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Drag Racing Stories
Sep 17, 2007


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70s Funny Cars: Round 45

Text by Danny White




Butch Hicks ran the wildly pinstriped King Cuda Barracuda funny car out of Missouri starting in 1969 and through the 1970 season. This King Cuda has no correlation to the Jeff Gordon owned King Cuda found in Round 9. Hicks ran the AHRA series, match races, and the occasional NHRA race. Butch broke into the sevens with a known best of 7.96, 188 and he backed that up with a 7.97 at the AHRA race at St' Louis in 1969. Hicks retired after the 1970 season. (Photo by Ray Mann, courtesy of Geoff Stunkard and www.quartermilestones.com; info from Draglist files)



The Goldenrod funny car series of JC Sizemore were Southern match race legends. The first famous Goldenrod was a fuel burning 55 Chevrolet that ran with the match bashers of the sixties. By the start of the seventies, the team was running this sleek Don Hardy built Nova called the Super Goldenrod. The car was built with a 427 Chevy and later got a 426 Chrysler Hemi. Wayne Mahaffey was the usual driver of choice for Sizemore running best times in the mid-sevens. (Photo by Big Bob Snyder; info from Draglist files)



The American Challenge of Bobby Lagana was his first flip top flopper, but Lagana had raced funny cars at the very beginning with the wild wheelstanding Chevoco Comet match basher powered by a Chevy. The American Challenge was a full size funny car built right at the time the mini funny car boom was happening. Lagana ran the Challenger's 392 Chrysler mostly on alcohol and low percentages of nitro in Northeastern match race action. Lagana went on to moderate success in the Ron Leaf Vega and his series of Twilight Zone funny cars, altereds, and Top Fuelers that continue to run to this day with son Bobby, Jr. at the wheel. (Photo courtesy of Big Bob Snyder; info from Draglist files)


 
The Drastic Plastic name has been around for almost three decades as of 2007. The first Drastic Plastic fuel car was the former Chi-Town Hustler Mustang II owned by Gary Shaver and Woineic. Shaver had raced an A/A Fiat and a BB/FC Mustang II called the Cruisin' Constable before buying the Mustang II from Farkonas, Coil, and Minick. Shaver and Woiniec hired Tom Motry to drive the car; the low buck team appeared mostly at match races over the next couple of years. Motry ran a known best of 6.28 at 220. Ron Correnti later took over the wheel of the car. Motry later returned with the Drastic Plastic on his own, but now as AA/FA which he still fields to this day. (Photo courtesy of Dave Ferrin; info from Draglist files)



The Phantom Corvette was a Dallas, Texas, based funny car owned by Wayne Wilder. Wilder had the Phantom built after the death of Paul Pritchett at the wheel of the Ace Muffler car at the AHRA Winternationals. Kenny Bernstein had been a partner with Wilder for a short while in the sixties. T-Bar Chassis built the Corvette to run a direct drive 392 Chrysler; this made the Phantom weigh in a light 1,690 pounds. Paul Gordon drove the Phantom in match race action mostly in the Texas area; this shot was at the wild Riverside Raceway in Tennessee, a track famous for its match race action. In 1972, the Phantom received several canard wings to help with down force. Wilder retired the Phantom and Gordon went on to drive several more funny cars as a welcome break from his career in law service. (Photo courtesy from Big Bob Snyder; info Draglist files)



Dan Lexa was a low-buck nitro racer from the state of Colorado. Lexa worked long hours at his day job in order to finance the running of his Colorado based funny cars. The Colorado Cougar was this 392 Chrysler Hemi powered machine built in 1972. The little Cougar body was a popular body but was much rarer after the start of the seventies. Lexa and famed dragster racer Tom Kaiser took the wheel of the Colorado Cougar. Lexa ran best of 7.20s in the car before selling it. Lexa returned in the late seventies with the ex-Billy Meyer Camaro called the Colorado Gold and raced into the eighties. (Photo courtesy of Big Bob Snyder; info from Draglist files)



Dave Mudrack was a Top Fuel racer who teamed with his brother before switching over to funny cars and building the Speed Freak Mustang in 1971. Mudrack did not travel far from his Michigan home to race this sanitary funny car. The name of the car was switched in 1972 from the Speed Freak to the War Horse, a name used by two other fuel funnies. The Draglist shows that Mudrack ran best of 6.91 at 206 in the Mustang before parking the car in 1973. (Photo courtesy of Big Bob Snyder; info from Draglist files)



“Nitro Nellie” Goins was the first African American female to drive funny cars, a fact that has not received adequate coverage. Nellie and her husband Otis began to race funny car with an A/FC Barracuda called the Conqueror. The couple ran with the UDRA and the MIFCA, running 8.40s at 165. A new Cuda replaced the Barracuda as the pair continued to race the car as an injected A/FC. Goins was featured in Ebony magazine around this time. The article told of Goins and her husband as well as a few close calls Nellie had while driving. The pair decided to add a blower and new Mustang to run AA/FC, but the machine was seldom run. A new Monza body was later mounted but never run. Nellie sold the Monza long after she retired from diving. The car is in Florida today and has been restored for nostalgia action. (Photo from the Goins family, courtesy of Bob Gibson; info from Bob Gibson, Bret Kepner, Dennis Doubleday, and Draglist files)



Dennis Kirkland ran a series of funny car in the Southeast before fielding the Dennis the Menace Mustang including the Sagittarius Cougar and Pinto that carried only his name. Harry Hudson drove this car for Kirkland as well as his own Super Ford Mustang. Hudson ran a best of 6.64 in the Dennis the Menace machine, running mainly throughout the Southeast. Unfortunately, Hudson lost his life in the car after a crash in Blaney, South Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Big Bob Snyder; info from Draglist files)



Gary Ritter was a Top Fuel racer before driving the Ernie Spickler & Doug Jordan Jolly Rancher Trans Am. The Pontiac was one of the first drag racing cars to be sponsored by the famed Colorado-based candy company. Spickler & Jordan previously ran the Hell's Cargo Mustang and dragsters before building this Trans Am. The team raced mostly locally under the Jolly Rancher banner from 1978 to 1980 with Mike Mackey also driving at times. After the loss of Jolly Rancher sponsorship, the team put the car up for sale, but not before returning it to the Hell's Cargo banner for a few races before retiring. Ritter went on to drive the Insanity, Sno-Town Shaker, Dave Benjamin, and the American Eagle funny cars. One of the original first five second Top Fuel racers, Ritter also became one the first five second nostalgia Top Fuelers by accident when he stayed on the throttle too long! Driver Mike Mackey attempted to return to racing funny cars in the nineties, but the deal fell through. (Photo courtesy of Bob Gibson; info from Bob Gibson and Draglist files)
 

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