The Motown Missile: 1972 Plymouth Barracuda drag car
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.