a tribute to his spirited stamina. You could say he invented drag racing as it is today. He organized the first commercial drag race on June 19, 1950, on a runway at the Orange County Airport in California. His pioneering efforts at the Santa Ana Drags determined many of drag racing’s cornerstones, from the track’s quarter-mile length (he borrowed the distance from horse racing) to dividing those early dragsters into classes based on the car’s axle ratio, engine displacement and whether it was a stocker or modified. In 1965, he succeeded Mickey Thompson as manager of the Lions Drag Strip, where he continued his drag-racing innovations. It was at Lions that he established the Junior Fuel class and also developed bracket and grudge racing. He was inducted in to the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.