35 YEARS AGO...
of July 17, 1966, the top 5 Top Fuel dragsters according to Drag News
Standard 1320 record list were: 1. Pete Robinson; 2. Paul Sutherland;
3. A&W Root Beer -Neil Leffler; 4. Dan Rightsell; and 5. The Andrews-Fisher-Fraley
"Blue Angels" dragster out of Wisconsin. ... Bill Martin's "400 Jr.
Top Fueler showed up at Lions on July 23 with radical 327-cid Chevy
with custom aluminum heads built by Leo Lyons and immediately ran a
career best of 7.83, 205.00 ... At Fontana Race City, Eddie Marcak's
"Flying Farmer" Mustang split two races of a Funny Car match race with
an up and comer named Dale Armstrong in 10,000 RPM Equipment-backed
"the Canuck" '65 Chevy II. Armstrong ran a best of 10.04, 139.75 in
the blown Chrysler-powered roadster ... Turbonique Inc. of Orlando,
Fla., ran a pictured ad showing their '66 "Black Widow" Volkswagen "Bug"
nearly beating "T.V. Tommy" Ivo's four-engine dragster. Ivo (photo)
just did catch the VW at Tampa Dragstrip that day, but the VW ran a
9.36, 168-mp speed untilizing the company's 850 horsepower microturbine
engine. As you can guess, they sold turbines and superchargers ... Top
Fuel Bike racer Boris Murray guided the Murray & Cook fuel-burning twin-Triumph
to a track record 9.66, 157.89 at Fremont.
25 YEARS AGO...
The Corvette body, which had been mostly snubbed by Funny Car racers
over the half decade, was resurrected in fine style at the 1976 IHRA
Summernationals (held at Union Grove, Wisc.) by Jerry Boldenow's "Moby
Dick" entry. He stunned soon-to-be-association champ Raymond Beadle's
"Blue Max" in the first round before losing in the semi's. He would
later go on to a great 6.15, 236.84 effort at that year's U.S. Nationals
... At this same race, Bob Glidden, in his only full year with IHRA,
lost in the Pro Stock final round to Wayne Gapp. The big deal was that
was the only time Glidden would lose an IHRA race that year. He won
eight of nine events, which culminated in the association's Winston
title ... The nation's hottest Funny Car driver that year was Don "the
Snake" Prudhomme in his Army-backed Monza (photo). He won the Super
Stock Magazine Nationals that month and followed with a win at the NHRA
Summernationals in Englishtown, N.J. ... Prudhomme was the low qualifier
at the event with a 6.13, which helped highlight an incredible skein.
In '76, Prudhomme was the No. 1 Funny Qualifier at NHRA events seven
out of eight times ... and, of course, he won seven of eight of their
races as well.
15 YEARS AGO...
Mark Oswald (photo) with the Candies & Hughes/Old Milwaukee Pontiac
was the big force in IHRA Funny Car competition in 1986. He won five
races that season, including the season championship. At the Northern
Nationals in Milan, Michigan, he came up a bit short when he lost in
the final to Kenny Bernstein's "Budweiser King" Ford. ... The other
July IHRA extravaganza was their Summer Nationals in Cleves, Ohio and
Oswald won that race ... On the subject of Funny Cars, Fred Mandoline,
the 1983 NHRA champ, won both the Alcohol Funny Car titles at Milan
and Cleves .... If July of 1986 is remembered for anything, it will
be Don Garlits' over-backwards wheelstand at the NHRA Summernationals
in Englishtown, N.J. You've all probably seen it on film at least once
and probably agree that, at the time, it rated near the top of anybody's
thrill list ...The guy he was running with on that pass, Darrell Gwynn,
went on to take the Top Fuel title.