By Mike McCloskey
Thanks to Robbie "Pea Soup"
Jon Lundberg read the following comments
at the dedication of the McCloskey and Jordan fuel flathead dragster to the
NHRA Motorsports Museum at the 2000 California Hot Rod Reunion.
We direct your attention to the starting line where Mike
McCloskey and Greg Jordan's fuel flathead dragster is displayed. At this
time, the owners would like to present the car, for permanent display, to
the National Motorsports Museum at the Fairplex in Pomona. Accepting the car
on behalf of the museum is the Vice President of NHRA, Steve Gibbs.
The flathead V-8 engine was produced by Henry Ford from 1932
until 1953 and is credited with the birth of the sport of drag racing. It
lent itself to "hopping up" and many of today's manufacturers
got their start building hot rod parts for the flatmotor.
Greg joined Mike's crew in 1963 and by 1966 they had
formed a partnership and fabricated the frame for the dragster you see here.
The car began its racing career in 1968 and by the ‘70s, it was dominating
flathead racing. The owners were charter members of the United Flathead
Racers Association. The group boasted as many as 29 flathead powered race
cars and provided shows to many smaller drag strips throughout California,
Arizona and Nevada for over 10 years. Imagine; a small track owner could buy
a 16-dragster eliminator package for under a thousand dollars!
During those years, this car was virtually unbeatable in
competition, winning the overall points title for eight straight years! A
remarkable feat considering the competition. Some of the notables include
the McCray brothers, McCain and Houtz and the venerable "Mr.
Flathead," John Bradley. Probably the last competitive flathead at
national events, it traveled to the AHRA World Finals in Spokane in 1978 and
defeated a 16 car field in Top Comp Eliminator. The qualifiers included 15
overhead-powered dragsters and only one flathead!
The original 239 cubic inch engine has been heavily
modified. The heart of the power plant is a 5/8-inch stroker crank which,
coupled with a 7/16 overbore yields a substantial 312 cubes. Hilborn
injection, M&H tires and a Ford C-4 three speed automatic transmission
combined with 70% nitromethane yielded times in the low 9's at speeds of
150 MPH. Running the car on pump gasoline garnered the team the title of
"first gas flathead in the nines." Total weight of the car is less
than 1000 pounds thanks in part to the Schwinn front wheels. That's right,
The rail was raced at various nostalgia meets until 1990.
During that time, the car was continually modified to keep up with ongoing
rule changes. A five-point roll bar was installed. Three-inch wide harnesses
and an onboard fire extinguishing system were also added. When NHRA mandated
that only factory-welded chassis were legal for competition in the fuel
classes, the little racer was finally retired from competition. It had raced
at nearly 50 drag strips over a period that spanned more than 20 years.
Mike and Greg loaned their icon to a friend who put it on
the nostalgia show circuit for several years. In 1999, the flattie was found
in a barn in the high desert where it had languished and deteriorated for
some time. Greg recovered the car and delivered it to Mike's shop where he
agreed to take time out from classic Corvette restorations to rebuild the
race car. The M&J "Magic Mountain" car has undergone an
extensive year-long reconstruction and is presented as it raced in its
heyday, the mid-seventies. Return with us now to those days of yesteryear
and enjoy this historic piece of drag racing lore.