story by Stewart Pomeroy (except as noted); photos by Joe Pappas and Dick Oldfield
The name echoes through the minds of people familiar with the early years of Pro Stock racing.
Only three cars can be called “The Missile.” Ted Spehar and his gang built and raced a 1970/71 Challenger, a 1972 ’Cuda, and my all-time passion, a 1972/73 Duster. During the dawn of stock racing, they had more launches down the drag strip than any other cars. Testing, innovation, hard work, and long hours were the norm. To paraphrase another famous gentleman, “Never have so few done so much, with so little, for so many.”
These pictures are dedicated to all the people involved, including Tom Hoover, Ted Spehar, Al Adams, John Baumann, Leonard Bartush, Don Carlton, Tom Coddington, Ron Killen, and two of my favorite people, Joe Pappas and Dick Oldfield, who I also want to credit for sharing these photos. Without these photographic records, the behind-the-scenes history would be lost.
This second Missile car (after a Dodge Challenger) was campaigned for one year, then sold to Mike Fons, who raced it for a while, and, in the words of Joe Pappas, “put it on the roof one time in Milwaukee, and eventually sold it to some guys in Canada, where it still is today.”
As of 2004, the Plymouth Barracuda was sitting under a tarp in Ottawa, where it had been for at least ten years. Dick Oldfield visited in 2003 and, after shoveling around three feet of snow off the car, was able to verify that it is indeed the ’Cuda. It was in pretty bad shape.
IT consultant and reader Ryan contacted us in 2014 to let us know that one of his clients had rescued the car, and had started to restore it in 2013. From all indications, the restoration has proceeded well, with the car restored to its original appearance.
Drag RacersThe Dodge Ramchargers: Dodge Employee-Racers
The Golden Commandos: Plymouth Employee-RacersMike Buckel: Ramcharger recollections (the 1960s in detail: series)The Dodge Chargers drag-racing team
Don Garlits, racing legend and innovator (interview)Bill "Maverick" Golden, successful racer and original wheelstanderDon Prudhomme: record setter “the Snake” interviewed, 2013Ellis Brasher's early Hemi drag racing
Rich Fox’s cars, including a record-setting four-cylinder 1932 Plymouth
Don “The Beachcomber” JohnsonBruce Lindstrom: a man and his Goldfish2011 Drag Racing Hall of Fame Reunion in HendersonWe Were The Ramchargers
The Little Red Wagon - first wheelstander
The High & Mighty — original funny carDodge Pro Stock second generation Hemi 99 (2006)
Firebrewed 1965 Coronet funny car, in 2011
NHRA in 2010: Pomona Winternationals |
The Golden Commandos’ GoldfishThe Pro Stock Hemi Neon - busily setting records
Chrysler racing contract, 1969-1970
Daily-driver Road Runner vs 300C SRT-8 on the strip
Mopar Missile, Motown Missile
History of the Mopar Missile - interview with the car’s historian
Mopar Missile builder and mechanic Joe Pappas (2009 interview)
Motown Missile and Sox & Martin Duster: match racing in 2009
Mopar Missile Aero Tests (1973) - numerous photos, including driver’s perspective
Night of Fire with the Mopar Missile (2009) with Ben Donhoff interview
Testing hood scoops for the Mopar Missile - 1970s photo essay
Motown Missile: 1972 Plymouth ’Cuda factory drag racer
“Wire Car” - ultra-lightweight 1974 Plymouth Duster drag car
Town & Country, 1942-84
Creating the Viper and Prowler
All Mopar Car and Truck News
Chrysler 300 Letter Cars
The Engine Cleanup Committee