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LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Hot Rod's founding father, Wally Parks, is being celebrated for a lifetime of innovation and dedication to the culture embraced by generations of shade-tree mechanics.

Parks, founder of the National Hot Rod Association, was selected as the first recipient of the Robert E. Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award.

``Wally not only organized the National Hot Rod Association but has been its driving force, moving the NHRA from its fledgling days to its current stature as the world's largest motor sports body,'' Los Angeles publisher Robert Petersen, creator of Hot Rod magazine, said last week from Indianapolis, where he and Parks were attending a trade show.

Parks, 89, honored for transforming what many considered an outlaw sport into a multimillion-dollar industry, helped organize the Southern California Timing Association in 1947. He formed the NHRA in 1951.

The bronze award, designed by automotive artist Steve Possum, will be permanently displayed at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The award was given to Parks last week.

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On the Net:

Petersen Automotive Museum Web site: http://www.petersen.org/