70s Funny Cars - Round 1
70s Funny Cars - Round 2
70s Funny Cars - Round 3
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
Previous Cars 1
Previous Cars 2
Previous Cars 3
Previous Cars 4
Remember When?
Where Are They Now?
Lost & Found FCs
Forgotten FCs
Berserko & JJ
FC Links

70s Funny Cars: Round 55

Text by Danny White

By the start of the decade the funny car was quickly evolving into the form we know today. Other cars were throwbacks to the match bash cars of the early funny cars. The Banshee was one of them. The John Slicker & John Swooger team ran out of Detroit , Michigan . The Banshee began as an injected nitro car and had a 428 Pontiac in it for power. It was converted to an AA/FC match racer in 1970. John Slicker drove the Poncho powered flopper. We have no elapsed times for the team, but they traveled as far as the New England area to match race the Banshee. The team seemed to disappear after the 1970 season; we’ve found no further evidence of them racing. Photo and information courtesy of Dennis Doubleday; additional information from Draglist.com files)

Bob Papirnick was one of a handful of nitro funny car racers that hailed from Canada in the seventies. Papirnick got his start in funny cars when he imported the Diamond Jim Annin Challenger from California . Bob changed the car’s name to the Crosstown Challenger while keeping the car’s original paint. Papirnick soon replaced the Challenger with a Vega, and then later got his most famous car, a clean looking Plymouth Cuda that ran mid-sixes. Bob ended the decade as a hired gun in Geoff Goodwin’s former Pacemaker Vega. The car was featured in the movie Fast Company and Papirnick did the stunt driving for the movie. Most recently, Bob has been crewing on the nostalgia cars of Gordon Jenner. (Photo by Jerry Lucky from Blair Alderton at http://www.pbase.com/nitroimage; information from Draglist.com files)

Something missing in the current drag racing world of corporations, vinyl wraps, and like lettering is a good mural on a hand lettered paint job. The Michigan based Pony Express Pinto owned by Mike Bennett and driven by Bob Pacitto had the custom looks. Pacitto was the best known member of the team as he also drove for the Logghe Brothers, Connie Kalitta, and Pancho Rendon. The Pony Express was standard fare for the seventies with a Chrysler Hemi in a Logghe Bros. chassis. Pacitto ran as quick as 6.59, 213.27 in the 1976 season. (Photo from Thomas Nagy; information from Draglist.com files)

Jim Harrison bought the Banzai Charger (see Round 18) in 1974 from Sconci and Angell. Harrison got sponsorship from the local U.S. Marines recruiter and went on tour after hiring Bruce Burkhart to drive the Don Hardy built car. The team raced on the national scene with limited success, running a known best of 6.88, 212. Harrison ran into a problem with the sponsorship when Mickey Thompson’s U.S. Marines deal stated that he was the only person allowed to run the U.S. Marines banner. Harrison and Burkhart left the national tour and the car was sold to the Buccaneer team of Carpenter & Hodges. (Photo by Al Tracy; information from Jim Harrison and Bill Pratt; additional Information from Draglist.com files)

Of the handful of rear engine funny cars that ran in the seventies, most were from the West Coast. West Virginia ’s Don Casto was one few East Coast racers to run the unique machines. The problems of the rear engine funny car were plenty, including handling, wheelstanding, and driver perception while in the car. But this photo shows Don benefiting from the rear engine design as he rides out a fire at Bristol . Casto rebuilt the car with a Pontiac Grand Am body that ran as quick as 7.11. Don never had much success with his rear engine cars, but was a regular on the IHRA circuit and in match races. Casto teamed with Joe Boggs and Roger Hamrick on a Donovan powered Trans Am to end his career. (Photo and information courtesy of Art Suiter; additional Information from Bret Kepner and Draglist.com files)

After the demise of his low slung Vega (see round 26) due to a fire, Tom Anderson built a new Mustang II AA/FC called the Wild Thing. Tom ran the car in match races and in the occasional national event. Anderson ran a best of 6.58 at 212 with the Mustang II in 1976. Tom parked his own funny car to drive the Speed Racer of Mike Kase along with other funny cars before finding fame as a tuner. (Photo by Al Tracy; information from Draglist.com files)

Rick Chavez got into the funny car game when he bought Vern Hicks’ West Coast Gambler Cuda (see Round 43) and ran it as a BB/FC under the same name. Chavez stepped up with the purchase of the former “Wild Wilfred” Boutiler Vega, the first BB/FC to run a six-second time. Rick joined Dave Benjamin as the only other AA/FC from the state of New Mexico . Chavez said he had Dave Hough build him a couple of 392 Chrysler Hemis for the Vega and noted he was one of the last to run that setup. Rick ran match races and the occasional national event plus some Coke Circuit races. Chavez said he was going to step up to a late model iron Keith Black Hemi but a severe fire ended his career. Rick’s biggest success in drag racing was setting top speed at a Tulsa event. (Photo courtesy of Lyle Greenberg: information from Rick Chavez)

The team of Dean Rowley and Gordon Fabeck is best remembered for their Top Fuel car and for reaching the finals of the Winternationals in 1978. Team owner Dean Rowley was from Estacada , Oregon , and driver was Gordon Fabeck was from Bush Prairie, Washington. The Rowley and Fabeck team also forayed into the funny car wars with this Al Swindahl Monza. Other drivers for the car included Gary Saindon and Frank Hall. The team did not race the Keith Black powered Monza AA/FC much, and Rowley got out of racing in 1979. This photo was taken in the pits of Portland International Raceway, home of the famed 32 Funny Cars race held each year. The Monza was sold to fellow Northwest racer Nick Harmon who relettered the car and kept racing it into the 1980 season. The team’s Top Fueler was sold to the team of Cork & Miller. (Photo courtesy of Rick Bailey and www.capracing.com; information from Phil Elliott, Larry Nail, and Draglist.com files)

The focus of this entry is not the very familiar car in the near lane, but the lesser known car in the far lane. The Golden Nugget name had been used by Ron Potter earlier in the decade, but Bob Horn brought it back with this Monza . The Golden Nugget was a line of travel trailers, as was Hop Cap, which also appears on the car. The Golden Nugget Monza was a Romeo Palamides built piece that had current nitro chassis wiz Murf McKinney behind the wheel. The Monza had a known best of 6.66 in 1978 and raced into the 1979 season. Horn later raced a Top Alcohol Funny Car and McKinney continued as a hired gun for other owners before his chassis business really took off. (Photo courtesy of Mike Beach; information from Bret Kepner and Draglist.com files)

Dave Robinson was the owner of the low buck funny car called the Shake & Bake. There are stories about the lengths Robinson had to go to field a nitro car. Dave, who raced both dragsters and this funny car, had to scrounge to race with discarded and mismatched parts, and even filtering old unburned nitro to use. Robinson debuted this car in 1979 with his name on the side. A year later, he renamed it the Shake & Bake, a very apt funny car name. Former NHRA Springnationals national event champion Jeff Rapp drove the Arrow for Robinson, as did George Johnson in 1981. Robinson raced the car for the next couple of years until he retired from racing. Former Robinson crew member Kevin Lennon debuted a Shake & Bake replica in 2009 and continues to race in the Midwest . (Photo courtesy of Al Tracy; information from David Hapgood and Draglist.com files) 

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