Canadian drag racing lost one of it’s most famous and respected entities on Friday November 28th when Dale Armstrong passed…
Legendary NHRA crew chief and mechanical wizard Dale Armstrong died Nov. 27 from complications of sarcoidosis at his home in Temecula, Calif. He was 73.
As a driver, Armstrong won 12 NHRA national events – including three victories at the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals – with a series of alcohol-burning dragsters, funny cars and altereds during the 1970s, but the 1975 Pro Comp national champion and former nitro Funny Car national record holder is perhaps best known for his many mechanical and technological breakthroughs while serving as crew chief for Kenny Bernstein.
Armstrong has been widely credited as the first Funny Car crew chief to use wind-tunnel testing and data recorders. He also pioneered the development of the lockup-style clutch, dual-source fuel-delivery system and dynamometer testing for nitromethane-burning racing engines.
As crew chief for Bernstein, Armstrong was the architect behind four NHRA Funny Car world championships (1985-’88) and provided the tune-up for drag racing’s first 300-mph run in 1992. Four years later Armstrong made history again by leading Bernstein to the 1996 Top Fuel world championship, giving Bernstein the distinction of being the first driver to win NHRA series crowns in Top Fuel and Funny Car.
Of his many accomplishments in NHRA drag racing, Armstrong once said that the speed-barrier-breaking effort in Top Fuel would always be his most cherished.
“Being the crew chief on the first car to run 300 means more to me than any national event win or any championship,” Armstrong said at the time. “There isn’t any question at all. People will forget what years we won the championship, but they’ll never forget when the first 300 was run and who did it.”
Following his record-breaking run with Bernstein, Armstrong continued his successful career, tuning Don “The Snake” Prudhomme’s Top Fuel dragster, and later serving as chief tuner for Jerry Toliver’s Funny Car. He recently worked as a tuning consultant, most notably for John Force Racing.
Armstrong, a native of Alberta, Canada, was inducted into the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1995, the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2010. In 2001, he was named No. 10 on the list of NHRA’s top 50 drivers during the sanctioning body’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Armstrong is survived by his wife, Susan Arnold; daughter, Tracy Walsh; son, Brad Armstrong; sister, Phyllis Fabian; and five grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
Posted by NHRA Communications