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The statistics that accompany this tale deal only with selected match races and not the whole 1976 package. Based on printed reports in National Dragster, Drag News, and the various drag racing magazines, Prudhomme compiled a stunning 119-22 win-loss mark.

Obviously there are other great years, although the above three stand out the most. In passing, one can't overlook the twin championship seasons of Gene Snow in 1970 (NHRA, IHRA) and Mark Oswald in 1984 (NHRA, IHRA) nor the 1969 season enjoyed by Danny Ongais at the wheel of Mickey Thompson's Mach-1 Mustang, Raymond Beadle's amazing win streak in 1976 with his "Blue Max" Mustang II and his twin championship 1981 season, or Kenny Bernstein's seven-event winning 1987 season with the Budweiser King "Batmobile" Buick.

Of this next group, Ongais probably was the most impressive. Snow, Beadle, and Oswald all won two hot rod association championships in their golden years and would seem to rate above a car whose only season-ending award was the 1969 Drag News (Funny Car) Driver of the Year, but a closer look gives a different picture.

Snow's "Rambunctious" Dodge Challenger won three NHRA titles out of seven races and had the best top-ending car in the sport, winding up with an aggregate best of 6.76, 218.44, one of the top three e.t.s all season. In AHRA competition, Snow won five of 10 Grand American events.


In the spring of 1976, Raymond Beadle's "Blue Max" Mustang II ran off a 30-0 win-loss run. He is seen beating Don Prudhomme's dreaded Monza in the final at Fremont during that skein. Jim Phillipson photo.

Beadle had a strong car in 1981 with his "Blue Max" Plymouth Horizon, but he only won one NHRA event (a biggie, though, the U.S. Nationals) and captured two IHRA titles that season. Actually, Beadle's 1976 season produced his greatest winning streak when he went undefeated from the IHRA Pro-Am, April 3-4 to June 13 when he lost in the semifinals to Tom McEwen at the NHRA Springnationals. In that run of wins, Beadle compiled a 30-0 mark while scoring at the Pro-Am, the NHRA Cajun Nationals, and the IHRA World and Dixie Nationals national events.

Oswald, of course, wheeled the awesome Candies & Hughes/Old Milwaukee Pontiac Trans Am in 1984 to the NHRA and IHRA Funny Car crown but, like Beadle, went just far enough to win. He won two NHRA and IHRA events that year and ran the best speed in the sport's history with a 262.39-mph blast at the IHRA Northern Nationals in Milan, Michigan during July.

Ongais probably had as great a first half of the year as one could ask for. He, like Nicholson, had a bit of technological edge because Thompson's Amos Saterlee-tuned Mustang, built by number two team driver Pat Foster, featured a Top Fuel-style roll cage (as opposed to the old square driver area) and more importantly, zoomie headers as used by the Top Fuel dragsters.

From the completion of the 1969 NHRA Winternationals (where the car DNQed) to the Orange County U.S. Professional Dragster Championships on July 19, Ongais was basically undefeated. He broke an O-ring against Charlie Allen while staging in the Funny Car final of a March 29 Orange County Funny Car show and red-lighted on June 8 at the AHRA Spring Nationals in Bristol, Tenn., against Candies & Hughes. He got back in on the break rule at that AHRA event and won it on the reprieve.

In the time between February and the day of his first real loss, Ongais racked up an incredible 55-2 mark going into the USPDC race. On the way, Ongais won the Stardust National Open in Las Vegas, the Bakersfield March Meet, the AHRA Grand Nationals at Detroit, the AHRA Springnationals at Bristol, the NHRA Springnationals at Dallas, the AHRA Grand American at Lions, and the Orange County Nitro Championships.

At the USPDC race, Ongais knocked off Ray Alley, "Flash Gordon" Mineo, and Gary Gabelich in the Beach City Corvette for the right to face the red-hot Dave Beebe in the "Big John" Mazmanian Barracuda in the final and it was here that Ongais truly lost his first race of the year when Beebe prevailed, 7.45, 205.01 to 7.55, 193.54.

The M/T/Ongais Mustang's next stop was Irwindale on July 26 and the Hawaiian racer was beaten by Gas Ronda, indicating that he was being brought back down to earth.

The M/T-Ongais team still managed to go on to win the 1969 U.S. Nationals and also get asterisked credit for the first six-second Funny Car run with a 6.96 at Kansas City International on Sept. 14.

By the end of the year, though, racers like Pat Minick in "the Chi-Town Hustler," Gene Snow, and Don Schumacher clearly had the better running cars. Ongais' success in 1969 was pretty much the last for an SOHC Ford-powered Funny Car.

Soooooo…there you are. These are the cars and the years that stood out in the opinion of Drag Racing Online. Who had the best overall? We don't know. You tell us.


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