When it comes to drag racing, the 1960s was the heyday, but the 1950s is where it all began. However, we don’t often see footage of 1950s exploits other than what we find in vintage magazines. Ingenuity in Action, a film produced by Davis Productions, shows us the efforts taken for competitive drag racing in the early days.

This film, presented by Hot Rod, tells the story of the Masters Dragmaster racing team as they prepare for the 1959 NHRA Nationals at Detroit Dragway and the lengths they go, from California to the eastern side of the Midwest, to take a stab at winning prizemoney and a trophy.

This was just after the dawn of the “Horsepower Race,” the unofficial escalation of horsepower among all brands that began in 1955. That was the year Chevrolet and Plymouth finally received V8s after straight-sixes had been the de facto engine in their price class (Ford being the anomaly since 1932). Being an enthusiast would never be the same again because now factories of all stripes were building bombs that could be bought off the showroom.

Of course, not all race cars were late-model production cars, as this video attests – we get the full view of the glory days of the evolution of drag racing, plus luminaries like NHRA’s Wally Parks, GM’s Ed Cole, publisher Robert Petersen, Chrysler’s Tex Colbert. And be sure to pay attention to the soundtrack, which has plenty of beautiful 1950s kitsch.

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