Douglas. C. Kruse. An extract from an article written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor on 28th July 2017 entitled "A Farewell to Friends". Published here with the kind permission of Phil Burgess. Link to the original article.


Most fans know Kruse's fame from one of two ways - either as the promoter of the monster PDA Top Fuel races of the '60s and '70s or as an innovative fabricator. My former colleague, John Jodauga, was kind enough to supply me with this great pocket bio on the man, who died on June 19 at the age of 81.


Kruse, a California Hot Rod Reunion Honoree, was a renowned racing promotor, aluminum fabricator, and a major talent in many other fields. Kruse was a highly educated individual who had worked on major projects in the automotive, aviation, aerospace, computer, marketing and military industries along with many other technology-related fields. But Kruse will be best remembered for his pioneering role in establishing the Professional Drag Racing Association, which he had operated as both president and race director. The first PDA race, which was held at Lions Drag Strip in 1967, attracted a total of 94 Top Fuelers which showed up to compete in the mammoth 64-car field, with respectively large contingents of cars for the Top Gas and Jr. Fuel programs.


Kruse first became involved in hot rodding by racing a '39 Ford two-door sedan while studying engineering at the University of Maryland. He moved to Southern California in 1960 and learned how to form aluminum while working on Robert "Jocko" Johnson's famed streamlined Top Fueler. This led to the establishment of his own fabrication shop, where he worked on everything from race cars to motor coach grilles and mail handling systems. He later began design and construction work for Reno Air Race planes such as the Red Baron and Tsunami. This led to his introduction to engineers from Lockheed's famous Skunk Works program, from whom he learned a great deal about aerodynamics and streamlining.


During this time, Kruse continued his education with studies at UCLA in business management, and he became an active member of the Society of Automotive Engineers, serving on the group's national board of directors.


Kruse's pursuit of higher education never stopped as he earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Maryland as the oldest graduate of the class of 2013. He received his CHRR honors in 2015, and at the time of his passing he was nearing the completion of an aerodynamically advanced V-8 diesel-powered streamliner of his own design with which he had intended to break the long-standing mark of 350.092 that had been set in 2006.