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Danny's Corner

Funny Car Frenzy!

by Danny White (6/97)

I thought and thought for a month about what to write and finally it came to me: This is the DragList.com web site -- how about an article about top 10 ten funny car lists? The categories are the best, worst, prettiest, and the strangest. This is strictly my own tastes and thoughts so if you feel differently send me an email with your choices. I will count the tallies and post the final reader choices. The top ten best Funny Cars in my opinion are the following:

  1. Don Prudhomme 1975 "Army" Monza - Don won almost every race he entered in this car, ran the first five, and won the first cumulative NHRA Winston points series that year. Don kept winning on to 1978 in the Monzas and Arrows.
  2. Pat Minick 1969 "Chi-Town Hustler" Charger - Pat ran the first unofficial six, made the burnout a show, kicked butt, and didn't need NHRA to make a living or a legend
  3. Jim Liberman 1969 "Jungle Jim" Nova - The most popular driver of all time, some say. In 1969, he had two F/C teams; Clare Sanders drove the other one to a Winternationals victory. He tried to race 100 dates a year. Sometimes he didn't make it there, but when he did show, on time, with "Jungle Pam," watch out! Jungle was always a factor wherever he went.
  4. Raymond Beadle 1975 "Blue Max" Mustang II - Beat Don Prudhomme at Indy. Raymond brought racing into the modern era of corporate involvement and professionalism. Think back to 1975 F/C's -- two names stand out -- "Army" and the "Blue Max."
  5. John Force 1996 "Castrol GTX" Firebird - You can count one hand and have fingers left over how many races in which he didn't make the final. When he didn't, his teammate Tony Pedregon was usually there.
  6. Gary Dyer 1965 "Mr. Norm's" Polara - He almost took the funny out funny car when his 8.63 was the shot heard around the world in 1965.
  7. Gene Snow 1970 "Rambunctious" Challenger - This car wasn't the quickest, but it was the fastest and the most consistent. He made the automatic transmission obsolete almost single-handedly.
  8. Don Nicholson 1966 "Eliminator I" Comet - The Logghe-built Comets dominated in 1966 and Dyno Don's was the best of the bunch. This car was the basis of the modern F/C to come.
  9. Pat Foster 1972-3 "Barry Setzer" Vega - This car was the most feared F/C of it time because it was going to run low E.T. or catch on fire. This is why Foster racked up very few wins.
  10. Kenny Bernstein 1985-6 "Budweiser King" Tempo - This, in my opinion, was the best of Kenny's cars because he was so far ahead of his competition in technology. Almost everyone was trying to be like Kenny, Dale, and the gang. Car was the first in the 5.50s and 5.40s.

My top 5 "least best" F/C's of all time:

  1. Don Sosenka "Mr. Magoo" Arrow - The paint was cracked, the car was duct taped, and it had vinyl prismatic lettering. Don ran a Donovan and had VW van as a tow car.
  2. Dave Benjamin "Nasty" series - Dave is a smart guy but his history of wheelstands, wrecks, fires, leaks, and bad luck precedes him.
  3. John Force "Night Stalker" Mustang - Rear engine in sideways with chain drive. Irwindale, I believe, asked him not to come back with that car.
  4. Tulsa Oiler - The Moritz and Osborn car, for the time it ran, was a scary car to watch and even scarier to drive ('til Jim White came along.)
  5. Larry Gould 1973 SOHC Mustang - The car was breakage prone and very inconsistent. I remember seeing this car break when I was just six years old.

Top ten best appearing F/Cs of all time:

  1. "St Moritz " '85 Daytona
  2. "Shady Glenn" '76 Dart and 86 Regal
  3. "Vicious Vette" '59 Corvette
  4. "Stardust" '72 Cudas
  5. "Blue Max " '76 Mustang II
  6. "Showtime" '78 Corvette
  7. "Pisano" '88 Cutlass
  8. "Boston Shaker" '80 Corvette
  9. "Spirit" '83 Corvette
  10. "Carl Ruth/Crown Entertainment" '56 Crown Victoria

Strangest Top Ten F/Cs of all Time

  1. "George's Corvette Shop" '63 Corvette
  2. "Sneaky Snake" '66 Mustang
  3. "Night Stalker" '72 Mustang
  4. "Mr. Unswitchable" '66 GTO
  5. "Secret Weapon" Jeep
  6. "American Bandstand" '69 Corvette
  7. "Durachrome" '69 VW
  8. "California Stud" '72 Vega Panel
  9. "Gary Gabelich" '72 Vega Panel
  10. "Jim Head" '87 Firenza (if you would call it that)

E-mail me your top lists of F/Cs or tell me what you think about mine. 'Til next time...Danny ddgw@valornet.com

A Response!

Reader David Hapgood answered Danny's challenge and came up with the following lists. Here's David: 

Message for Danny: I have an alternate list of worst funny cars of all time, overfunded and underperforming funny cars, not the little guys you picked on! I mean, really. Larry Gould never went that fast in his Mustang, but he was the last guy to run a Ford SOHC! A noble effort, no? And does Don Sosenka really get points off for having a VW tow van, junk engine, and bad paint? I've seen Dave Benjamin run a few times and he always put on a good show. Not always the fastest, but almost always exciting! Here's my list of the all time dogs, cars that were paid to be so much better than they were:

Worst Funny Cars of All Time: Some heavily financed standouts that should have been so much better than they were.

1 - Randy Anderson - PARTS AMERICA 1998 Firebird - Almost painful to watch them spend so much money.

2 - Kenny Bernstein - BUDWEISER KING 1982 Ford EXP - Did so poorly that Budweiser had to pay independent racer Jim Wemett to repaint his funny car in the Budweiser colors to compete in the Big Bud Shootout (Bernstein didn't make the cut. Oh, yeah, he also rolled this car early on).

3 - Raymond Beadle - KODIAK BLUE MAX 1989(?) Firebird - The lamest (and the last) Blue Max.

4 - Don Prudhomme - Mid eighties Firebird - One of them stood out as a bona fide embarrassment.

5 - Whit Bazemore - SMOKIN' JOES 1986 Mustang - Under Whit's command the car went winless and the car was a "smoker" until pro Dale Pulde took over and almost immediately scored a win.
                    
THE UGLIEST FUNNY CARS OF ALL TIME
 

1 - John Force - 1984 Coca Cola Olds Firenza. Red and white. Bad layout. Boring sponsors. Horrible body style. The worst.

2 - Billy Meyer - 1981 "HAWAIIAN TROPIC" Citation. Early example of the more conservative paint designs of the 1980's. Ugly shades of green on white on the ever-homely Citation shell. Yet Meyer was to field an ongoing procession of the blandest-looking funny cars to ever run down a dragstrip. The Citation was at least distinctive in its bad looks.

3 - Kenny Bernstein - 1985 Tempo. The ugliest (yes, even uglier than the "Batmobile" Reatta) in the long line of generic BUD KING paint jobs, laid out on the stretched-nose tempo shell. Gawky like a teenager.

4 - Tom McEwen - COORS Corvette 1980. I know this silver and black car was supposed to be a classic but it was possibly the most boring paint job of all time.

5- Ed McCulloch - MILLER HIGH LIFE 1988 Olds Cutlass. The gold color wasn't far off the mark but the overall layout and graphics made this car about as visually exciting as a can of Miller Beer. Compare to the "Ace's" earlier examples: the various "rrRevellution" cars, or even the brown SUPER SHOPS or 1978's austere (and none too pretty) AMERICAN HOME SHIELD Arrow and you'll see what I mean.

TEN OF THE PRETTIEST (and mainly forgotten) FUNNY CARS OF ALL TIME

1- Robbie Williams - ASSASSIN 1979 Arrow. A true classic paint job that worked.

2 - Tim Kushi - YANKEE SIZZLER 1975 Monza (blue version).
                  
3 - Gordon Mineo - Flash GORDON 1974 Vega. One of the prettiest cars ever.

4 - Paul Smith - FIREBALL VEGA 1973-74. Smith told me they used two miles of tape to mask out the flames (well, whatever they used, it worked).

5 - Jeff Rapp - GRIM REAPER 1982 Arrow. The short-lived Tony Ceraolo tuned entry from NJ. Red and black.

6 - Roger Garten - WAR HORSE 1973 Mustang. A super-utilitarian paint design.

7 - Paul Radici - RADICI & WISE 1975 Monza. Wasn't around for long but it was a beautiful car.

8 - Bob Simmons - NEW ENGLANDER 1978 Monza. Two thirds blue fading to white towards the tail.

9 - Harlan Thompson - "FIREBALL MONZA" 1977 Monza. The last in a long line of Phillips & Shores funny cars based out of Florida. The flame job was a classic design, executed by CIRCUS paints.

10 - Dave Condit - "CONDIT BROS" 1978 ARROW. One of the best looking funny cars ever.

Thanks! 

David Hapgood 
davidh@nethost.multnomah.lib.or.us

 

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