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70s Funny Cars - Round 31
70s Funny Cars - Round 32
70s Funny Cars - Round 33
70s Funny Cars - Round 34
70s Funny Cars - Round 35
70s Funny Cars - Round 36
70s Funny Cars - Round 37
70s Funny Cars - Round 38
70s Funny Cars - Round 39
70s Funny Cars - Round 40
70s Funny Cars - Round 41
70s Funny Cars - Round 42
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70s Funny Cars - Round 44
70s Funny Cars - Round 45
70s Funny Cars - Round 46
70s Funny Cars - Round 47
70s Funny Cars - Round 48
70s Funny Cars - Round 49
70s Funny Cars - Round 50
70s Funny Cars - Round 51
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70s Funny Cars - Round 54
70s Funny Cars - Round 55
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Round 38: Featuring Division 4 floppers, including Kenny Bernstein, Jack Robbins, Bob Harris, the Cook, Lander, and Moffitt "Drag-On Vega," Charlie Smith, the "Smokey Bear," Buddy Warren, Roy Doyan, Keedy & Poucher's "Bandit," and Rice & Tryon's "Saturday Night Fever."


 

Kenny Bernstein’s first funny car ride was not a world-beater. It was not a lack of money or experience, but the Ray Alley owned "Engine Masters" Cougar was too outdated when it debuted in 1969. Gilmore built the chassis, but he thought the chassis just held up the wheels. The car’s space frame and extensive aluminum work made the car too heavy to compete with Snow, Goldstein, and other racers running in the six-second range. The car was good for mid-sevens on an average day with a known best of 7.54 at La Place, Louisiana. The "Engine Masters" Cougar was parked by the end of the 1970 season. Bernstein took over the team’s Charger in 1971. (Photo courtesy of Drag Racing Memories, info from Dennis Doubleday and Draglist.com files)


Jack Robbins was one of the first funny car racers in Texas. He began as the owner of the Texas Bandit Chevy II in 1966. Over the next decade, he owned and drove various cars such as the Texas Bandit, Wild Thing, Cowtown Hustler, and the Time Bandit. These cars were all injected nitro or blown alcohol powered funny cars. Jack Robbins’ last funny was this Hemi powered Monza. The car was raced on straight alcohol. In 1977 at the mostly forgotten AHRA Fall Nationals, Jim Tice put up $10,000 to win for the 16-car funny car field. Tice allowed BB/FCs to race for the extra money as long as they ran at least 50% nitro. Jack Robbins was one of those BB/FC racers who entered the class. On alcohol, the car ran a best of 7.17 at Green Valley. Robbins retired by the middle of the 1978 season. (Photo provided by Jim White; info from Jack Robbins, Bret Kepner, and Draglist.com files)


Bob Harris began his funny car career in a Barracuda in 1967. In 1969, he debuted the "Super Shaker" Corvette. In 1970, he got a sponsor from the "Vette Shop" in Houston. The renamed "Vette Shop" machine suffered the "Corvette Curse" like many other Corvette funny cars of the era. The Corvette burned to the ground at Houston International Dragway. Harris went on to drive the "Dodge Fever" as a hired driver in 1971, and then retired at the end of that season. (Photo courtesy of David Ray; info from Draglist.com files)


In the mid-seventies, NHRA still raced AA/Funny Cars at the divisional races. The problem was that they did not always have full fields at these races. Enterprising BB/FC racers jumped on the chance to make a few extra dollars by leaving Pro Comp to race their big brothers. Frank Cook raced AA/FC with his BB/FC car and almost won the Division 4 title. Cook got the "Drag-On" Vega through Jim Robbs, who owned Racing Fuels, Inc.

The Cook, Lander, and Moffitt "Drag-On Vega" was trick for the day. It was a Ken Cox chassis with a late model Keith Black aluminum hemi. Chuck Lander was the car crew chief and tuner. Cook finished number 2 in 1976 due to short fields, his ability to make runs every time, and great blown alcohol performance. In 1977, Cook raced in Pro Comp, and in 1978, helped form the All-American Funny Car Circuit. Cook also won a few more championships with the Drag- On Vega. (Handout courtesy of Gary Osborn; info by Danny White)


Charlie Smith was one of the best racers in the country in the 1960s. The Oklahoma based "Plain Vanilla" A/Altered was a winner week in and week out no matter where he raced. One of the few racers that could beat him was his brother Fred Smith in his A/C machine. By the time Charlie Smith switched to AA/Altered in the late sixties, his winning ways had slowed. In 1971, Smith and his partner decided to switch to nitro funny car. Charlie Smith finished his driving career in the beautiful "Plain Vanilla" Challenger. The seven-second runner was a middle of the pack performer. Smith retired from driving by the end of 1972. (Photo courtesy of Drag Racing Memories)


The "Smokey Bear" cop car series of BB/FC machines was one of most popular series of cars in Texas during the late seventies and early eighties. Crowds loved the car’s theme and the flashing lights. The Wasson Bros. built the first "Smokey Bear" in their Arlington, Texas shop. Beaver Wasson built engines to support his racing habit. Wasson built a 515 C.I. Donovan for the "Smokey Bear" Satellite. Gary Cochran was chosen to drive the machine. This was not the infamous " Mr. C" Gary Cochran but a different one.

The "Smokey Bear" was usually a BB/FC, but added nitro for the above mentioned Fall Nationals. The "Smokey Bear " lasted to the semi finals of the race. The car was converted back to the blown alcohol setup afterwards. The "Smokey Bear" funny car series continues to run to this day, although with a series of different owners and drivers. (Handout photo provided by Gary Osborn; info provided by Gary Osborn, Gary "Mr. C" Cochran, Bret Kepner, the late Alden Swinford, and Draglist.com files)


Buddy Warren was a dragster guy, but he made a short foray into funny car racing in 1974. Warren was a chassis builder and machinist by day. He raced the "Thrashing Machine" front-engine AA/Fuel Dragster with the Texas Top Fuel Circuit in the late 60s. In 1974, Warren built this Chevrolet Vega called "The Streaker" after that popular seventies fad. The car had 392 Chrysler Hemi for power. Warren made it into the top five in Division 4 standings in 1974. He made it to the finals at the only Division 4 race held at Greater Southwest Dragway, a converted airport track near Dallas. Draglist.com files show that "The Streaker" ran in the seven-second range at over 200 mph. In 1975, the Vega was sold to Don Sosenka. Buddy Warren retired from driving but returned to drive Kurt Flack’s Top Fueler in 1984 and 1985. (Handout and info courtesy of Gary Osborn)


Roy Doyan began his funny career with the ex-CKC Chevy II in the sixties. He raced the much altered "Freak Out" fastback into the 1969 season. The "Old Glory" Camaro replaced the way outdated Chevy II. The San Antonio native was a regular in Texas match races "Old Glory." The Camaro ran sevens on a good day. Doyan traveled nationwide, but with little success. A new Mustang was reported to have replaced this Camaro. (Photo from the Kong Collection; info from Draglist.com files)


The practice of filling short AA/FC funny car fields with BB/Funny Cars was a common practice during the seventies at divisional events and match races. It was not unusual for the alcohol BB/FCs to give the nitro AA/FCs a run for their money. The Rodeck Chevrolet powered "Bandit" 1977 Pontiac Trans Am BB/FC was owned by Andy Keedy and Ralph Poucher of Dallas, Texas. According to the car's tuner, crew chief, truck driver, and jack of all trades, John Dearmore, the team was asked to fill out a short AA/FC field at an Amarillo WCS race after a rain out had wiped out the original race.

The "Bandit" was the former "War Eagle" Trans Am of Mike Hamby & Dale Pulde. The car was named the "Bandit" after the movie "Smokey & the Bandit" and mainly to build up match race action between it and the "Smokey Bear" Arrow BB/FC. Dearmore said the car was built with a cast-iron Chevy, which was replaced by the larger 540 C.I. Rodeck Chevy for more cubic inches and durability. He also added that the car was always about two-tenths off the fastest Hemi BB/FCs of the day. The best times for the car were in the 6.80s. The Trans Am was a regular on the All-American Funny Car Circuit based out of Texas. In the photo, the driver was co-owner Andy Keedy at Amarillo. Keedy later retired and was replaced by Mike Savage out of Arizona. (Photo from JW Last files; info from John Dearmore)


Some AA/FCs never made it to the track. The Oklahoma based "Saturday Night Fever" of Ron Rice and Steve Tryon is an example. Both Rice and Tryon had injected nitro experience before buying Larry Rogers’ Satellite. Rice had an A/FD and Tryon had an A/FC Vega. On the ‘Fever car, Rice owned the chassis and Tryon owned the Hemi engine. The partnership split before they could race the car. Ron Rice converted it back to an A/FC with his injected nitro Chevrolet. Tryon went on to own his own funny cars and moved backed to Arizona. Today, Ron Rice drives the ‘Seminole Shaker" TA/FC. Steve Tryon has taken recent rides in AA/Fuel Altereds, nostalgia funny cars, and CIFCA alcohol floppers. (Photo & info courtesy of Ron Rice)


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