Round 3: Featuring
Don Roberts/Bill Lawton, King Camaro, Don Schumacher, Gary Burgin,
Ray Godman, Powers Steel, Fred Goeske, Ed McCulloch, Don Prudhomme,
Black Magic Vega, Jerry Ruth, and Jim Murphy.
seldom seen Bill Lawton Pinto F/C at New England Dragway's East
Coast Fuel and Gas Championships, May 1973 being driven by Don
Roberts. In his own words, due to clever planning Don drove two
cars at this race, the other being the King & Marshall AA/FD
in which he won the event. Although Lawton was still associated
with the Tasca car at this time, oddly this car had no Tasca markings
on it! Pinto debuted in mid-72, was sold in mid-73 to Al Hanna
and became a replacement for an Eastern Raider Pinto lost in a
finish line fire at Maple Grove. (Photo by Henry Witham courtesy
of Don Roberts)
From Phoenix, As., the
King Camaro of Dan Geare, Fred Totten and driver Dean LaPole
was one of the last Bowtie powered flopper holdouts at a time
when most other Chevy F/C's had gone to Hemi motivation. Team
experimented with such unique features as 2 magnetos/plugs per
cylinder and ultimately the Arias Chevy hemi head in the mid-70s.
Team pretty much confined efforts to match racing and booked in shows... car is pictured at 71 Fall Nationals at Englishtown, NJ.
Car was also noted to be among the loudest floppers of the times.
Note JJ's Camaros in the background and Jungle Bobbie bearing
witness to that fact. JJ later repainted tow car to match his
flopper. (JW Last Photo,71)
the 73 season came Don Schumacher's short lived Lil' John Buttera
built Wonder Wagon Vega panel wagon. Car started life with identical
team car... pair was driven by Glenn Way and Kelly Brown before
Brown crashed his and Schumacher took over the operation, then
crashed the remaining car. Drag Racing USA, April 73, said of
the panel wagon design "... bodies were chosen for more than
just the bread wagon connotation. With abrupt "Kamm back"
design, it has excellent aerodynamic characteristics..."
NOT! Following the demise of the panel wagons Schumacher painted
his "Stardust" Cuda in Wonder Bread colors and continued
the season, low slung aerodynamically trick Vega followed in 74.
(Photo from Kendall Handout courtesy of Jim White)
West Coast regular with Chevy bodied F/Cs in the early 70s, turned
touring pro and match racer in the mid-70s with FOMOCO shells,
Gary Burgin adopted the "Orange Baron" nickname in 1976.
Burgin was IHRA record holder the same year at 6.14/236 and won
the NHRA Nationals. In 77 Burgin switched back to a Monza shell,
later went back to a Mustang shell, then back to one of those
"what is it?" Firebird bodies in 83 to close out his
career. According to Norman Hechtkoff "The silly economics
of Drag Racing eventually sent Burgin to other pursuits. Gary
became an exporter of racing equipment. He made it easier for
racers in Europe, Asia, Australia and elsewhere to get the right
stuff to go drag racing." (Photo by John Farr)
Godman's Woody Gilmore built, Don Kirby sprayed, Preston Davis
driven Tennessee Bo-Weevil tows out of the lanes next to the Blue
Max at Warner Robins, Ga., during the 72 season. Godman participated
in the first NHRA Nationals in 1955, ran a string of T/F cars
before switching to funny cars in 1972. Team started 72 season
running both T/F and F/C, soon concentrated strictly on the flopper;
was rewarded by winning 72 Div 2 funny car title. Yellow and blue
Mustang body replaced the Cuda in 73. Later Satellite bodied entry
driven by Larry LaDue that concentrated on IHRA racing in the
south closed out the Bo-Weevil legacy in the late-70s. Career
highlight was taking runner-up to Tom McEwen at 72 PRO race at
Tulsa. (Photo by Franko)
based Powers Steel Camaro came from virtually nowhere in the late
70s as an immediate contender in the nitro flopper wars. Part
of the reason can be contributed to King Camaro partner Dan Geare
who took over wrenching chores after the King Camaro was destroyed
in 74. Car was shoed by Tripp Shumake initially, then Chris Lane
(Phoenix F/C) did a short stint before Denny Savage took over
the cockpit in early 78. Savage was IHRA funny car champ in 78
with this car. One unique aspect of this car was the use of a
B&J 3 speed transmission through almost the entire 78 season.
Team felt the setup allowed the team to tailor to a greater number
of track conditions. Corvette body with unique "pro stock"
style hood scoop later replaced the Camaro in early 80s. (JW Last
Fred Goeske campaigned some truly unique creations during his
F/C career. Ex-McEwen's rear engine Cuda in the mid 60s, the only
Road Runner bodied flopper in the late 60s, one of the first Duster
bodied cars in the early 70s and ultimately ended up as one of
the charter Rocket F/C pilots with a Monza body in the mid 70s.
Goeske also campaigned the Chicago Patrol Mustang II (driven by
Tom Anderson) as a nitro flopper in the mid-70s for a short period
before converting the car to rocket power to compliment his R/FC
Monza. (JW Last Photo, 71)
"The Ace" McCulloch and the Revell sponsored "Revellution"
Demon were the "killer" combo in 1972. Originally teamed
up with Art Whipple, who moved on and teamed with "Mr. Ed"
on his west coast based floppers, this car won almost everything
in site on the NHRA trail that year. McCulloch went on to campaign
a series of Arrow bodied cars in the late 70s, took over the reins
of the "Super Shop" Arrow in 1980 and after a winless
drought in the second half of the decade, won the US Nationals
that same year. Pictured car was listed in Drag Racing magazine's
all-time "Top 10 Funny Cars" in January 1989. (JW Last
"The Ace's" dominance in the early 70s, Don Prudhomme
stepped up to more than fill the same shoes in the mid-late 70s.
From the Army Cuda in 74, through his decade closing Army Arrow,
Prudhomme was THE threat. In 76, Snake won 7 NHRA events
in a row, finally having the streak broken by Gary Burgin at the
Nationals. Snake was AHRA F/C champ in 74, NHRA champ in 75, 76,
77 and 78. Adding to his credits, Prudhomme was the first flopper
in the 5s, recording a 5.98 at Ontario in 1975 and closed out
the decade holding the NHRA national record at 5.95. (Dave Milcarek
Segrini at the wheel of the Maryland based Black Magic Vega, York
US 30, 1975. Super Stock and Drag Illustrated in Aug 74 said of
this car "Artistically speaking, the "Black Magic"
Funny Car is probably the finest ever created." Hard to argue
that point! Sister car for a short period was Pee Wee Wallace
in the "Black Stang" which won the Div 1 F/C title in
75. Black Magic Vega was later shoed by R.C. Sherman (who won
the most events with this car) and 60s Top Gas star D.A. Santucci
who carried the name into the 80s with a Mustang and later a Thunderbird.
(Photo courtesy of Drag Racing Memories)
out of the great Northwest came Jerry "The King" Ruth.
Ruth dominated the 70s nitro scene in the NW, winning numerous
Division 6 T/F and F/C crowns, often both in the same year! In
fact in 1971, Ruth won 9 of the 10 nitro titles available in Div
6 WCS competition, only losing the T/F final at the final event
of the season. Ruth's first funny car was the ex-Art Whipple Camaro
in 1970, three Mustangs and a Mustang II followed. Ruth's T/F
cars concentrated on National Event competition while the F/C
was used mostly for the guaranteed money found match racing. Hired
guns in the 70s for Ruth included Frank Hall and current T/F wrench
Lee Beard. Ruth campaigned this car through the mid-70s, then
it went on to be raced by low-buck So Cal racer Rodney Flournoy in the late 70s with this same paint scheme minus any lettering.
(Larry Pfister Photo)
you seen this car? Ex-70s F/C owner/driver Jim Murphy is attempting
to locate his first flopper, the ex-Whipple and McCulloch Cuda.
Murphy, who came to asphalt from boats, bought this car and initially
put Butch Maas in the car for the 72 NHRA Winternationals, then
previous owner Ed McCulloch jumped in the seat and won Bakersfield
in 1972 before Murphy permanently took over the reins. Holy Smokes
Road Runner followed, the body from which ultimately ended up
as a tree house in New Jersey after a non-repairable mishap. Today,
Murphy is active in nostalgia T/F action. If you know the whereabouts
of the pictured car, drop me a line and I'll forward it to Jim.
(Photo courtesy of Jim Murphy)
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