Top 10 Match Bashers
Text by Danny White
1 Gary Dyer
In 1965, funny cars were gaining popularity across the country. A lot of drag racers and fans alike regarded the funny car/FX cars as “circus” acts and not real race cars. The car that changed a lot of peoples’ opinions on funny cars was the Mr. Norm’s Grand-Spaulding Dodge. When Norm Krause and Gary Dyer brought the ex-Roger Lindamood factory altered wheelbase car to Lions in 1965, the team was not known outside of the Midwest. Dyer then ran 8.63 at Lions, and it went down as one of the great runs in history. The other new funny cars had just broken into the eights. This run and the many victories put Gary Dyer into the headlines. Car sold to Chris Fairly in 1966, repossesed by Norm Krause, and sold to new owner in Texas. (Photo from Gary Dyer; info from Gary Dyer, James Ibusuki, )
2 Arnie Beswick
Arnie Beswick might not have been the biggest winner of the sixties, but he did put on a hell of a show. Beswick was a loyal Pontiac racer, though there was a short stint with a Comet A/FX. The "Tameless Tiger" GTO was home built and a little scary to say the least. Beswick stepped up to blown nitro after beginning with gas at the urging of future funny car star Frank Oglesby. This gave the greater Chicago area three blown nitro funny cars in 1964, including Gary Dyer in the Mr. Norm’s Dodge, Ron Pellegrini’s Super Mustang, and Beswick. This car was Beswick's second funny car, replacing a newer GTO that he raced during 1964. Arnie was credited the first nine-second funny car run. The "Tameless Tiger" was rebuilt to be much lighter than when it first raced in super stock. (L&M Photo Courtesy of Bob Plumer)
The “Ramchargers” were a famed drag racing team that help developed the funny car class in the sixties and well into the seventies. The “Ramchargers” were a group of Chrysler engineers that raced on the side using the best of Chrysler engineering. The team ran a series of race cars including an altered ‘49 Chrysler to a plethora of stocks and super stockers. Within the group of the Ramchargers that included Dick Maxwell, Tom Hoover, Phil Goulet, Don Westerdale, Jim Thornton, and many others, began the early development of the funny car. The Ramchargers were one of the first teams to have the 2% Super Stockers. The 2% led to the next stage of the radical altered wheelbase funny cars. The Coronet in the photos is said to be one of the first FCs into the eights, if not the first ever! Jim Thornton drove the car to a great 8.925, 150.75 at Cecil County in 1965. The Coronet was feared by many and rightly so. The car was one of the first well-known funny cars and one of the stars of the first Super Stock Nationals at York, PA, in 1965. An 8-19-66 Drag Times suggests this car ran 157.00 mph in 1965 at Detroit. However, when they were selling the car early in 1966, their for sale ad lists the best speed as 150.5 mph. (Photo provided by Drag Racing Memories; info provided by James Ibusuki and Draglist.com)
4 Jack Chrisman
The first fuel funny car short on ET, but long on boiling the hides all the wide down the track in 64 & 65. One hell of a show! (L&M Photo, Courtesy of Bob Plumer/Drag Race Memories)
5 Dickie Harrell
The great match racer raced several match bashers in the early years of funny cars with Chevy II's. Harrell was a premiere match racer and AHRA headliner. (L&M Photo, Courtesy of Bob Plumer/Drag Race Memories)
6 Gene Snow
Gene Snow’s "Rambunctious" ‘65 Dart is one the greatest race cars of all time. Snow won two U.S. Nationals in a row with the car in ‘66 and ‘67. The Dart was built from a stock Dodge. Over the course of a couple of years, T-Bar Chassis completely rebuilt the car. The Dart was steel, save for the fiberglass front end. All unneeded weight was cut off and the interior was replaced with aluminum. The Dart had windows to begin with but they were taken out later. When T-Bar rebuilt the car, they also lengthened the chassis. The Dart was a good racer before the rebuild and was great afterward. Snow won the two races at Indy and countless match races all over the country. The Dart was well known for leaving with the wheels up but going straight. Gene ran a great 8.61, 158.00 clocking with the car. Jake Johnston took over the car after Snow built his AA/FC. The Dart was a winner for its next owners, Mike Brown and the Richardson family. Snow bought the car back and restored it to 1966 standards. At Indy 1967, Snow repeated his 1966 triumph with an 8.67 run in the newly created Super Eliminator class (Mike Ditty Photo)
7 Dick Landy
His Landy Dodge went from gas to alcohol to nitro in a wink of eye and made the Dodge man a legend! Wild wheelstands and killer ET's from the altered wheelbase were normal. (L&M Photo, Courtesy of Bob Plumer/Drag Race Memories)
8 Bruce Larson
Larson's first USA-1 Chevelle funny car looked stock enough to make my list and was a great Northeast match basher in 1966. (L&M Photo, Courtesy of Bob Plumer/Drag Race Memories)
This legendary GTO was a killer on the West Coast made legends out of Jim Liberman and Lew Arrington!(L&M Photo, Courtesy of Bob Plumer/Drag Race Memories)
10 Ronnie Sox
Sox was a great match racer in 64 & 65 with his altered wheelbased Mopar. Slammin the four speed on nitro was too cool! (Bob Plumer/Drag Race Memories)
He was called the Old Reliable for nothing in Mopars and Chevies!
Pete Gates/Don Nicholson
Nicholson raced the Comet Cyclone first building the legend of the car Gates
came out of nowhere at the 66 SS&DI race to shock the best funny car racers!
The car were on gas and not a great success but they set the rest in the right
Bill Thomas Chevy II's
There were 3 cars built by Thomas easy to ID with the fastback tops raced by CKC
Team, Dick Milner, and Hutson Platt.
The California Flash altered wheelbase car put Leal on the national map.