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Danny's Corner

Hemi Colt: Born to Be Bad!

by Danny White (3/97)

Editor's Note: The following is the first in a series of articles and general ramblings by our very own Research Editor, Danny White. It is long overdue  --  Danny's been keeping me entertained for years now  --  I just can't keep him to myself any longer. In addition to being an absolute drag racing sponge (like I USED'TA be), Danny is one of the most knowledgeable music enthusiasts you'll ever meet. I hope to coax him to provide some great reviews of blues, R&B, rock, country, Cajun, and whatever other music tickles his fancy. In fact, he can say just about anything he darn well pleases, because this is "DANNY's CORNER."

The Pro Stock Hemi Dodge Colt had to be the wildest, most unsafe doorslammer ever to grace the Pro Stock/Match Race circuit. The Hemi Colt was outlawed by NHRA for legal Pro Stock so racers had to race in IHRA, UDRA, or NHRA A/A, B/A, or A/FX. The Colt was prone to instability, so a great many of them wrecked. However, bad luck also should be counted in the equation of a high powered engine and an even higher center of gravity. The following is a listing of the Colts from the historical Drag Racing List as seen on the Internet. I've added a few notes on the cars I know something about. Colorado racer Jim Roath had the first Colt P/S. It was outlawed by NHRA; for that reason, I don't know if Roath ever raced it seriously. Current Pro Stock driver/crew chief Terry Adams drove a Colt called the El Toro for his first Pro Stock ride on the IHRA circuit. The car ran a known best of 8.57 @ 157.50 as late as 1980. IHRA racer Clyde Curtis also had a Colt in the mid seventies, but no ET is available on him. (Note: any cars you see on DragList.com with no ET or the wrong ET, drop Bill or me a line to correct the problem).

Lynwood Craft raced his Colt for the longest of anyone on this list  --  from around 1975 to the early 1990s. He raced in the most classes also, including IHRA P/S, Street Rod, Top Sportsman, Super Pro, local Q/8, and probably a couple more I don't know about. Craft's best times were 8.50 @ 163.33.Iowa-based racer Rodger Denney raced his black Colt in match races and in NHRA B/A; his best times were 8.74 @ 155.17. Nelson Des Champs drove himself or had Kenny Hahn drive for him; their car went 8.50 @ 163.58. Ex-Funny Car racers Gary Dyer and Terry Hedrick switched to Romeo Palamides-built Colts that ran UDRA's loosely-ruled P/S class. Dyer used a 366" Hemi to run an 8.72 @ 155.87 in the Mr. Norm's car, but we do not have a best ET for Hedrick. Red Sullivan was Hedrick's partner on the Colt. After Hedrick retired, Sullivan ran the car on his own. Chuck Scherr ran an 8.92 @ 149 in 1976 and Joe Gouger drove to an 8.73 @ 154.77 in 1978 in the car also known as 'Hot Pants.'

The Nationwise Rod Shop had three Colts that raced wherever there was a big purse to win. Sadly, Don Carlton drove one to his death in 1977 during tire testing. The stretched car was able to run 8.30s in B/A. The all-black Colt driven by Bob Riffle ran 8.30 @ 168.50 on laughing gas at OCIR in 1976. Gene Dunlap's Colt ran 8.68 @ 159.54 in B/A. The other Colt from Ohio was the infamous 'Billy the Kid,' owned by Billy Stepp and driven by Bobby Yowell. This car had seven race-ready engines (!) when finished in 1974 and ran 8.42 @ 160.92. This car is most famous for its demise when a crewmember forgot to unlatch the wheelie bars and it flipped repeatedly at Bristol. Cooney Hicks in the Mopar Kid and Harold Reed in the Reed Bros. car were Alabama-based Colts and raced until 1980. Once while racing each other, Reed crashed into a power pole. This knocked out the track lights and canceled the rest of racing for the night. Both cars ran 5.50s in the eighth mile, racing in the IHRA and in match races.

Brooklyn's own Ronnie Lyle raced his Colt in A/A, B/A, IHRA P/S, and match racing. We have no ET for him or his many hired drivers. Lyle sold the car to Ronnie Sox after 'going away for a while.' Sox, without Martin, ran a best of 8.46 @ 161.29. He sold the car to Cigar & Heintz who raced one time with Joe Varde driving in A/FX. The car was stolen after Pomona. Dom Durunzi restored the car to Sox's colors and ran 8.18 @ 166.51 just last year! Mark Panos (information unknown) ran a Colt in 1982 according our files with a time of 8.15 @ 169.51. There also were NHRA-legal P/S Colts. I know of two. Donn Patrick from Omaha, NE, ran 8.69 @ 159.92 in 1981. Bill Flynn wrecked his Yankee Peddler in 1973, so I have no ET on that car. Both NHRA-legal cars had small block Mopar engines. I hope to bring more articles like this one in the coming months. I would like to thank Mopar Action magazine for the idea. Lastly, I want to thank Bill for letting me write this article. (No, Danny, thank YOU! Keep 'em coming! BP/Draglist

Danny White


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