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70s Funny Cars - Round 4
70s Funny Cars - Round 5
70s Funny Cars - Round 6
70s Funny Cars - Round 7
70s Funny Cars - Round 8
70s Funny Cars - Round 9
70s Funny Cars - Round 10
70s Funny Cars - Round 11
70s Funny Cars - Round 12
70s Funny Cars - Round 13
70s Funny Cars - Round 14
70s Funny Cars - Round 15
70s Funny Cars - Round 16
70s Funny Cars - Round 17
70s Funny Cars - Round 18
70s Funny Cars - Round 19
70s Funny Cars - Round 20
70s Funny Cars - Round 21
70s Funny Cars - Round 22
70s Funny Cars - Round 23
70s Funny Cars - Round 24
70s Funny Cars - Round 25
70s Funny Cars - Round 26
70s Funny Cars - Round 27
70s Funny Cars - Round 28
70s Funny Cars - Round 29
70s Funny Cars - Round 30
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
70s Funny Cars - Round 43
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
70s Funny Cars - Round 52
70s Funny Cars - Round 53
70s Funny Cars - Round 54
70s Funny Cars - Round 55
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Round 24: Featuring Jim Adolph's Shady Glenn Dart, Bob Tardugno's Roman Rat Nova, Jake Johnston in Gene Snow's 71 Charger, Bill Rogers' Travelin' Texan Vega Panel Wagon, Willie Borsch in the Walt's Puffer Monza, Dennis Geisler's Mustang II, Pat Foster in John Bateman's Atlas Oil Tool Maverick, Bob Veselka's Going Texas Mustang, Hank Johnson's Mr. Auto Supply Monza, and Paul Gordon's Red Baron Charger.


From SoCal came the Shady Glenn Plymouth. Car debuted in 76 with Pat Foster at the helm; by 77 Jim Adolph was in the cockpit. Previous Jim Glenn Charger bodied entry won the Div 7 F/C title in 74 with Gary Burgin doing the driving. Pictured car was campaigned on a very limited budget... in fact, Car Craft magazine, April 77, in a "Rich man, Poor man" comparative piece contrasted the Shady Glenn operation to Billy Meyer's bucks-up effort. Despite limited financing, the car was competitive and although a national event win eluded the team, car took runner-up at Bakersfield in 79. Last year of the decade found the team touring back east with Jake Crimmins at the helm when in Jim Adolph's words "Jake Crimmins drove the Shady Glenn Dodge at a couple match races back east when I couldn't make the trip. Actually, we did it for financial reasons due to the travel expenses. Plus, people liked the car, but Jake was one of the heroes back then...  " Car was for sale at the end of the 79 season, was bought by Gene Beaver and Pat Johnson, rebodied as a Corvette and campaigned in the early 80s as the LA Hooker with Henry Harrison driving. (Photo courtesy of Dave Milcarek)


From New England in the early 70s came Bob Tardugno and the "Roman Rat" Nova. Bob came up through the sportsman ranks, then had Logghe Stamping build this car new for him in the 1970 timeframe (no, it's not an ex-JJ car!). By the time he took delivery and finished construction of the Candy Apple Red Nova he reports that advancing chassis technology had rendered the car "almost obsolete." Powered by a blown Chevy marine engine, car was a northeast division booked in and match race regular, although Bob did make annual treks to Florida in the Winter to participate in the open 16 car, 2 day funny car shows at Miami-Hollywood Dragway. Car was sold as 73 came to a close, new owner continued to campaign the car as a BB/FC. Tardugno purchased a Buttera chassis, dropped a Vega body on the car and planned to debut a new "Roman Rat" in the 74ish timeframe, but sold the car before the project was completed due to the rapidly escalating cost of racing. Today Bob is into a different kind of horsepower raising horses up New England way! (Info courtesy of Bob Tardugno)


One of the top "hired guns" of the 70s was Texan Jake Johnston; pictured is his 71 Gene Snow ride. Johnston got his start at 15 helping on Vance Hunts T/F car in the mid-60s, then went to work for Snow where he got his first driving stint in Snow's "R&B Killer Car" in the late 60s. Johnston drove Harry Schmidt's Blue Max in 70, won OCIR's Manufacturers Race that season before returning to the Snow fold wheeling the pictured car and a second Snowman car in 72... Johnston took care of match race competition while Snow concentrated on national events. When Snow consolidated into a one car effort in 73 Johnston landed a ride in the Keeling and Clayton Mustang, followed by Pisano & Matsubara's Vega in 75. He dominated west coast FC wars in 75 taking winner or R/U at most major shows; won Div 7 title in 77 wheeling the Pisano car, was later replaced at the helm of Pisano's Arrow in 79 by Tom Ridings. (Photo from Amalie Handout)


Probably the only successful Vega panel truck nitro funny car belonged to Corpus Christi, Texas' Bill Rogers in the mid-70s. According to former crew member Fred Erben, "Rogers was a super nice guy and the best stainless steel welder I have ever seen. Bill was doing contract welding for NASA at the time." Fred remembers "Rogers loved stuffed jalapeno peppers and we used to tour down in Mexico City doing exhibition runs there. We were paid in pesos and stuffed jalapenos. The peso exchange rate then was like 250 to 1 so we came home with suitcases full of pesos and the back of the pickup full of cases of stuffed jalapenos." According to Wheelstander shoe Tommy NcNeely "Bill built his own chassis, engines, etc. I don't remember him ever having trouble, but he was underpowered. He once told me that was why he did so well. He had a 392. Typically, many of the tracks weren't state of the art. He said while the paid killer cars were sliding around, he would just make a good pass. The times I was around him were at slick tracks and he would usually win." (Photo courtesy of Fred Erben, info courtesy of Fred Erben, Tommy NcNeely)


This was "Wild Willie" Borsch's last nitro ride...  the "Walt's Puffer" Monza owned by Wally Knoch from Michigan. Although pictured car stayed pretty close to it's mid-western home, it was campaigned in 1976/77ish timeframe and ran a best of 6.14 at 235 mph at the Orange County Raceway. As well as being Borsch's last ride this was also by the last in a long line of "Walt's Puffers"...  a low budget family car, Woody Gilmore built and powered by a Donovan hemi. Flopper started out as a funny car chassised altered, Monza body was added after NHRA dropped the AA/FA class. Car was descended from a long line of popular, national championship caliber "Walt's Puffer" roadsters and AA/FAs. Wally reports "The "puffer" name came from my dad always puffing on a cigar...  " Later "Puffer" entries were driven by Walt Knoch, Jr., until Willie Borsch, who had known Knoch since their altered days together, came into the picture and took over the reins of the Monza after breaking parts in his Mustang II and parking it. Today, Walt Jr. still owns this car. (Photo and info courtesy of Walt Knoch, Jr.)


Another transplant from the AA/FA ranks was SoCal's Dennis Geisler. Pictured Mustang II was an ex-Lil' John Lombardo flopper, followed Geisler's stints in the infamous rear engined "Hindsight" Duster in 75 and the Pete's Lil' Demon flopper. According to Auto Imagery's Dave Kommel "Dennis and I were neighbors when he and I teamed up in 76. We raced the altered through the end of 77, were very successful and had a lot of fun, but by the end of 77 bookings were getting harder to find and we didn't get near as much money as the floppers. At the end of 77, we bought "Lil' John" Lombardo's Mustang II. Campaigned on the west coast through the 78 season "we closed out the year by winning the Governor's Cup race at Sacramento, beating Tom McEwen in the final. One year of FC was enough for me... Dennis carried on for a few years (including a trip to Australia at the end of the 78 season, a "Cowboys Hot Dogs" Challenger F/C to usher in the 80s) before throwing in the towel. We had a lot of fun together and I'm glad we did it when we did because you couldn't even think of doing it today on our financial resources." (Photo and info courtesy of Dave Kommel at Auto Imagery)


The Atlas Oil Tool Maverick derived from the highly successful So-Cal based Atlas Oil Tool T/F efforts of the 60s. Following the demise of the T/F car in 69, "Big John" Bateman went F/C racing with Pat Foster debuting the pictured car in the spring of 70. National Dragster said of the car that it was one of the few capable of producing solid 6 second clockings at the time, set a rash of track records during a tour of Midwest and east coast tracks. Those who drove the Atlas Oil Tool Maverick during the 70 season included Pat Foster, Gary Scow and Mark Susman. John Collins took over the ride in 71 and by 72 a Mustang bodied Atlas Oil Tool effort debuted which Collins eventually purchased from Bateman, bringing an end to the Atlas Oil Tool line in early 73. Inaugural shoe Foster was one of the most traveled drivers of the 70s; other rides during the decade included the Damn Yankee Cuda, the highly successful Barry Setzer Vega, Lil' John Lombardo's Vega, the Soapy Sales car, the Chicago Patrol Mustang, the Shady Glenn Mopar, the Pisano Firebird and the Super Shops Arrow in which he became the 3rd member of the Cragar 5 Second Club at 5.99 in April 79. (L&M photo, courtesy of Bob Plumer's Drag Racing Memories)


From Texas, circa 1970 comes Bob Veselka and the "Going Texas" Mustang. Car was ex-Dick Loehr "Stampede" car from the 69 season; car was purchased when Loehr gave up nitro floppers, eventually to go Pro Stock racing. Bob reports "...  car came with all the contracts and sponsorship from Ford. We went straight to Orange County and started there. That was an experience - my first time with a Cammer...  it was a really great engine, however it required a lot more education on its mechanics and operation then I had at the time and to just jump in was not smart looking back" Bob's previous funny car experience had been "...  with a Mercury Cougar in 1967. I had a 392 blown Chrysler. in it and built the chassis myself. We started local area racing...  for us local was within 400 miles. With the Mustang Bob reports "...  I was just getting the Cammer to run when Ford pulled the plug -- no more sponsorships. We got the news at Bristol AHRA Springnationals where we had just set low F/C et for the meet. I loaded it up and turned my disappointment into doing something else and retired from drag racing." (Info and photo courtesy of Bob Veselka)


From the great Northwest came Hank Johnson. Johnson got his start in the early 60s at the wheel of a C/Gas Willys; first dragster came in the mid-60s. Move to hemi motivation came in 67, and by 69 Johnson and longtime partner Jim Daily were running well enough to finish third in Div 6 T/F standings. Johnson retired in 71, sold everything but after a brief layoff returned with another T/F effort that won the 71 Supernationals. Johnson continued to campaign T/F cars through the 70s, but by 77 joined other northwest "hitters" Jerry Ruth and Terry Capp in fielding both a T/F and F/C effort. Mr. Auto Supply sponsored Funny car stuck close to the northwest, was used mostly for match-race and booked in competition. Car was later repainted blue, Omni bodied flopper followed the Monza in the 80s. (Photo from Mr. Auto Handout courtesy of Jim White)


Hot on the heels of the Blue Max, came Paul Gordon and the Red Baron Charger from Texas, circa 1971. In fact, Gordon, who spent 20+ years in TX law enforcement, was the first driver for Harry Schmidt, wheeling ex-Mike Burkhart partner Schmidt's then new Hardy built Mustang before the Blue Max name was adopted (when the car just said Harry Schmidt on the side) and the reins turned over to fellow Texan Jake Johnston. Gordon, who confined his efforts mostly to the Texas flopper scene, also did stint's for Vance & Hunt, Jim Coursey, Wayne Wilder (Phantom Corvette) and Bob Taylor (Hemi Hoss Mustang)...  later went on to drive Dickie Williams "Spirit of 76" Vega in the mid-70s. Vega was raced thru 77 before being sold to Steve Hodkinson and Gordon moved to the alcohol flopper ranks in the early 80s driving the aptly named "Enforcer" Firebird. (Info courtesy of Danny White and David Ray, photo from "Big Mike" Burkhart's Scrapbook courtesy of David Ray.)


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