The Most Colorful Drag Racer,NHRA #49 Top Driver Richard Tharp
Not many Top Fuel Drag Racers have been friends with and partied with Willie Nelson, but three-time world champion in both the NHRA and IHRA Top Fuel Richard Tharp can say that he did.
He was considered a rock star of the drag racing era of the 70’s and was one of the most colorful drag racers of that time.
He was also regarded as on of the finest pure drag racing drivers around and would race anything on the track and try anything off the track.
Although the seasons consisted of only 8 races, sometimes 9, he compiled a head-to-head record of 82-46 against top racers of the time.
His rivalry with Shirley Muldowney was legendary and generated vigorous competition between them for years.
He starred in the 1973 drag racing movie: Wheels of Fire as himself, along with Shirley Muldowney, Don Garlits, Billy Meyer and Don Prudhomme, all playing themselves.
His mantra was “A Star I Are, A Saint I Aint”.
For his racing accomplishment’s he is named the #49 driver by the NHRA’s panel of drag racing experts, including print and television journalists and longtime historians of the sport.