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The All-time Dodge/Plymouth NASCAR Racing history thread

Discussion in 'Historical' started by Beentherebefore, Sep 30, 2013.

  1. Beentherebefore

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    This writer has it about 95% correct, as I'm remembering it. Ol man France was already po'd at Chrysler because the Kiefhaker (sp?) Chrysler 300 teams had devastated the '55 and '56 Nascar seasons for all the other manufacturers but this dispute really raised his ire;

    http://www.racefansforever.com/nascar-50-post-14
     
  2. dyslexic teddybear

    dyslexic teddybear Active Member

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    Awesome link.

    Explains a bit.

    More!!




    [still quietly, respectfully, urging a historical racing section]
     
  3. Curtis Redgap

    Curtis Redgap Chyrsler Historical Buff!!
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    Congratulations on a great article. Outstanding research. Perhaps it was not emphasized enough, however, had France not relented, he was faced with bankruptcy for NASCAR. Gate receipts fell right out the bottom, and no matter WHAT he attempted to do to bring money into the coffers, failed. His other dilemma resided around the Petty clan themselves. They were one of the most popular (year after year) members of NASCAR. As much as he might want to seek retributions against Chrysler for standing HIS organization on its rear, he would have been messing with the fan base in the form of the Petty group. We have a great story which runs along with what you have done here, on ALLPAR.COM. Of course, it is more about Petty, Plymouth and Chrysler. Enjoyed this very much and I am looking forward to more.
     
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  4. Dave Z

    Dave Z It's me, Dave
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  5. Beentherebefore

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    I have lots more of my own stuff from the 60s and 70s, Curtis - newspaper articles, old magazine articles, programs, and photos that I took myself at Nascar races (West Coast) and also at the old Fremont, Lodi, and Half Moon Bay dragstrips. A lot of them have been up in the rafters of my garage for 30+ years and the elements are slowly getting to them. Hopefully we can get an exclusive historical racing thread established here in this section so I can post them for your enjoyment while they are still legible. We can all do research on the web but I'd be interested in seeing what some of you guys have in your personal collections also.
     
  6. Beentherebefore

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    Well, OK.......a little more as I remember it. The "Rich Howard" referred to in the article was Richard Howard, owner (or part owner) of Charlotte Motor Speedway before Bruton Smith. He never gave up on the idea of bringing back Chevys to increase the crowds and his gate receipts. In 1971, he basically funded the effort by Jr Johnson to build what later became known as the Coca-Cola Chebbie driven by Bobby Allison. An essential element of this story can be heard if you listen very carefully when they play the "Back in the Day" series on TV and do the show on this car, namely..............Jr Johnson admitting that he knew that his big-block Chebbie would not really be competitive against the Hemi powered Mopars and Fords and so went to Ol' man France and asked him to make "adjustments" (the word he uses in the TV interview) to the rules so that his Chebbie could run up front with the top cars. The result was the first use in Nascar of restrictor plates, specifically to cut the hp advantages of the Hemis. The Howard backed Chebbie (I believe that Charlie Glotzbach first drove it ) had such an advantage over the choked down Hemis that a nervous Bill France threw a restrictor plate at it also, but always with larger throttle bores than the Hemi cars were allowed. There was so much arguing and bickering over who had an advantage that Nascar was changing the sizes of the rp bore holes every few weeks to try to keep the competition even. If you look at the results from the '72 racing season, you can see that the big races were fairly evenly split between that Chebbie, Petty's Plymouth, and the Woods Bros. Mercury. By the end of that year, all the big blocks had been throttled down so far that Nascar engine builders began to realize that an unrestricted small block could make equal or greater hp. By the end of '73, everybody was using small blocks and the big-blocks were then banned forever by Nascar when it set the current 358" limit.
     
  7. Curtis Redgap

    Curtis Redgap Chyrsler Historical Buff!!
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    1972 was an interesting year. Recall that Ford had pulled out of NASCAR factory sponsorship at the end of the 1970 season. Chrysler did the same thing to Petty after he won in 1971. Winston started sponsorship of NASCAR in 1971. For 1972, in all the Winston Cup races, no Fords won. Mercury with a year old body ('71) won 9 races. Petty won 7 races in the Plymouth. 1 in the Dodge. But, that # 12 '72 Chevrolet was driven by none other than Bobby Allison, with Richard Howard sponsoring him for 31 races. He won 10. That was not the only car Howard sponsored either. He also used his furniture company to sponsor a couple. Some races, he had three cars out there.

    This wasn't the first time France set stringent rules against the "factory" teams......although not quite so stringent set against GM products. Recall for 1971, "aero cars" like the Cobra and the Daytona Charger were limited to 305 cubic inch displacements. Mario Rossi had Keith Black build a nice small block 305 V-8, and dropped it into a '69 Dodge Charger. Heh! Someone told Rossi that his engine had been stolen, and they replaced it with a "lunch box."

    In the 1971 Daytona 500, the little engine "that could" .........did. In the era of 7,000 rpm engines, the "lunch box" was humming happily at over 10,000! Driven by Dick Brooks he said at first he was holding his breath, expecting to be plastered with engine parts exploding throughout the car. Finally, he realized that it was doing its thing, and let it run itself out. I would have like to have been near Ol' France when that # 22 Gold/Red Dodge came humming out of that fourth turn, in the LEAD! And going away. Lead the race for over 20 laps. But, then, whether accident or maybe not.......he was tagged and sent into the rail. It took 7 laps to repair the damage. He finished, but not where he should have. Brooks had started 8th, finished 7th, 2 laps down, making up 5 laps before the race ended. I am sure that Ol' France counted every one of them!
     
  8. MoparNorm

    MoparNorm Active Jeeper
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    I've told this story before, but it seems appropriate here, given the era and subject matter.
    In 1973 we built a very nice Sportsman class ( now Super Late Model) using the then legal slant six and a '71 Dart body. We failed three straight tech inspections, three weeks in a row and were not allowed to race the car.
    Out of frustration we replaced the body with a Chevelle, similar to what 90% of the competition was running that year, but left the Mopar drivetrain untouched.
    We never again failed tech and raced two seasons with that Dodge engine.
    The anti-Mopar oppression reached into every level of NASCAR in those days.
     
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  9. Curtis Redgap

    Curtis Redgap Chyrsler Historical Buff!!
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    Also an odd bit in that the Keith Black 305 engine was offered to the Petty outfit, still in charge of all Chrysler racing distribution in 1971. Maurice, Richard and Lee decided NOT to use it, and rejected it because they had also elected to not run an "aero" package car in 1971. As told by Richard, we looked at the 305 and the 426 Hemi, then compared horsepower. On that basis, we rejected the 305, feeling that it could never overcome the raw horsepower factor of the output of the Hemi 426. (Richard Petty won the 1971 NASCAR championship, for which, Chrysler promptly rewarded him by pulling out all factory sponsorship in NASCAR!) In the Daytona 500 Richard won the race, with his driver, Buddy Baker in a Petty built and owned Dodge, placing second.

    Of a V-8 engine in that era, ANY V-8 being able to turn up quickly, safely, and consistently into the 10K + range was just UNHEARD of! No one really took that into account. Dick Brooks AND Mario Rossi being the MOST surprised of all when the "lunch box" ran so well without any maintenance or engine issues! In the qualifying run that Brooks made, he was really, REALLY shaken in his belief about V-8 power in that were the big Hemi was done pulling, the lunch box had just begun to run. He liked it to an electric sewing machine that just keep on humming, higher, and higher.

    Unfortunately, not much is known of the engine itself, nor where it went. Mario Rossi headed up DiGard racing for awhile, but Darrell Waltrip got him fired. He disappeared without a trace in the early 1980s and no one has seen or heard from or about Rossi since.
     
  10. Beentherebefore

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    "1972 was an interesting year. Recall that Ford had pulled out of NASCAR factory sponsorship at the end of the 1970 season. Chrysler did the same thing to Petty after he won in 1971. Winston started sponsorship of NASCAR in 1971. For 1972, in all the Winston Cup races, no Fords won. Mercury with a year old body ('71) won 9 races. Petty won 7 races in the Plymouth. 1 in the Dodge. But, that # 12 '72 Chevrolet was driven by none other than Bobby Allison, with Richard Howard sponsoring him for 31 races. He won 10."

    Well, my memory wasn't too far off, then. That's pretty even on the race totals since, if I'm remembering correctly, Allison ran off with a few of the races before Ol' man France got scared that he would win them all and started to close down the rp holes on the BBC, though never as restrictive as on the Mopar and Ford Hemis. Ford SAID that they were dropping factory sponsorship but somehow the Woods Bros always managed to keep a tech support line going to the Ford factory. Same for the Pettys and Mopar, no matter what Chrysler said about withdrawing support. They also kept tech support going to Nord Krauskop's #71, driven by Bobby Issacs at the time. The $$$ from Winston did allow the teams to keep racing without being on the Detroit company's direct payrolls.

    BTW, I saw that Rossi owned 305" powered winged Daytona run @ the old Ontario Motor Speedway with Dick Brooks driving. I believe that he got a top 5 finish with it. I have all the OMS programs from those years. I'll have to pull them out and look one of these days. I'm waiting to get an exclusive historical racing section on this board which will give me the incentive to crawl up into the rafters in my garage and get all that old stuff down one more time. I've got to battle a failing back and the black-widow spiders to get to my boxes of mementos. :lol:
     
  11. Mike V.

    Mike V. Mopar-nac The Moderator
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    With a history like this... I don't blame Chrysler for not "wanting" or "trusting" in NASCAR.

    Mike
     
  12. MoparNorm

    MoparNorm Active Jeeper
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    Big Bill's death and Bill Jr's lobbying is what convinced Dodge Dealers,to beg the factory to come back, this most recent time.
    However as soon as they did, Ford and Chevy started crying again, just like always.
    Dodge was fast out of the gate and they went through several rule changes to slow them down.

    By the time Dodge won the Championship in 2012, much of that was behind NASCAR and ironically it's as fair now, as it has ever been.
    I credit the retirement of many old school France Family cronies and the promotion of former racers into the rules and tech committees.
     
  13. Beentherebefore

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    You are right about it being about as fair now as it has ever been, in fact, I'll wager that Nascar would bend over backwards to get Dodge to return now. However, the organization is still permeated with former (and current, if in disguise, like Ol' Doug Duchart @ Hendrick's) GM execs and Nascar still caters to it's GM masters. Mr Middlebrook, the former head of marketing for Chevy, as the final arbiter of appeals???!!! I mean, come on.
     
  14. Beentherebefore

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    You'd have to look pretty hard to find any racing org in the US that has NOT discriminated against Chrysler at one time or another. I can recite the story for you how NHRA threw weight and wheelbase rules up against the early Chrysler Hemi Pro Stock cars in their effort to handicap them, but that's a story for another time. Chrysler was also going to make a run @ Indianapolis with Hemi power in the mid 50s and was suddenly handicapped by new rules which were thrown up against them, if I'm recalling correctly what I read once. It was a little before my time but maybe Curtis remembers the whole story.

    The point is that most times when the company decided to come back and fight playing by the new rules, rather than turn tail and skulk off, they have been successful. Their achievements against the discriminatory rules are all part of the Mopar legend.
     
  15. dyslexic teddybear

    dyslexic teddybear Active Member

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    Fascinating stuff. When you consider the bias, Petty's record with Mopar is even more impressive.

    A 10,000 rpm Mopar in 1971.....gets my attention. Would love to know "the rest of the story" on that one. A bit before my time, but I have read some about the 305.....no mention that it would spin to 10K. Awesome!!

    Thanks to Beenthere and Curtis. Always informative, and very entertaining.

    Love this kind of stuff, please post more when you have time.
     
  16. Beentherebefore

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    Petty's most impressive year (1967) should never have been when you consider what he was up against. After Ol' man France relented and let the Hemis back in in late1965, Ford said that it would boycott Nascar in 1966. A Ford "boycott" never seems to be 100% (which is why I'm telling everyone not to celebrate their "withdrawal" from supporting NHRA) so there were still very competitive Fords from the Woods Bros (Gurney , Panch), Holman & Moody (Lorenzen), Jr Johnson (Allison & others) and Ned Jarrett. Chrysler won most of the big races, though, and Ford kept threatening to throttle back some more on support. To keep Ford happy, Ol' man France made two very big concessions to Ford in the rules for 1967;

    1) He allowed Ford to run it's Fairlane model which had a wheelbase several inches shorter than the Mopar "intermediates", Plym Belvederes & Dodge Coronets/Chargers.

    2) If that wasn't enough, he allowed Ford to run a 2 X 4bbl setup on it's "tunnel-port" 427 motor. That's right folks.........Nascar which never before had allowed deviation from the 1 4bbl carb only rule (very early Nascar days are an exception, but that's another story) and never deviated again right up to last year's introduction of EFI, dangled this huge concession in front of Ford to get them to commit to a full factory effort in 1967. Chrysler was not happy and seriously considered dropping out of Nascar again. The 2 X 4bbl "tunnel-port" Ford motor was a killer combo (as everyone predicted at the time) and Ford teams won most of the big races in 1967, which is what Ford really wanted. The motor was not as advantaged on the small and intermediate tracks because of a narrow power/torque band and Petty went on a rampage with his Plymouth, winning 27 races that year, a record that still stands today. Of course, with Petty winning that many races, it took away virtually all the ammunition that Chrysler had to say that their Hemi package was now at a disadvantage. The irony is that the main thing that Nascar historians remember/write about 1967 is Petty's 27 wins, not the Ford victories at Daytona and the other big tracks. Unfortunately, the next year, Ford would add the very slick fastback Torino/ Merc Cyclone bodies to the 2 X 4bbl motor package and they went on a rampage which ended with Petty deciding to drive for Ford in '69.

    Anyway, if you have any Ford-lovin' buddies, you can have some fun with them by reminding them of the extra carb they were handed by Nascar in 1967 & 1968 to run with the Hemis. I've got one or two on another discussion board and they are actually embarrassed when that topic is brought up. There are pictures and stories of the 2 X 4bbl "tunnel-port" on the web, I'm sure, but it's kind of a SHHhhhhhhhhh topic to Ford lovers. ;)
     
  17. JavelinAMX

    JavelinAMX Well-Known Member

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    Not being up to speed with NASCAR history, I always thought the France's were Ford people. It could be because of the few years leading up to and including the Aero Wars, however.

    Anyone ever think of Smokey Yunick when the topic turns to Jimmy Johnson/Chad K ? Or No ... ?
     
  18. MoparNorm

    MoparNorm Active Jeeper
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    Gosh no! France worked at a GM Dealer, the infield lake at Daytona is named after him (Lake Lloyd) the Daytona 500 trophy is named after noted GM designer, Harley Earl. Some early NASCAR investors were GM executives, or dealers and several former GM executives found their way into NASCAR as officials.
    As for Yunick, he was far beyond that level, maybe BOTH Knaus and Johnson might equal him in some aspects, but when Smoky was born, they broke the mold.
    His exploits far exceed Knaus, in depth and legend.
    Smokey stories can fill a book.
     
  19. Beentherebefore

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    Remember the famous (or should I say "infamous") Cheater Chevelle he built that won the pole for the '67 Daytona 500 before it was thrown out for over 20 rules violations?
     
  20. Beentherebefore

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    More like "anybody but Chrysler" people. Here is a picture of the main reason - one of the Kiefhaeker (sp?) Chrysler 300s that blew away everybody else in 1955 & 1956. Ol' man France never forgave Chrysler for "stinkin' up his show", as he put it.

    [​IMG]

    Norm is right. Nascar has been permeated by GM influence almost since the beginning. It's essentially been "Chevcar" since 1972 when the Hemis were handicapped and then banned as the price to get GM back into Nascar with factory support. Once the small blocks became prevalent, Chevys had a built in advantage as they had been developing theirs since 1955 with all out performance parts for the Corvettes. The irony was that in 1973 and 1974, the sbc powered Nascar racers blew up more often than the less developed Mopar and Ford small blocks.
     

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