Vern Moats, one of the longest-tenured Top Alcohol Funny Car driver before his retirement in 2012, died Jan. 15. He was 77.
Moats began racing in the early 1960s, and had been in a Top Alcohol Funny Car since 1972 before the class or the one that preceded it, Pro Comp, even existed. He has accumulated a remarkable tally of 15 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Division 5 championships, 16 top 10 finishes, 16 national event wins from 1983 to 2000, 14 JEGS Allstars special event appearances, and 56 LODRS event wins in three different classes (Comp, Pro Comp, and Top Alcohol Funny Car).
Moats began racing a blown gas Funny Car in Comp in 1972 and ran on alcohol the following season before the creation of the Pro Comp class, which featured Top Alcohol Dragsters, Top Alcohol Funny Cars, and altereds until TAD and TAFC became classes in 1981. Moats won the Division 5 championship in the first season of Pro Comp in 1974 and became a dominant fixture in the West Central Division.
Moats, whose last national event victory came in Denver in 2000, enjoyed his finest season in 1983 when he won four national events, including the U.S. Nationals.
Between 1974 and 1999, Moats won an unprecedented 15 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series championships. That record stood until Frank Manzo equaled it in recent years. His 56 career LODRS victories rank him fourth of all time among drivers in all classes behind only Manzo, Bob Newberry, and Jay Payne.