Marvin Graham

Bio Marvin Graham

Marvin ‘Who’ Graham started racing while in high school, competing against other high schools with cars built in their auto shops. Starting with a 1950 Ford, Marvin soon moved into a ’53 Ford custom powered by a ’55 Buick engine followed next with another Ford, this time a ’58 with a 430 CI Lincoln engine. His first dragster efforts were in a 289 Ford powered chassis and a set of injectors he and his partner Leon Groom made themselves. The duo followed the injected car with a blown 392 Chrysler powered Top Gas dragster they successfully campaigned throughout Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. In a ‘dare to be different’ mode the pair built a twin 289 Ford engine powered Top Fuel dragster but have admitted it broke as often as it ran.

In the early 1970’s Marvin moved to a more conventional front motor dragster with a 392 Chrysler for power. Later he drove Bob Dumont’s front engine AA/FD followed by a new rear engine car. In 1973 Leon decided to sell Marvin his share to the team and Marvin set out on his own debuting the car at the IHRA All American event in Bristol, TN where he was runner up. Due to his commitment of running his television repair business, he was participating on a strictly part time basis and with his racing career limited to competing “locally” in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and occasionally Louisiana, he was virtually unknown when he entered the national scene in 1974. Marvin switched to a Donovan power plant in 1973 and with the help of his pal Mike Kuhl, Marvin was able to start running very strong. His first NHRA national event was in 1973 at Englishtown, NJ where he promptly qualified the car. Even though with Kuhl’s help the car was running strong, Marvin still had to be coxed into participating at the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indy that year by his friends/competitors Carl Olsen and Mike Kuhl. The two went so far as to carry the engine parts Marvin needed from California to Tulsa on their way to Indy, made sure the engine was built in time for Marvin to get to Indy and as a result of this “push” Marvin was able to notch his first ever National event win. Later that year he won the AHRA World Finals and decided to go full time racing. 1975 was a very good year for Marvin; he won the AHRA Winter Nationals in Phoenix, the NHRA Springnationals in Columbus, was runner-up at the Seattle NHRA Fallnationals and was third in the Championship driver standings.

Marvin was runner-up at the NHRA Cajun Nationals and defended his PDA title in 1976 but after making some serious engine changes, he ran into a dry spell. Marvin’s luck turned around in 1980 and he set a new record ET, 5.68 seconds, while on his way to winning the Brainerd Minnesota Champion event, the Grand Nationals Champion event, becoming the Division 6 Top Fuel Champion and placing forth in the NHRA driver point’s race. 1981 was also a very good year for Marvin during which he won the Grand Nationals Champion event, the IHRA Pro AM Nationals, the IHRA season finals race, the Bowling Green points race and the Medford Oregon points race, was runner-up at the NHRA Pomona Winternationals and finished fourth in the NHRA driver points standings.