Popular racer has not won an NHRA event since 1973, had not reached final round since 1998 Pat Dakin fell to Steve Torrence in the final round of the NHRA Top Fuel event at Norwalk, Ohio. For the first six races this NHRA season, the Top Fuel class had six different winners.
As for the past six, Texan Steve Torrence has won all but the one at Bristol, Tennessee, which Mike Salinas grabbed from him two weeks ago by 0.0177 of a second in the final round. Torrence atoned for that by winning at Norwalk, Ohio, last Sunday, giving him victories at six of the past seven events. That matched his streak that started at the outset of the 2018 Countdown at Reading, Pennsylvania, and ended with his runner-up finish at the 2019 season debut at Pomona, California.
But maybe the most talked-about dragster driver this week was a man who hasn’t won since 1973, who hasn’t won a Top Fuel national event final in the United States, who hadn’t even been to a final round since 1998 and whose last victory came almost 10 years before Torrence was born.
He’s Pat Dakin, the 73-year-old whom Torrence defeated last Sunday in the final round upstate from his home near Dayton.
Dakin was a powerhouse in the 1970s in the midst of his 20-year partnership with Gary Rupp. Dakin was runner-up in the 1977 Top Fuel championship chase to Shirley Muldowney. He won twice in Montreal, in 1971 and 1973. But he suffered a skull fracture and shattered hands and wrists in a 1998 blow-over accident at Topeka that knocked him out and knocked him out of racing for 10 years. He underwent a dozen surgeries for those injuries.
He threw a scare on track into Torrence. But Dakin said, “I have never cared about points. Never.”
He corrected himself for a nanosecond: “Once. Once. Yeah, 1977, and we came in second to Shirley.”