For most people, it’s not the vehicles they drive that make them a notable part of automotive history. Rather, it’s what they accomplish. But for Dan Fletcher, those two things go hand-in-hand, as he is the proud owner and pilot of the “Winningest car in NHRA history.” So, how could we not take a look at this famous racer and the car that started it all? Check out Dan’s journey to stardom below in this week’s “The Greats of Chevrolet Before They Were Famous.”
Dan was just a youngin’ when he was introduced to the automotive world. As the story goes, the 1969 Camaro Z28 that has been such a major part of his racing career was bought new off the lot of Taylor Chevrolet in Rochester, New York, in the late ’60s, by his father Tom. The car then went straight to the track, where the senior Fletcher raced it in the NHRA Modified class through the mid 1970s, until it was put to into semi-retirement. It wasn’t until Dan turned 16 years old, that he truly got the racing bug.
While the Camaro was parked for some time as Dan hit his teenage years, the car’s influence still remained, prompting him to get a ’69 Camaro of his own at the age 16. He needed something to drive to and from school, so why not a Camaro? Since Dan was gaining an interest in racing, and a daily driver is much different than a bonafide race car, Tom’s Camaro was resurrected, and Dan was taught how to pilot and tune a race car.
By 1991, Dan was getting the hang of racing, and was ready to move up the ranks. This prompted an overhaul of the Camaro, turning it into a true Super Stock race car. With the newly refreshed car, Dan and his father entered their first Super Stock race in Montreal Quebec, with Dan behind the wheel. Though the car was fresh and dan was fresh to the big leagues, he walked away with a second-place finish.
Dan and his father continued racing together through the early ’90s, until Tom tragically passed away in April 1993. Although Dan had little experience working on the Camaro by himself, he vowed to continue with the racing hobby his father had introduced him to so many years before.
In 1994, Fletcher made good on that promise, entering into the NHRA Springnationals in Columbus, Ohio. Paired against three-time NHRA Nationals Champion Greg Stanfield in the final round, Dan took the win when Stanfield red-lit. This was Dan’s his national event win, and the streak didn’t end there.
Dan took his winnings, and put them toward a long road trip for him and his family (two young sons and his wife), and he went on to compete in the Western Swing – a trek through the West with three race stops in Denver, Colorado, Sonoma, California, and Seattle, Washington. In a virtually unheard of feat in drag racing, Dan won all three events.
From there, Dan’s racing career exploded. In 1997, he quit his day job, and began racing full time. Dan is now one of the winningest competitors in NHRA history, driving his dad’s original 1969 Camaro, which happens to be the winningest car in NHRA history. With more than 85 national event titles to his name, and three world championships under his belt, Dan Fletcher is undoubtedly one of Chevrolet’s great contributors!