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History Stock-S/S-F/X 1959-1966

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Race Artist, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    Finally the least known 1963 Ford LW on the team. # 151

    Sorry couldn't find any good photos of this least known version but it was either black or dark Blue.

    63 lw 151 history1.jpg

    63 lw 151 history2.jpg

    63 lw 151 history3.jpg

    Next up the FALCON
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  2. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    Onto the FALCON.



    The Specs.

    falcon3 specs.jpg

    falcon4 ownership a.jpg

    Owner list

    falcon4 ownership b.jpg



    With the T Bolt which is covered next





    to be continued
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  3. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    Falcon continued









    For Sale

    falcon20.jpg for sale.jpg

    And onto the T Bolt next and the last.
  4. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    And the best for last the "T Bolt" story.

    There is just some unknown "Draw" to the thunder bolt even die hard GM fans really would like to own one and their legend is still with us all these years later. Count me in on being a huge fan. Maybe it is the SOUND these monsters make ...when they fire up in the pits fan always start gravitating toward that sound.

    This history is on one of the few and one of the best. Dick Brannan /Romy Hammes

    Capture email.JPG

    tbolt1 see email.jpg

    The first cars were 427 cubic inch 1964 Fairlane 500 two door sedans of which Romy Hammes-Brannan had the first. The first cars were delivered to team members in late October 1963. The original cars were never delivered as, or named "Thunderbolts". The Thunderbolt name was suggested later for the team cars and all members liked the name. When Dearborn Steal started producing the cars as a Dealer offered option, the name stuck and the rest of the cars also became known as "Thunderbolts. The first ten cars were maroon and the rest (117) were white.
    Dick Brannan

    (The long version. There is always some questions in the T Bolt story and I have no secret answers I just find them and post them as they are printed.)

    Ford Tunderbolt Fairlane (1964); Thunderbolt Stormed In - In the early 1960's, success on the drag strips put the cars and their manufacturers in the limelight, which in turn bolstered sales to the performance market. Adopting the strategy "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday", Ford engineers initiated a plan to produce a limited number of Fairlanes that would meet NHRA weight restrictions to run in Super Stock class. In 1964, the first 427 Fairlane came off the production line and was dubbed a Thunderbolt. The Thunderbolt put Ford on the map as a contender in the drag racing arena, and it's visibility became the "bait" that brought the public into the showroom. In the hands of such famous drivers as Dick Brannan, Phil Bonner, Butch Leal and Gas Ronda, these Thunderbolts were deadly with Gas Rhonda winning the world championship points chase by a margin of more than double his nearest

    The engineers designed a new cylinder head for the Thunderbolt, the Hi-Riser, along with a special two four-barrel intake manifold that raised the port angle to give the fuel mixture almost a straight shot to the cylinder. This head/intake combination with an improved camshaft and high 13.5:1 compression put the power back in. But inserting the big motor into the lighter Fairlane intermediate required extensive and costly body and suspension modifications. Designers molded a lightweight front-end package from Fiberglass including front fenders and a hood with a special bubble to clear the Hi-Rise intake. The special design also included aluminum front bumpers, Plexiglas side windows, ram air induction via six-inch ducts from the high beam headlight gates and a heavy-duty trunk-mounted diesel truck battery. Additionally, the drag cars included lightweight front bucket seats and a
    rubber floor mat instead of carpet.

    Dick Brannan couldn't rest. Despite personally winning more than 65 races and setting 22 track records in 1963--including the first for a Ford in the NHRA's Super Stock class--the pressure-cooker of competition squeezed him.
    As head of Ford's Drag Team, he had to find new ways to keep Ford products competitive on the drag strip so, ultimately, Ford dealers could remain competitive in the marketplace. "The competition was changing overnight, almost," he said.

    Chevrolet had its Z-11 and some new "Mystery Motor" in the works. The Mopar guys had their own lightweights, a Stage III Max Wedge engine and, deep in the bowels of Chrysler, a new Hemi on the way.
    And new NHRA rules for 1964 would allow a engine with a 3,200-pound minimum weight. The Galaxies that the Drag Team had stuck with since the organization's inception had a 425hp V-8 in place for the 1963 cars, but try as they might, they could only come down to 3,425 pounds, or thereabout.
    "We just weren't going to be competitive," Brannan said.
    Rather than go bigger, though, Brannan went smaller.

    He joined Ford's Stock Vehicles Department in 1962, shortly after driving up to Detroit for a day and mopping the field with his Romy Hammes-sponsored 1962 Galaxie. Among that field ran two Ford test drivers, Bill Humphries and Len Richter, who tracked Brannan down to his hometown of South Bend, Indiana, and asked him first to spill his guts and later to coordinate Ford's drag-race activities.

    He had no special tricks, though--he simply applied what he knew about a car's mechanicals to the entire car, completely stripping it down before preparing it, leaving it within the rules, but giving it every possible advantage. Weight remained one of the most important of those advantages, and Brannan shaved it at every legal opportunity.
    He applied that method to the Ford factory lightweight Galaxies of 1962 and 1963. He ordered them without sound deadener and seam sealer. He had thinner side glass, aluminum front bumpers and inner fenders, fiberglass front fenders and trunk lids installed. He swapped lightweight bucket seats for the stock bench and a rubber mat for the carpeting. From the 3,615-pound shipping weight of a stock 1963 Galaxie 500 fastback, he had Les Ritchey's down to 3,510 pounds and Gas Ronda's to the aforementioned 3,425 pounds.

    He assembled a team of factory-backed racers, the Ford Drag Team, which included Ritchey, Ronda, Bob Tasca and his driver Bill Lawton, Phil Bonner, Ed Martin and Mickey Thompson--none of whom were slouches behind the wheel.
    He gave those racers the latest Ford high-performance engine, the 12.0:1 compression low-riser 425hp FE-series V-8, equipped with dual Holley four-barrel carburetors, in 1963. Combined with all the above, the lightweights earned time slips in the 12.40s, then in the 12.10s and as low as 12.03 seconds at York U.S. 30 in July.
    The competition kept up, though. The Melrose Missle III, a lightweight 1963 Plymouth with a 425hp 426 Max Wedge engine, took the 1963 NHRA Winternationals with a 12.37-second run and later that year set the NHRA Super Stock record with a run of 12 seconds flat. The 1963 Z-11 Chevrolets, which ran a W-engine and lightweight components similar to the Fords and Mopars, ran in the low 11-second range, with Malcolm Durham's Strip Blazer running 12.01 seconds its first time out.

    Tasca, of the famed Rhode Island dealership, though, earlier that year started to toy with a low-riser V-8 in a blue 1963 Fairlane 500 two-door hardtop. Word of the car got to Ford marketing manager Frank Zimmerman, who liked the concept.
    "Thanks to Bob Tasca, it was his car that gave reason to consider the Fairlane for the 1964 season," according to the Dick Brannan CD, Ford Drag Team: The Birth of Ford Factory Drag Team. "However, a company effort to produce enough units to satisfy the NHRA could be costly since the engine compartment barely allowed for the engine that came as standard."

    (this next part is news to me.)

    The Fairlane 500 made an excellent choice for 1964 as its shipping weight came in at 2,992 pounds for the hardtop and 2,913 pounds for the two-door post. Add in fluids and a driver and they'd weigh in right around the 3,200-pound minimum.
    "I actually ordered 10 two-door hardtops," Brannan said. "I knew the roofline on the hardtop was an inch and a half lower than the sedan and the windshield laid back further, like the convertible. It did weigh more, but not by much, and I felt the lower roofline would provide a faster top speed.

    "But people at the Ford division at the time didn't even realize the difference. So, when Vern Tinsler (who assisted Brannan on the project) put in the order, he figured the sedans were lighter, so he ordered them as such."

    The 10 Fairlanes, all sans radios, heaters, seam sealer and painted maroon, arrived at Dearborn Steel Tubing, the same company that converted the Galaxies to lightweight racers in 1962 and 1963.
    "When I went down there, they just told me to grab one and get started," Brannan said.

    He decided to start with one car to develop and test the drag transformation before applying those changes to the other nine. Though he left the rear seat in place, he added bucket seats from an Econoline van in place of the front bench; removed the rear side windows, backlight and rear crank mechanisms in favor of fixed Plexiglas rear side windows and backlight and replaced the door panels with ones without holes for the rear window crank and front armrest. He even removed the passenger side windshield wiper and sunvisor.

    He replaced the steel front fenders and hood with fiberglass versions, which concealed the high-riser 427--a new engine for 1964 that came with the same 425hp rating as the low-riser. To make room for the big FE engine, which "almost fit as it was," Brannan said, he first relocated the battery to the trunk, then had to cut the spring towers back to make room for the rocker arm covers.

    "The next task was to figure out how to put headers on it," Brannan said. "That was the biggest nightmare. We couldn't get them out (of the engine bay) in one piece, so we routed them through everything in the world, including the front suspension."

    Interestingly enough, the later production Thunderbolts shipped with headers that fed into a single exhaust, blowing through "a little bitty muffler that everybody took off," Brannan said.
    Because the cars all originally came with the 271hp 289, they had the Ford 9-inch rear axle and larger 10.5-inch front disc brakes. NHRA rules limited the cars to a 7-inch-wide rear tire.
    "A guy named James 'Hammer' Mason at Dearborn, he finished the first car," Brannan said. "Vern and I went out on our first run, and it sucked out the rear window, which went 50 feet into the air."
    Brannan clocked 12.26 seconds at 122 mph on that run, though.
    That evening and nearly every evening for the next three weeks, Brannan and Tinsler dropped the car off at Dearborn Steel with a note for Mason, letting him know what they broke, what to upgrade and what to alter. "He'd have it ready for us the next morning," Brannan said.
    Danny Jones also helped Brannan develop the car during that time and designed the crossbar in the rear suspension that kept both rear wheels planted.

    Many alterations that Brannan made to that first car made it to the other nine, but some didn't. For example, he cut out a portion of the firewall of the first car, figuring the large FE engine would require extra room both to fit and to provide access to work on the car. Yet he found cutting the firewall unnecessary afterward, so the rest of the cars did without it.
    Brannan also developed the first line-lock at about that time, using a modified Studebaker Hill Holder unit that he often saw in use during his younger days in South Bend. On that first car, he adapted one by cutting a hole in the firewall under the master cylinder.
    Once Dearborn Steel finished the other nine cars, Brannan, Tinsler and Jones introduced them to the Drag Team members on October 22, 1963, at the Ford test track across from the Stock Vehicle office in Dearborn. They told the Drag Team that even with the monster engines, the cars weighed in just a little less than 3,200 pounds, allowing for additional fuel, an NHRA-legal ballast. While the first two remained in the hands of the Stock Vehicle Department, Ford delivered the remaining eight to the Drag Team members a couple weeks later, then an eleventh car, with an automatic transmission, in December.
    At the time, though, none of the cars went by the name Thunderbolt. In fact, the car that Brannan would race, that first car that he used to develop the others, had "Lively One" lettered under the rear side glass. At some point over the next couple of months, the Drag Team and Ford settled on the Thunderbolt name and had graphics printed up for the cars.
    The cars also went through a few other changes during the last few months of 1963. Photos of the October introduction showed Brannan's car and a few others with cloverleaf hoods, but they would later appear with teardrop hoods. The first three or four, including Brannan's, also started life with fiberglass bumpers, Brannan said, but the NHRA told Ford no fiberglass bumpers in Super Stock, so Ford switched them over to aluminum. "When they all changed to aluminum, I changed mine too," Brannan said.
    Ford officials at first believed the NHRA would accept the 10 Thunderbolts as an acceptable homologation figure (despite the 50 scheduled lightweight Galaxies Ford built in 1963), but the NHRA demanded that Ford build at least 100 Thunderbolts--50 with manual transmissions, 50 automatics. And this before the 1964 NHRA Winternationals in February, when Brannan and Ford planned to introduce the Thunderbolts.

    "That's why everybody now says there were just 100 Thunderbolts," Brannan said. "But Hammer, Tinsler and I agree it was 127, all of them built at Dearborn Steel." Aside from the first 10, all came in white.

    At the Winternationals, the Thunderbolts made an awesome sound. Brannan beat Dave Strickler, driving the Dodge Boys Polara, with an 11.80-second run at 122.28 mph over Strickler's 12.03-second run at the same speed. He later recorded a 128 mph top speed, the highest speed in the Super Stock class, but lost in the semi-finals due to a clutch failure. However, Butch Leal, driving Mickey Thompson's first Thunderbolt, won the Super Stock class for the event.

    Over one weekend in June, Brannan took his car first to a Super Stock Bonanza at U.S. 30 Dragway in Gary, Indiana, to beat Arnie Beswick's Tempest with an 11.08-second run at 128 mph on Friday night. Saturday night, he traveled north to U.S. 131 in Martin, Michigan, to beat two Hemi-engined Dodges. Then on Sunday, he went back to Gary, where he ran an 11.30 in practice and an 11.29 in competition, but placed second to Tom Sturm in a Comet because he slid off the dragstrip.

    Brannan continued to race his Thunderbolt throughout the season, calling himself the world's fastest Ford, but realized part way through the summer that the Thunderbolts could not continue for the 1965 season. Both the hardtop and the post Fairlanes would increase in weight--by 77 and 84 pounds respectively--but more importantly, altered-wheelbase "funny cars" and the compacts that General Motors and Chrysler introduced earlier in the decade started to come on strong by 1964, prompting Brannan to turn his attention to the newly introduced Mustang, and the Falcon that Ford based it on, as a competitive platform.

    "After the season, Ford gave me the car for a dollar," Brannan said. "I had this car for a little while and maintained the Romy Hammes sponsorship."
    Brannan said he then sold the Thunderbolt in 1965 to Vaughn Kubert, a Michigan collector who also bought the Falcon that replaced Brannan's Thunderbolt and Brannan's 1963 lightweight Galaxie, then kept them for at least 10 years before selling the cars off.
    Another decade or so later, Mark Kuykendall of Ashville, North Carolina, set out to collect all of Brannan's early cars. According to Brannan, he found the 1962 lightweight Galaxie still on the road in Pennsylvania with a moonroof cut in it, the Falcon in Memphis, Tennessee, the 1963 lightweight elsewhere and the Thunderbolt in New York state.
    "He called me up one day and told me he had them," Brannan said. "It wasn't until then that I realized they had more potential than just the old race cars I thought of them as."
    Brannan authenticated the group at Kuykendall's request. He said he knew the Thunderbolt was genuine the moment he lifted the hood and saw the fan guard--when he owned it, he had the black fan guard chromed and stuck a gold-painted 427 bird emblem on it rather than the bird decal that the other Thunderbolts got. He also spotted the cutout in the cowl and the hole for the Hill Holder, both clear giveaways, and the Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed transmission, only installed on the first several Thunderbolts before Ford switched to the Toploader four-speed.

    Long read so here are some photos to look at LOL. :rolleyes:

    (not my book I have nothing to do with it.)


    From National Dragster this time with Bubble hood.

    tbolt national dragster1.jpg

    tbolt national dragster2.jpg

    tbolt history1.jpg

    tbolt history2.jpg

    As part of the deal with Ford to campaign the cars they had to report their results every Monday morning

    tbolt history3.jpg

    Note both cars had the original cloverleaf hoods

    tbolt history4 two cloverleafs.jpg

    With bubble hood



    On truck with Ronnie Sox Comet being towed

    tbolt5.jpg with ronnie Sox.jpg

    Beating the Ramchargers.



    With original cloverleaf hood.

    tbolt8.jpg cloverleaf.jpg

    The T bolt with it's brother Falcon

    tbolt9.jpg and falcon.jpg

    Well that brings the dick Brannan /Romy Hammes story to it's close.

    The next history will be Earl Wade in the corvette hot rods thread for you chevy fans.
  5. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    One of Gas Ronda’s first factory rides with Ford was this ’62 Galaxie, equipped with a 406-cid engine with tri-power carburetion. Ronda was one of the few Ford campaigners who could keep pace with Chevy’s powerful 409s.

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  6. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    Another History all about SS and FX classes from the NHRA viewpoint.

    The Factory Experimental classes, which began in 1962, were wilder versions of their Super Stock counterparts as factories were allowed to create one-of-a-kind combinations of big engines and smaller, lightweight bodies with a wide variety of performance-enhancing factory components. The stakes for factory domination of the dragstrip were so high that it was no surprise that the category had evolved into the altered-wheelbase Funny Cars by 1965. When the NHRA and the factories later wanted to return to racing cars that more closely resembled production vehicles, they used the basic rules for the 1964 A/FX entries as the guidelines for creating the Pro Stock category in 1970.

    Lots of station wagons in the early days. Teams thought the extra steel in the rear put more weight over the rear tires.

    email ss1.jpg

    Three Factory Experimental classes were introduced in 1962: A/FX, B/FX, and C/FX. The ultimate package in the early going was Pontiac’s A/FX Tempest, which featured the powerful 421-cid engine in the compact body. Hayden Proffitt’s Tempest won the A/FX class at the 1962 Winternationals, and the U.S. Nationals title went to the similar entry of Lloyd Cox (pictured).

    email ss 2.jpg

    Chrysler’s response to the 421 Tempest was the Golden Lancer, a ’62 Dart powered by a 413-cid wedge engine. It also was capable of mid-12-second clockings, which made it competitive with the Tempests.

    email ss3.jpg

    After a 406-cid Fairlane was raced in 1962, Ford stuffed a 427-cid engine in the midsize Fairlane body in 1963. Known as the Zimmy I ( never heard that, anyone?), it competed in A/FX and was the forerunner of the Ford '64 427 Thunderbolts, of which enough were built to make them legal for Super Stock competition that season.

    email ss4.jpg

    Chevrolet’s last official racing effort of the early 1960s was its ’63 Impalas equipped with the RPO Z-11 drag racing package. Only 57 of the cars were built, and they featured the fabled Z-11 engine, front-end body components made from 26-gauge aluminum, and many other factory high-performance options. Dave Strickler, shown beating "Dyno Don" Nicholson in A/FX competition at the 1963 Nationals, received the first Z-11 in December 1962.

    email ss5.jpg

    Pontiac produced seven Tempest coupes and six Tempest station wagons with 421-cid engines to compete in A/FX for 1963, and one of them was the Ace Wilson Royal Pontiac entry driven by Jim Wangers. All of the Tempests featured aluminum front fenders, hood, and bumpers and were capable of 11-second clockings.

    email ss6.jpg

    Former Chevy stalwarts Sox & Martin and Don Nicholson switched to Mercury in 1964, and here is Sox driving his 427-cid Comet coupe to a holeshot-aided 11.49 to 11.47 win over Nicholson’s 427-cid Comet wagon for the A/FX class trophy at the 1964 Winternationals. Because A/FX allowed the larger 10-inch tires, those drivers could launch at higher rpm without slipping the tires and were decidedly quicker than the Super Stock Ford Thunderbolts, which were restricted to 7-inch tires.

    email ss7.jpg

    View attachment 3342884

    Jack Chrisman was also given a factory Mercury Comet A/FX ride, but because the longtime dragster driver didn't have much experience with manually shifted four-speeds, he converted the car’s drivetrain to a direct-drive configuration and smoked the tires all the way down the track as an exhibition vehicle powered by a supercharged, nitro-burning engine.
    Couldn't bangshift??????????

    email ss9.jpg

    email ss8.jpg

    The Chrysler A/FX entries, bolstered by the release of the more powerful late-model Hemi in the spring of 1964, dominated class action at the U.S. Nationals. Dave Strickler, far lane, drove the dodge Boys entry, tuned by "The Grump" Bill Jenkins, to his second straight Indy A/FX title by defeating Tommy Grove's Melrose Missile Plymouth in the class final.

    email ss10.jpg

    The major brands focused primarily on A/FX for the 1965 season, choosing to build special limited packages for maximum performance. Ford fielded the potent Mustangs and Comets with the new, more powerful SOHC 427-cid engines, but when Chrysler countered with altered-wheelbase bodies, they were declared illegal by NHRA. Chrysler hastily prepared two Dodges and two Plymouths with allowable wheelbase dimensions for the 1965 Winternationals, where Bill Lawton’s Tasca Ford Mustang emerged as the Factory Experimental eliminator winner.

    email ss11.jpg

    Ford also made its presence known in the other FX categories with such entries as Bill Hoefer’s lightweight C/FX Galaxie with a 289-cid Ford Cobra engine that was runner-up in Street eliminator at the 1965 Winternationals.

    email ss12.jpg

    Butch Leal made an exhibition run at the 1965 Winternationals with his altered-wheelbase Plymouth. Because the radical entries, which were quickly dubbed Funny Cars, were illegal for NHRA competition, they raced on the match race trail in 1965 and quickly caught the attention of the fans. With the introduction of nitromethane, fuel injection, and eventually superchargers, the cars dipped well into the eight-second zone, which essentially put an end to the A/FX era.

    email ss13.jpg

    When the nation’s top Super Stock drivers began racing on a heads-up basis again in match races, they basically adhered to the 1964 A/FX rules of 427-cid engines, 3,000-pound minimum weight, and other regulations that were ultimately used to create the Pro Stock category in 1970.

    email ss14.jpg
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2016
  7. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    Found these Fords while getting info for a Earl Wade super chevy mechanic article LOL

    Dyno Don













    At the Nationals 1961

    nationals 1961 1.JPG

    nationals 1961 2.JPG
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  8. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    Ace Wilson "Royal Pontiac"

    ace_wilson royal pontiac.jpg
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  9. theamcguy
    Joined: May 7, 2009
    Posts: 226


    Fantastic pictures. Thank you for posting.
    els likes this.
  10. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    You will be glad to know that Earl Wade the super mechanic I was finding out about when I found theses actually was involved in AMC funny cars for awhile. Story upcoming in awhile LOL.
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  11. WerbyFord
    Joined: Nov 4, 2011
    Posts: 107


    I am trying to find the MPH that Brannan turned when he set the 12.42 record on 13 Jul 63. The 12.42 is all over the place but I cant find the MPH for that run anywhere! Any ideas?
    All these next ones are the cars that he or somebody had to beat to be national winner. And did LOL
    loudbang likes this.
  12. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    Don't know but will keep an eye out for it.
    els likes this.
  13. biscaynes
    Joined: Mar 16, 2008
    Posts: 1,648


    great info, thanks for all that loudbang! :)
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  14. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    Well these time slips for the 12.50 range had to be pretty close and the MPH is like 115 but then get a slower 12.52 and it jumps to 123??

    els likes this.
  15. c-10 simplex
    Joined: Aug 24, 2009
    Posts: 1,330

    c-10 simplex

    Would modern day pro stocks/super stocks etc. benefit from moving both axles forward?
  16. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    Not much due to the vastly improved slicks and track prep which was unheard of back at the beginning
    els likes this.
  17. WerbyFord
    Joined: Nov 4, 2011
    Posts: 107


    I saw those, they're in the range for sure but I was looking for the one that went with the record at York, PA - that's probably the ONE run Brannan made that gets talked about and we know the car was NHRA legal. A lot of the others he ran milled heads, or 390HP heads, or air tubes. Theyre all in the 116-121.6 mph range (except for that 123+, cant explain that one without a stiff tailwind!), Ive been all thru his runs from the excellent JerryHammes site:

    Even the 121.62 mph, that jives with the Gonkulator given the milled heads and air tubes and just assuming cool weather (March). But the 12.42 record was York, PA, July13 - everybody quotes a "hot day", I looked up York, PA weather and that sure jives. I remember Michigan in July, Milan might be 60F but also might be 95F and sticky hot, just a matter of luck. The 12.42 kinda goes with a hot slick track. And from another hint - this link:,+Mr.+Smart

    Kinda of a "spirited" discussion on another topic, but notes that the MPH record in July, 1963 was a Max Wedge at 117.34, so I figure Brannan's 12.42 MPH had to be less than that else he would have got the MPH record as well.

    Closest run I can make in the Gonkulator is
    12.42 at 116.8
    So that is my best guess and goes with the above.
    BTW thanks for all the excellent stuff you post, brings back a lot of memories and some I was too young to be there for.
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  18. WerbyFord
    Joined: Nov 4, 2011
    Posts: 107


    While we are at this:
    What happened to the 1963 Super Duty Cats?
    I know there were 14 Swiss Cheese Cats, at 3300 lb these ran in A/FX, and could be ballasted/fattened to 3790 lb for B/FX.
    But there were 42 total "aluminum" Super Duty Cats, including the Swiss Cheese cars. Does that mean the Aluminum NON-Swiss Cats were NHRA Legal for A/S ? Or S/S ?
    For that matter, were the all-steel Super Duty Cats legal for NHRA A/S ?

    I'm asking because on the NHRA site now, 1963 stops with the 421/370 HO - no 421/405 listed, no aluminum Cats listed.

    And digging around, I cant find any NON-Swiss 1963 SuperDuty Cats timeslips in NHRA. Did anybody run those cars or were they legal?
  19. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    I have read that the swiss cheese frames didn't take the strain of drag racing very well and had to be replaced so not too many survive to this day in original form.
    els likes this.
  20. WerbyFord
    Joined: Nov 4, 2011
    Posts: 107


    I think we figured it out over on ClassRacer.

    There were about 74 SuperDuty 1963 Catalinas, but only 23 of the same ENGINE and MODEL from the FACTORY. 23 Cat Hardtops with the 421/410hp, which is less than then NHRA minimum of 50.

    If not for the GM racing ban I bet Pontiac would have filled out at least 50 of the class to make em legal.

    Ironically, had there been 50 Swiss Cheese Cats instead of 14, they might have been legal but only with a 389-2bbl as that's how they left the factory. OK mystery solved sort-of.
    loudbang likes this.
  21. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    The history of RAMCHARGERS dodges vs GOLDEN COMMANDOS plymouths.

    A bit of reading to tell the story if you don't like to read scroll down to the photos.

    Ramchargers vs Golden Commandos! The Back Story Revealed!


    And it was from the crucible of the engine’s formation, Chrysler Engineering’s offices in Highland Park, Michigan and the company’s nearby plants and facilities, that gave birth to a unique, indeed unparalleled rivalry in the drag car ranks. Two clubs of car enthusiasts, one focused primarily on Dodge and the other on the sister Plymouth brand, raced both each other and the national scene in drag racing. After a couple of years in the mix, the Ramchargers and Golden Commandos both began their legacy building in that inaugural summer of Hemi horsepower, and both succeeded in leaving a mark on the history of stock-bodied drag racing as a result.

    Ramcargers first up

    The late Tom Hoover was one of the Ramchargers, which consisted primarily of like-minded engineering guys from the company—Mike Buckel, Jim Thornton, Dick Maxwell, John Werley, and others. These guys had no greater love than solving challenges and then going out to steamroller the competition.
    The late Mr. Thornton deserves credit for the parts package these cars ended up with. Noted in paperwork as business coupes since the rear seat was removed for the first time, the bare-basic cars featured more aluminum than the late-1963/1964 model year Max Wedges had offered. The FX Dodge was constructed as a Max Wedge body and had the front and rear wheels moved forward to facilitate weight transfer, a legal change in the experimental ranks.
    Only the 330 Dodge and Plymouth Savoy sedans were allowed a Hemi installation from the factory for its Spring introduction. Conversely, 1964-model Maxies had run the gamut of two-door body offerings. As a result, it is here that the Commandos car made a unique impression on Guffey and the Hemi-engine weight theory.
    “The aluminum doors on that Golden Commandos car were one of the only sets ever made that we know of,” he says. “Since the sedans were used for the packages, those hardtop doors are unique.”


    The Commandos were led for the most part by Ray Kobe, a fuel specialist at the company. In 1962, they elected to go with Plymouth, as the Ramchargers, thanks to some sponsorship help, were already solidly in the Dodge camp. The Commandos would probably be considered more “traditional” hot rodders; these were factory dyno operators Forrest Pitcock and Troy Simenson, mechanic John Dallafior, engine man Steve Baker, and others. The Rams called them the Commodes, and the Commandos occasionally picked up on the nickname Rumchasers, but in-house on work days it was all hands on deck for issues like the challenges going into the Daytona 500 when there were multiple test engine failures. Both teams could score inside-track resources even if the corporate purse strings were tied (neither team ever had true factory backing, simply factory access).

    Regardless, there was a third person who ended up in this whole mix, former corporate lawyer Elton “Al the Lawman” Eckstrand. Eckstrand did executive-level fiduciary and estate work across the top of the Big Three; his phone calls ALWAYS got answered upstairs. After winning the 1963 Winternationals driving for the Ramchargers (and securing some sponsorship money that went into his own bank account), the Rams managed to extricate themselves from his services and Mr. Eckstrand became a free agent in mid 1963, going to Plymouths.

    After hearing about the new adjusted wheelbase vehicle going only to four select teams (and doing abortive testing efforts himself in one of them prior to the 1964 Winternationals, when the Ramchargers team images accompanying this story were taken), he used his boardroom prowess to get the car that had been slated for the Golden Commandos for himself in the spring of 1964, with famed customizers Alexander Brothers getting the unique vehicle ready for him.

    Damage done, the Commandos were offered a mild if unsatisfactory appeasement of getting one of the first drag Hemi Super Stock installations into their present team car, a Max Wedge hardtop body, which is why Guffey believes they also got the special one-off hardtop doors as well. Built as a Max Wedge in late 1963, it was numbered 712, with Pitcock and Dallifor sharing most of the weekend driving duties.
    “There is no question that the Commandos were supposed to get the car Eckstrand ended up with,” notes Guffey. “I am guessing that when member Bill Shirey left Commandos the team with his car, which was Golden Commandos car #4, 712 was a number Shirey had gotten from NHRA, because this former Max Wedge car was GC #5 and became #635. GC#6 was the Hemi Savoy they got in May.”

    The hardtop would seal the team’s most notable effort that year, and Pitcock’s driving legacy, when it won a notorious “dollar-a-foot” blowout eliminator at Detroit Dragway’s World Championships in August, the weekend before NHRA Nationals. This was a flat-weight, pump race fuel, run-whatcha-brung deal. After shutting down the other big names there, Pitcock drew Dyno Don Nicholson’s feared Comet Caliente in the final, a factory-helped A/FX 427 high-riser beast that was looking to burn a Hemi for the big bucks, especially one with reputed factory connections.

    Alas, for star Nicholson, it was not to be; the ‘tree had broken just before the eliminator run, replaced by a single-yellow/green layout, and Pitcock took off for 1,320 feet at the right moment once it was activated. Meanwhile, the white Mercury sat impotently on the line, with Nicholson angrily getting out and saying Pitcock HAD to have redlit. Former NHRA man and then-current Dirty D director Ed Eaton told Dyno, “sorry, pal, YOU LOSE!” and was unmoved even after a thousand Ford partisans poured onto the starting line in protest. Pitcock was legal at the scales and in the fuel beaker, and the rest, as they say, was history.

    The Ramchargers were there too, and kept up the pressure with their NHRA program. They had run their two Hemi sedans (one the wheelbase-modified FX-type match racer and the other the Super Stock mule for the A864 production run) through the spring and summer, setting track records and shutting down the competition.

    Still for many, the team’s so-called 1964 altered car was this season’s big deal. After all, these changes are what blew out into full-out funny cars in early 1965 when Thornton & Co. took chassis reworking to the extreme. The Rams had both stockers and their AA/FD nitro dragster at the ’64 Nationals. Dave Strickler eventually won a satisfying A/FX class crown in the similarly-modified Dodge sedan he was racing with partner Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins that season. In SS/A, the Rams won class over GC #5, and runner-uped to Roger “Color Me Gone” Lindamood in Stock Eliminator on Monday. They rolled up for a then-allowed last-day record run to hit 130 mph, a huge speed for a stocker in 1964.

    A new year brought new cars; Eckstand once said, “old cars are like old girlfriends; lots of fun when you wanted them around, but after that, you didn’t plan to see them again….” He got himself the pilot job for the Commandos team for the new season, and the special hardtop Commandos ride went to the Midwest to become the poker-monikered “Shoot, You’re Faded” entry by early 1965. Sometime later that year, this car was given all the 1965-type wheelbase changes when the entry was campaigned by Harry Baker Motors. The Rams FXer went to West Virginia’s Eddie Smith, who went the full 1965 altered-wheelbase route with it. It should be remembered that the new 1965 NHRA all-steel Stock-class body rules instantly outlawed all the aluminum parts. As a consequence, lots of Mopars and fiberglass Fords (and a handful of GMs) from 1963 and 1964 became match racers in the 1965 season.

    Seen here during class eliminations, the FX Dodge was also at Indy in 1964; Dave Strickler won the crown, but this car was the first Hemi out on the strip. Ramchargers AFX Dodge Vs Melrose Missile Class Run Indy Nationals 1964.


    Here is the only lightweight hardtop Hemi running in 1964, classified in SSA like the A864 package sedans. The factory also released a handful of steel-nosed cars to fulfill the outstanding orders. Golden Commandos 1964 Hemi A864 Hardtop Indy Nationals.


    Tim Baker driver, Harry Baker Motors, after Indy, GC #5 was sold at the end of the season, unneeded since the team made use of both an acid-dipped 1965 body and the 1965 altered wheelbase factory mule. The car was modified for match-racing by early 1966. Golden Commandos 1964 Hemi Harry Baker Motors Dealership 1966


    Note driver smoking a stogie, This panned image from a vintage print shows the true amount of wheelbase modification. The FX cars engaged in fierce battles with Mercury’s big-dollar Comets and a handful of Mustangs before the end of 1964. 1965 would be a whole different story. Ramchargers 1964 Afx Pass Hemi.


    The Ramchargers likewise sold their 1964 cars to make room for their 1965 altered. The car went to Eddie Smith, who had the Alexander Brothers custom shop near Detroit convert it. It is seen here in a newspaper story circa 1967, doing the job! 010 1964 Ramchargers Afx Converted 1965 Awb Eddie Smith 1967.


    This image shows team members Dante “Dan” Mancini and Herman Moser following the installation of the first Hemi for testing in the FX car. Note the car is using the Carter carbs here. Holley would soon be chosen instead, and the eventual Super Stock packages would use them as well. Ramchargers A/FX 1964 Hemi Conversion Carter Carbs.


    Here is the engine in the restored Golden Commandos Super Stock; note the details like the correct chrome coil, steel fuel filters, and screen-covered carb air horns. The Holleys proved to be a better choice on the crossram, though Carters were back on the Hemi for the A102 street release in 1966. Golden Commandos 1964 Hemi Intall Holley Carbs.


    One of the unique items on the Golden Commandos was a tiedown with a welded-on washer to allow the hood to be locked. Hemi cars did not get hinges but used four of these aircraft-type aluminum wingnut-stud assemblies. Golden Commandos 1964 Hemi Hood Lock.


    The 1964 Hemi cars were noted as business coupes in paperwork submitted to NHRA since they lacked a back seat; this panel was used to cover the opening up. Golden Commandos 1964 Hemi Back Seat Panel.


    continued below.
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  22. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    Another look at the Ramchargers new 426 Hemi engine in the FX car according to the film jacket it was found in, this image is dated February 10, 1964, an amazing find since it predates the final iteration of the block for Daytona that same month. Ramchargers A/FX 1964 Hemi Dodge Engine Install.


    This shot, taken during the early February shoot while the team was testing for Pomona on the west coast, shows the FX car up on a lift and the first-ever set of Hemi drag racing headers. Note the capped-off cutouts and single exhaust pipe. These were the first tubular pipes set up for this engine beyond NASCAR versions, which were unmuffled.



    The team must have brought a new crated engine out as well; it doesn’t look like the intake had been installed yet. Here is the side we all want to see—a casting date of 12-20-63 means this engine and the one in the car were indeed done prior to the stronger 02-02-64 castings the NASCAR teams used with great success.


    Another trick to help gauge wheelspin was to paint half the rim on the rear wheel so that observers could tell if the car was losing traction at the start. A neat touch graphically was to use the same orange color seen on the body graphics.


    Note no Park Lever it has been removed. Referred to by the old-timers as the “typewriter,” this push-button shifter on the left side of the dash was part of every automatic Hemi model built in 1964.


    Ramchargers A/FX Dodge Single Run Indy Nationals 1964.


    Ramchargers A/FX 1964 Hemi Hood February 1964 California.


    Spare A/FX block


    Ramchargers A/FX 1964 Hemi Dodge Engine Install 1


    Ramchargers A/FX 1964 Hemi Dodge Engine Install 2

    Last edited: Nov 3, 2016
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  23. Finn Jensen
    Joined: Dec 20, 2008
    Posts: 648

    Finn Jensen

    Great stuff Loudbang, thanks. I read the book "We were the Ramchargers," but you pointed out several items not covered in the book.
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  24. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    The first professional race car for Al and Ellen Hanna was the 1966 Ford Fairlane "Hemi hunter" running in the Super Stock B class.

    The first professional race car for.jpg
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  25. the ram chargers 64 hemi car is currently under restoration. it will be completed soon.
  26. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    Local Chevy dealer Jay Shon Chevrolet sponsored their employee, Wayne Sparks and his beautiful 68 Camaro Super Stocker. Wayne was a great mechanic and was one of few people in the area that could tune the early Chevy Injection.

    Local Chevy dealer Jay Shon Chevrolet sponsored their employee,.JPG
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  27. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    Kind of hard where to put this history but he was most famous for his 1962 SS/S Ford galaxie so here it is.

    The Jack Hohl short history.

    Veteran engine builder Jack Hohl of Riverside, OH, who was one of the best in western Ohio. Not only was Hohl an engine builder, but he spent much of his time behind the wheel in competition.

    Hohl, known for his Ford expertise, was interested in being an engine tech from his early teens and had a license when he was only 14. “My mom knew I was really interested in cars and she bought me a service manual during that time. I remember reading it cover-to-cover and sucking up all the information.”

    One of his first cars was a 239 Flathead powered ‘46 Ford Convertible. “It was my first serious engine build which I bored and stroked to about 286 cubic inches. I added three two-barrel Stromberg carbs, 9-1 Edelbrock aluminum heads, and headers.

    I tried four carbs, but determined that was just too much airflow. It had a top speed of about 80 mph. Back in those days I was tuning my engines for max rpm at about 5500 rpm.”

    Note only three carbs the chrome dome in the front was for the oil fill tube.

    Jack Hohl\'s flatty.jpg

    “The next project was a ‘53 Ford with the same type engine, but it was a lot easier to work on. I bored it to a 3 3/8 bore and 4 1/8 stroke which equated to about 301 cubic inches. It was pushing 90 mph at drag strips in Moline, IL and Akron, OH. But again, there was no ET data available.”

    A 1955 272 cid Y-block powered Ford came next. “I wasn’t very pleased with that engine, but it was better than the smaller Flathead. It wouldn’t perform without a supercharger. I installed a McCullough blower, but had a head gasket problem.”

    Jack Hohl\'s 272 y block duals.jpg

    Jack hohl\'s 272 y block duals 1.jpg

    A huge step-up occurred in 1957 when Hohl acquired a 300hp supercharged 312 Ford. It was a rare engine and was used with NASCAR for a short time before being outlawed.

    “I loved the engine and immediately tried to increase its performance. I installed a Ford ‘C’ cam and with the help of (Indy 500 star) Troy Ruttman, doctored up the blower which kicked the horsepower up to about 325. It could really run!”

    Late 1950s drag racing. That’s Jack in the lead in his ‘57 supercharged Ford in front of a 1957 injected Chevy

    Late 1950s drag racing. That’s Jack in the lead in his ‘57 supercharged Ford..JPG

    Hohl ran and tuned the car for four years and won Super Stock titles at Indy Raceway Park, Kil-Kare Dragway (Ohio), Detroit Dragway, Thornhill Dragway in Kentucky, along with Edgewater and DAHIO both in Ohio. “I beat a bunch of ‘57 injected Chevys during the period and they sure didn’t like that! Most of the time I was right at 100 mph at the finish.”

    In the early 1960s, Hohl got into big block Ford performance with a 405 horse ‘62 406 Tri-Power Galaxie. Hohl massaged it to put out an additional 20 or 30 horses. The Galaxie won an NHRA Super Stock title in Detroit and was runner-up at Indy.

    Jack Hohl's 62 406 trips. Three two-barrel carbs sit atop this 406 Ford. With that engine under the hood, Hohl won the Detroit Dragway Super Stock title and was second at Indy.

    Jack Hohl\'s 62 406 trips. Three two-barrel c.JPG

    Jack Hohl\'s 62 Galaxie.jpg

    There was also an interesting time when Hohl was asked to work on a Chrysler 300D that was apart of the famous ‘77 Sunset Strip’ TV show starring Ed Burnes.

    Would you believe that it had a pair of 6.71 blowers, one on each side of the engine. “That was a lot of fun.”

    Well, there it is, the 77 Sunset Strip Chrysler 300D with its pair of 6.71 blowers.



    Veteran NHRA drag racer Ed Crowder fondly remembers Hohl’s engine building skills.

    “I was preparing to run the 1959 Daytona Flying Mile on the beach,” he says. “I let him work on my ‘57 Chevy Fuelie. I was really amazed that it ran like heck and I finished second in class at 129.363 mph. One thing about Jack when he took on a job, he’d just lay back and think about exactly what he was going to do. Then he would do it.”

    Hohl ran his shop from 1957 to 1971 with many drag racers knowing the exact way to get there. But, during the period, there was also another Ford engine builder of some note, one ‘Ohio George’ Montgomery. The two FoMoCo experts worked with each other on occasion. Montgomery did machining for Hohl.

    Montgomery explained, “Jack was an Old School guy who worked hard at what he did. There were times when we shared ideas with each other.”

    Hohl didn’t just understand the innards of an engine, he knew the complete workings of the powertrain. Several former customers noted that Hohl could really calibrate the rear end to maximize the performance in the quarter mile. One Chevy owner indicated that Hohl was able to cut a half-second off his ET.

    When asked whether he had ever thought about being a member of a factory drag team he said, “You know, there was a time that might have been. I once had an opportunity to meet a Ford rep with the Tasca Ford Pro Stock Team. While I was waiting to see him, I watched some of the Tasca mechanics working an engine and I helped them.” “Then I told the rep that his guys weren’t too sharp, “ Hohl continued. “It made him mad and he told me to take off. I have thought about that through the years and wondered what might have been. I should have kept my mouth shut!”
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  28. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012



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  29. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    Ronnie Sox early days

    Ronnie Sox 1964 Mercury Comet..jpg
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  30. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 33,012


    Al Corda SS convert

    Al Corda SS convert.JPG

    Al Eckstrand 1964 Chrysler Plymouth SS/A The Lawman.

    Al Eckstrand 1964 Chrysler Plymouth SSA The Lawman..jpg

    Again different car


    Lee Chevrolet 66 396 ElCamino

    Lee Chevrolet 66 396 ElCamino.JPG

    BTS SS/H Mimi

    BTS SSH Mimi.JPG

    Charger 1964

    Charger 1964.jpg

    Dale Mineer Miss Coronet SS/CA

    Dale Mineer Miss Coronet SSCA.JPG

    Hayden Proffit Pickup

    Hayden Poffit Pickup.jpg

    Mr Norm 1965 II Mr Norm Grand Spaulding Dodge Coronet SFX Mystery Tornado

    Pontiac GTO

    Mr Norm 1965 II Mr Norm Grand Spaulding Dodge Coronet SFX Pontiac GTO.jpg

    Phil Bonner's S.O.H.C 427 powered Falcon

    Phil Bonner\'s S.O.H.C 427 powered Falcon.png



    Thweatts Auto Dodge Corenet

    Thweatts Auto Dodge Corenet.jpg
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
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