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Drag Racing Stories
Jan 3, 2013


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70s Funny Cars, Round 58

Text by Danny White


The team of Mickey Thompson and Larry Fullerton was best known for their other funny car but the pair also raced this short-lived machine. It was used mainly as a test bed for the Boss 429 Hemi in 1970. The team, which also featured the talented Don Ratican as tuner, struggled like others to make the Shotgun run as well as the Chryslers and even the Ford SOHC. The team did not race for long -- 1970 was a disappointing year for the Mickey Thompson fleet of funny cars. Mickey replaced all his cars by 1971 and also brought in new drivers to shoe them. Larry Fullerton built a new Trojan Horse Mustang in 1971 with Keith Doherty, which became his most famous and successful racecar. (Info from Draglist.com files)


Dave Benjamin began a long nitro career with this Corvette. Benjamin teamed with Ned Parsons to field the car which, according to Dave, was like the setup on the Jim Dunn Cuda of the era. The Corvette had a lightweight chassis with a high gear only 392 Chrysler for power. Benjamin said that the body was molded from a stock Corvette and stretched to fit the chassis. Parsons attempted to license in the car but failed in his attempts. This left the driving chores to Benjamin. The team later split, with Benjamin going on his own to a long career in funny cars and altereds. (Photo courtesy of & Information from Dave Benjamin)


Although he raced an injected nitro A/Funny Car, it did not keep Ben Griffin from racing with the big boys in match races in the Texas area. Griffin was a master of the injected nitro combo at the wheel of his own cars and others like the Yancey & Camp A/FD and the Carrol Bros. A/FD. Here we have Ben behind the butterfly of the Ussery & England A/FC Mustang in a shoot at Green Valley. The Mustang was built by T-Bar chassis in Dallas and featured a 464 Chrysler Hemi built by Ronnie Ussery. Griffin only raced the Ussery & England Mustang in 1973 before switching to a blown alcohol BB/FC. (Handout photo courtesy of Gary Osborn, info from Draglist.com files)


Bob Taylor had previously been a partner in the Hunt & Taylor AA/FC Mustang. By 1974, Bob returned from a couple of years off. He bought the final Boss Hoss Mustang of John and Cogo Eads and repainted the car in his Hemi Hoss colors. Micheal Cox drove at first but Paul Gordon later became the driver for the rest of the car's life. What set this car apart from other was the team's use of the 392 Chrysler Hemi. The team was one of the last holdouts to keep using the venerable early Hemi to run solid-six second times. After the team retired in 1977, the body managed to survive through the eighties and nineties. Tiny Eglit bought the body and repainted it, and mounted it for use. See our 70sfunnycars.com Lost & Found page. (Photo courtesy of Hector Leal and Racing and Rodding.com; info from Draglist.com and 70sfunnycars.com files) 


In the 1970s, Roy Phelps of Santa Pod Raceway bought several American funny cars to race at his drag strip. One of the cars Phelps purchased was the yellow and blue 1978 Plymouth Arrow of Raymond Beadle in 1979. Phelps also arranged for Beadle to drive the car at Santa Pod that year. Beadle beat Gene Snow at the Big Go in the quickest side by side European race ever, 6.00 to 6.04. This was the version of the Blue Max that Ronny Young  chose to recreate recently. (Photo courtesy of Alan Currans and www.theaccelerationarchive.co.uk, info from Draglist.com files)  


Henry Hudson’s Super Ford Mustang was one of the last space frame funny cars running in AA/FC. Based in Florida, Hudson hit most southeastern events. This photo shows that the Super Ford also ran the 427 SOHC engine. Harry raced this car before driving the Dennis the Menace funny car of Dennis Kirkland, a machine in which he unfortunately lost his life. (Photos & info from Draglist.com files)


In the mid-seventies, Byron Ward raced the former Larry Christopherson Arizona Wildcat fuel altered in a few races. Very late in the decade Ward, bought the Powers Steel Corvette from John Powers. Byron only raced the car a couple of times with Dave Benjamin behind the wheel before he retired from funny car racing. (Photo Courtesy of Auto Imagery & info from Draglist.com files)


The Bay & Rupert team consisting of tuner Richard Bays and driver Frank Rupert finished their funny car career with Pat Johnson’s Eagle One Mustang in 1979. The funny car was part of a two car team that also included a Top Fueler. The funny car, an old rebodied Bays & Rupert chassis, was not run very often. The team is best known for an unfortunate incident at the 1979 US Nationals with the Top Fueler though that resulted in the death of an ABC cameraman. The team split up after that race. Richard Bays went on to tune for Mert Littlefield, Gary Densham, and others. Frank Rupert’s son Jason is now one of the top nostalgia funny car racers in the sport. (Photo Courtesy of Auto Imagery & info from Draglist.com files)


Ken Smith’s Vampirella funny car ranks among the most forgotten funny cars. The Florida based racer only competed in the fuel funny car class for a few years in local divisional action and match races. The Vega was named after the sexy cartoon book character. Smith took the car into the six second range, but retired from funny car racing and finished out his career in an alcohol dragster. (Photos & info from Draglist.com files)


Gene Beaver took the LA Hooker Mustang II on a tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1978 with Dale Pulde and Jim White doing the driving. After the tour, Beaver sold the car to Australian Pro Stock racer Ed Stipanovich instead of shipping the car back to the United States. Big Ed, as he was known, planned on driving the car, but did not fit under the roll cage. Stipanovich hired veteran drivers like Bob Shepherd and Graeme Cowin to drive instead. The Sindicate ran mid-sixes with the best in Australia before Ed retired from racing. Stipanovich recently returned to racing with his son Chris to field a new funny car. (Photo Courtesy of Steve Thomas & info from Draglist.com files)

 

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