The Motown Missile and the Sox & Martin Duster Return After 35 Years
Editor’s note: plans for this series were dropped. This page is being retained to show what was planned.
The Motown Missile and Sox & Martin Duster were successful drag racing cars in the 1970s — and soon, they will be back on the strip. Their owners will make a (possibly) once in a lifetime tour of the country for a charity (soon to be determined), exhibition-racing and match-racing the restored Pro Stock cars.
In the 1970s, the Pro Stockers were driven by Dick Oldfield, Mike Fons, Don Carlton, Kenny Hahn, and others, under the leadership of Tom Hoover.
Motown Missile owners Kevin Christner and Arnie Klann, and Sox & Martin Duster owner Fred Ristagno, will be touring through 2009. In addition to piloting the cars, they have planned special matches such as:
- Joe Pappas vs “Hemi” Fred Ristagno
- and about a 50% chance Mike Fons himself is going to drive at least once.
Fred Ristagno has one of the Sox & Martin cars; Arnie Klann has the original 1971 Motown Missile Challenger and the wire car, and is campaigning a Missile-branded Neon dragster which will also go on tour. Kevin originally bought his Motown Missile as an investment, recognizing it was a part of history; he was thinking he’d sell it, at first, but then the Mopar bug bit, and he found himself spending 25 hour weeks restoring the car, and now says he wouldn’t think about selling it. Kevin was impressed with the helpfulness and enthusiasm of the Mopar community, and looks forward to meeting more people on tour.
Kevin and Fred first met at the Hemi Reunion, then at the Henderson Reunion, where they raced against each other; everyone loved the idea of more match races, including numerous track owners, but the schedule won’t be confirmed until at least January 2009. No contracts have been signed yet, but there has been a lot of enthusiasm. For example, Bob George, of Pittsburgh Raceway Park, has talked about featuring the Missiles at the Curt George Memorial Race in June. That date is almost certain; another likely date is the Columbus Chrysler Classic in May.
If you want to race the authentic Motown Missile, you may get a chance to do it. Plans include having a raffle or auction (or both) for an IHRA/NHRA-sanctioned driver to take part in a match race. (We’d say “to win a match race,” but while that would be correct for a raffle, it might not happen on the strip.) Many racers have shown a serious interest, and thousands of dollars could be raised for charity.
Plans are to do 3-5 appearances before the start of the racing season, take some time off, and go back on the road for the end of the season. Kevin said he hoped that all of the team could get together, perhaps in Ohio’s Mopar Nationals, for a combined event.
Allpar has posted an interview with Motown Missile historian Stewart Pomeroy, and will post an interview with Kevin next week as part of a series on the Motown Missile then and now.