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Hemi Under Glass flips with Jay Leno on board

by Patrick Rall on

Few Mopar drag cars are as well-recognized at the Hurst “Hemi Under Glass” Plymouth Barracuda. Bob Riggle has been making quarter mile passes on the rear wheels of his black-and-gold machine since the mid-1960s, with the help of the supercharged Hemi engine behind the driver’s seat.

hemi under glass rolls still

After campaigning the wheelstanding Hemi Under Glass in the 1960s and 1970s, Riggle and his rear engine Plymouth Barracuda have been making runs at tracks all over the country. In fact, when my dad took me to my first Mopar Nationals event in the early 1990s, the car that sticks out the most in my mind was the Hemi Under Glass Barracuda, making a 9-second quarter mile run entirely on the rear wheels. Ever since that day when I was 12 or 13, the black-and-gold Barracuda has been one of my favorite classic Mopar race cars…which makes this piece particularly saddening.

Recently, Riggle met up with Jay Leno at Irwindale Speedway for the filming of a season 2 episode of Jay Leno’s Garage and during the filming, Riggle took Leno for a wheels-up ride in the 1969 Barracuda, but things went wrong in a hurry – with the end result being the Hurst Hemi Under Glass rolling over with TV host on board.

The run starts off looking like most Hurst Hemi Under Glass exhibition runs, with the Plymouth Barracuda pulling away from a stop with the wheels way up in the air. It looks as though the car is in the infield area of Irwindale Speedway, heading towards the outside wall. When the nose of the car came down and Riggle began trying to slow down, the back wheels starting bouncing on the choppy surface. When the car started bouncing, it looks like it wasn’t going to get stopped before getting to the outside wall, to Riggle tried to turn the car left to follow the contour of the track.

Unfortunately, as soon as the wheels turned, the bouncing Barracuda quickly flipped over, rolling over the top before coming to rest on its wheels. Riggle checked with Leno and turned off the engine, which hadn’t stalled during the rollover. We get to see the crash from both inside and outside of the car, and it is a fairly violent flip.

Jay Leno and Bob Riggle came away from the accident without injury, but as you can see in the video below (which aired on the Tonight Show), the Hemi Under Glass Barracuda sustained pretty significant damage. Hopefully Bob and the team will have the car fixed up to keep making memories for Mopar lovers young and old for years to come!

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.


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