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Mopar racer and wheelstander Bill “Maverick” Golden

Based on a Mopar Action story
by Steve Collison

Bill “Maverick” Golden has won over 1,800 trophies, set hundreds of records, and won thousands of races. Chrysler first gave him a parts deal in 1960, when he was racing a Dodge Phoenix with a 330 horsepower 383 engine. Fed by dual Carter four-barrels and a cross-ram intake, the car ran a 13.7 second quarter mile. The factory was impressed with his work, and lent him a new S/SA 1962 Dodge with a 420-horsepower Max Wedge V8 engine. At the 1962 AHRA Winternationals, he beat factory-supported Don Nicholson’s Chevy in Stock Eliminator with that car, ending up the only Chrysler driver to win a class at the Winternationals that year.

bill maverick golden

Golden told Mopar Action that Don Nicholson made it personal — the wind blew Golden’s hat off, and Don ran it over.

The race not only pointed to Maverick’s skills; it also showed that automatics could win races. Until that time, the cross-ram cars with automatics had shifted out of second gear at a low 3,200 rpm; he credited Marvin Ford with figuring out how to modify the transmissions to get the right shift points. They tested weights one at a time, pulling out the output shaft housing, swapping weights, putting it back, and then running up and down the street. He claimed the trick made a four-carlength difference at the finish line.

Golden also tried to cut internal friction, by running just enough valve spring pressure to reach 6,000 rpm — dropping from around 140 psi at the valve seat to 110 psi. He credited Gordon Williams with showing him how to modify the distributor for a quick full advance. All the little tricks, he claimed, helped him drop from 14.3 to 13.7 second quarter miles. The 413 Dodge eventually hit a 12.14 second quarter mile.

Chrysler sent him to Jim Nelson’s Dragmaster shop in Carlsbad; he worked with Jim Nelson and others to develop the cast iron exhaust manifolds for the 1963 Max Wedge package, and developed the swinging traction system — running the bars from the axle housing to below the rear bumper, and using steel instead of rubber for some bushings. The extra weight transfer helped the seven-inch slicks to grip; but they were outlawed for the next year.

The 1963 Dodge 330 was more than two hundred pounds lighter, with a 426 Max Wedge (rather than a 413), and an improved transmission; Golden applied his basket of tricks and won seven of eight S/S Eliminator titles, and ended up with the Midwest S/S Championship.

Maverick's Little Red Wagon (Dodge A-100)

Dodge gave Maverick a 426 Hemi-powered Dodge 330 factory racer when they were first developed, and sent him on the AHRA Ultra Stock circuit; he visited Don Garlits’ shop, and they won their classes at the Florida State Championships together.

Frank Wylie, Chrysler’s chief of public relations, took Maverick to Detroit at the end of the season; they visited Dick Branster’s shop (where the “Color Me Gone” car was developed) and showed him the first “Little Red Wagon,” a Dodge truck with a supercharged, 30%-nitro-injected 426 Hemi in the back. The truck tended to wheelstand, and nearly flipped over backwards in testing. It broke the A/Factory Experimental early on; but its tendency to lift the front wheels off the ground, and its effect on the crowds at racing events, led Wylie to make it into an exhibition vehicle instead. “Maverick” went from full-time racing to wheelstanding, and continued to tour for decades

Additional (via Allpar)

Michael Spurbeck wrote:

I had the privilege of being up close with him in his garage, and helping him with a couple of projects… he was honest even when we went hunting the scrap yards for spare Dodge A100 parts and heavy banjo-type truck axles. I last saw him in 2013 … when I paid a visit to a mutual friend (his doctor), and saw him suffering from Alzheimers, unable to remember anything more current than about 1985. I will miss you, Bill. Still my hero and my friend.

maverick's little red wagon

Chrysler Corporation photography Larry Monkhouse wrote, “I met Bill on two occasions - the first time was at the Grand Bend Motorplex. On this run, he was completely airborne (note daylight under the rear wheels). The second time, when he ran at Detroit Dragway, I was hired by our agency to do a story about Bill. We took the Little Red Wagon to a mall parking lot and he said to me, ‘Do you want me to llight it up?’ I said that wouldn’t be a good idea early Sunday morning.”

We have a full page on Bill Maverick’s wheelstanding and the Little Red Wagon.

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