HomeCar CultureClassic Video: Ingenuity in Action

Classic Video: Ingenuity in Action

Drag racing history captured on film


When it comes to drag racing, the 1960s was the heyday, but the 1950s is where it all began. However, we don’t often see footage of 1950s exploits other than what we find in vintage magazines. Ingenuity in Action, a film produced by Davis Productions, shows us the efforts taken for competitive drag racing in the early days.

This film, presented by Hot Rod, tells the story of the Masters Dragmaster racing team as they prepare for the 1959 NHRA Nationals at Detroit Dragway and the lengths they go, from California to the eastern side of the Midwest, to take a stab at winning prizemoney and a trophy.

This was just after the dawn of the “Horsepower Race,” the unofficial escalation of horsepower among all brands that began in 1955. That was the year Chevrolet and Plymouth finally received V8s after straight-sixes had been the de facto engine in their price class (Ford being the anomaly since 1932). Being an enthusiast would never be the same again because now factories of all stripes were building bombs that could be bought off the showroom.

Of course, not all race cars were late-model production cars, as this video attests – we get the full view of the glory days of the evolution of drag racing, plus luminaries like NHRA’s Wally Parks, GM’s Ed Cole, publisher Robert Petersen, Chrysler’s Tex Colbert. And be sure to pay attention to the soundtrack, which has plenty of beautiful 1950s kitsch.

Diego Rosenberg
Diego Rosenberg
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle. But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in metropolitan Phoenix.


  1. Diego, i recently purchased a 1969 corvette Stingray from a couple that was moving to Florida for retirement. According to them they were only the 2nd owners and had owned the car for 13 years. They were told it is 100 percent factory original including the the pain and interior. It has a 350 hp 350 with auto transmission. It drives great and oenlybhas 44238 miles. Every thing seems to work including the air conditioning and electric windows. Would you be able to tell me where to start to get it documented. It is in very good condition and I intend for now to keep it as original as possible. I can send pictures if you want. Thank you, Chris Soloy.

  2. Great to see this historical event. Thankyou for sharing it. Born in 1953 I began to get interested in cars and drag racing especially in the early 60s. Things aren’t what they used to be. In some ways they’re better but in many ways not so much. Thanks again.


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