Wallace Gordon ("Wally") Parks (January 23, 1913 – September 28, 2007) was instrumental in establishing drag racing as a legitimate amateur and professional motorsport. He was the Founder, President, and the Chairman of the Board of the National Hot Rod Association, known by the acronym NHRA.
Parks was also an accomplished automobile writer and hobbyist, and co-founder and first editor of the magazine Hot Rod in the late 1940s. He was also instrumental in the founding of Motor Trend magazine in 1948. As editor of Hot Rod, he began to promote safety in the organization of drag racing, both in the magazine and by organizing "Safety Safaris," the first of which toured the U.S.A. in 1954, teaching drag race organization and safety at tracks around the country. This was the first concerted effort in getting racers off the streets and into controlled race tracks.
Read an interview with Wally Parks, free from Rod & Custom magazine. In 1951, he founded the National Hot Rod Association, which stands today as the largest motorsports sanctioning body in the world, and became its head for several decades after leaving the magazine business. His wife, Barbara, who preceded him in death in 2006, worked for the NHRA as its Chief Secretary in its formative years.
Parks played a part in promoting drag racing outside of the U.S.A., organising tours to England in 1964 and 1965, and to Australia in 1966.
Prior to his death, he was Chairman of the Board of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California.
Winners of National Hot Rod Association national events are awarded a trophy statue nicknamed "The Wally." The trophy is a bronze statue of Parks, standing next to a racing tire.