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Chrysler in the TransAM series

Discussion in 'Historical' started by Beentherebefore, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. Beentherebefore

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    Not a very flattering article about the Chrysler program, but interesting nevertheless. I only followed this series peripherally so if anyone has any beefs about the accuracy of what's in this article, please take it up with the author.



    http://www.transamcuda.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1044250479

    PS I did see Bob Tullius racing his Dart once in some type of a sports car race which was held in, of all places, the parking lot of the old Candlestick Park in San Francisco. He was running in a group/class that was several down from the top (fastest) cars which probably would be the prototype class today.
     
  2. MoparNorm

    MoparNorm Active Jeeper
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    That reminded me that there were also races in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium, in the 1960's. might have been the same series???
     
  3. JavelinAMX

    JavelinAMX Well-Known Member

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    Chrysler waited so very long to finally commit to the Series, it was all but burned out when they got there.

    Likely would've been better to field Challenger or Barracuda in the series instead of both. My guess is their effort was diluted.

    Can't recall if either of the two cars won a race.
     
  4. Beentherebefore

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    I think that the best that they did was 2nd place in the era when all the 4 factories were involved. I saw a summary of the results from the series races a while back on the net but can't find it right now to link. You probably can find it through a thorough Google search. Bob Tullius won multiple times in his '64 Dart, but I believe that was before the series was actually named "TransAm". According to the article, Chrysler had the Plym and Dodge teams compete with each other for factory funds - not a good formula for having one concentrated effort to go after the other factory backed brands.

    I also found this - a book written about the history of the Trans Am series, if you are interested. Nice picture on the cover of them in the famous "Corkscrew" @ Laguna Seca raceway.

    books?id=izsekDhTLxMC&pg=PA37&lpg=PA37&dq=Chrysler+in+Trans+Am+series&source=bl&ots=S2wRViX5Ce&
     
  5. Beentherebefore

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    Sorry.....bad link. Try this one;


    google.com/books?id=izsekDhTLxMC&pg=PA37&lpg=PA37&dq=Chrysler+in+Trans+Am+series&source
     
  6. Beentherebefore

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    Here's a related story. After Chrysler signed Dan Gurney up for their Trans Am program, they asked him to race for them @ Riverside in the "Motor Trend 500" in January, 1970. Gurney had already won the race 4 or 5 times in a Woods Bros Ford and Chrysler was dying to win the race in the largest car market in the US. The car (picture below) was provided by the Pettys and they also provided the pit crew. The car was painted in Gurney's colors. The car dominated in practice and sat on the pole by over a full second. We SoCal Mopar fans were pretty excited that we were finally going to see a Mopar win @ that track and finally see Ford get knocked off it's perch @ Riverside. Gurney pulled away as soon as the green flag fell and led for awhile. Alas, there were some non-fatal problems causing him to have to pit at least one extra time and he ended up only finishing 6th. Unfortunately for us, the race was won by AJ Foyt.......in a Ford.

    The car was taken back to the Petty shops, repainted as the #40, and was driven by Pete Hamilton for the rest of the year.


    [​IMG]
     
  7. JavelinAMX

    JavelinAMX Well-Known Member

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    And not to be confused, there was the short lived 'Grand American stock car race' having the same competitors and brands and models. The NASCAR Pony Car series ( 'Baby Grand').
     
  8. Beentherebefore

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    Yes, I remember that but not much about the series. Any Mopars of note?
     
  9. JavelinAMX

    JavelinAMX Well-Known Member

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    I'd have to go through it page by page again, but don't remember anything outstanding by anyone. I heard, but don't know, that some of the cars were re-jiggered older Trans-Am cars which were made fit for NASCAR's version of the rules.
     
  10. Mike V.

    Mike V. Mopar-nac The Moderator
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  11. Beentherebefore

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    Thanks for those. I always enjoy reading the articles from reporters who were @ the event. I've got plenty of my own to post on the (main) Nascar Historical thread, but so far, there's no place to link attachments on that thread when I click on "More reply options". Is that just on my screen or everyones else's too? I'm trying to keep all the Nascar stuff on that one thread, but started the Historical Nascar II thread just to see if I could get any of my stuff to attach & post (it worked on that one). Any suggestions?


    I've seen the Gurney video before. It originally came off the Aero Warriors site where it's been for almost 10 years. I've linked it to some of the members here on other Nascar related threads. In case you haven't visited there............

    http://aerowarriors.com/

    Warning.................................................it'll take you about a week to get through it all. :lol:
     
  12. Beentherebefore

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    1970 Chrysler publicity photo taken @ Riverside before the Trans Am season started.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. MoparNorm

    MoparNorm Active Jeeper
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    ;)
    That would still be a great car...today!
     
  14. Beentherebefore

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    Fondly remembered - probably one of the reasons that the new Dodge Challenger sells moderately well today. I forgot to mention the drivers of the Plymouth factory backed team (duh!). The incomparable Dan Gurney and Swede Savage. Unfortunately (if I'm remembering correctly) Savage met an untimely end a few years later, I believe in an IRL type racecar.
     
  15. MoparNorm

    MoparNorm Active Jeeper
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    Savage was also the driver of the Gurney-Eagle-Plymouth powered Indy car, for several races.
    Savage crashed at the Indianapolis 500, in the most spectacular crash in Speedway history. He hit the inside wall head in after his rear wing came loose, he in his seat, was thrown out of the car and laid amid a full load of racing fuel as it burned in the middle of the track. He was conscious during the entire ordeal and survived the crash, only to die of liver and kidney failure over 30 days later in the hospital. To make events even weirder, one of his pit crew members was running to his aid when hit and killed instantly by a fire truck rushing to help Savage.
    He is buried in his hometown of San Bernardion, just miles from the location of the place were he got his start, Riverside International Raceway.
     
  16. Beentherebefore

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    Thanks Norm,

    I didn't remember all the details but I knew it was grisly.

    Do you have any pictures/articles/specs for the Gurney Eagle when (if) it was Plymouth powered? I posted an ad featuring the Plymouth powered Indy car that Art Pollard drove to victoory @ Dover on the Sprint Car/IRL thread. I vaguely remember Mario Andretti driving a Mopar powered IRL car around that time too but haven't been able to come up with anything on that yet. I thought that by the time Gurney was building his Eagles, IRL (USAC in those days) had abandoned their "Stock block" experiments and had gone back to exotics.
     
  17. Mike V.

    Mike V. Mopar-nac The Moderator
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    Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the 1973 STP Eagle, driven by Swede Savage, was powered by Drake-Offenhauser engine with a Garrett turbocharger. It was a 4-cylinder, twin-cam, derived from the 1912 Peugeot engine, developing 1100HP.

    If you jump over the the "Mopar in IRL, Sprint Cars, WOO" thread, there are links to a museum in Nebraska that has the two original Plymouth-Westlake engines and the original 1969 Plymouth Indy car.

    Mike
     
  18. MoparNorm

    MoparNorm Active Jeeper
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    Mike, I wrote that a little sloppily. Two separate thoughts. The Indy car and Eagle-Plymouth were two different cars.
    The Eagle-Plymouth driven by Savage was in 1971, at Ontario, in the Questor F1-Formula 5000 race. It was also an STP sponsored car (Gurney and Clark did some early work for the STP Turbine eventually driven by Andretti)
    Couldn't find photos.
    From wiki:

    "In March 1971, Savage entered the Questor Grand Prix at Ontario Motor Speedway, driving an Eagle-Plymouth Formula 5000 car."
    I should add that the car was destroyed when the throttle stuck wide oped going into a turn.
     
  19. Mike V.

    Mike V. Mopar-nac The Moderator
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    Ok, now it makes sense... Note the 1969 STP Plymouth Indy car is in a museum in Nebraska.

    The heads are AWESOME. I assume the Eagle Plymouth probably had the same 318 based engine setup because Gurney had a previous relationship with Westlake.

    Mike
     
  20. Beentherebefore

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    IIRC, this project was the forerunner to what eventually became the Chrysler TransAm program in 1970. Bob Tullius ran this Dart (shown here in a Kelsey-Hayes ad) with much success & publicity for several years in the mid 60s. He had some factory support. I saw this car run in a sports car race (in the Sedan class) set up in the parking lot of San Francisco's Candlestick Park circa 1966.

    [​IMG]
     

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