“Wild Bill” Alexander, one of the most prolific drivers of the 1960s, died Oct. 5. He was 73.
Among the many famous Southern California–based entries that he drove were Top Gas cars such as the Peters & Frank Freight Train, Ernie’s Camera Shop Shudder Bug, and Chuck Jones’ Magwinder and Top Fuelers that included Bob Sbarboro’s Cheetah, Pat Johnson’s Moonlighter, the Hay, Walsh & Martinez Wailer, and the entries of Jim Brissette, the Plueger Bros., Bill Wishart, and Quincy, Herbert & Hippo.
Though he enjoyed many great campaigns, his best season was in 1964, when he and Brissette teamed to become the kings of speed. The duo recorded the first 200-mph clocking at San Fernando with a run of 202.24 and followed with a 200.00 blast Nov. 8 in Pomona. By year’s end, Alexander had made the fastest run of 1964, 205.94, at Fontana. That those runs were achieved with a relatively small 358-cid early Chrysler Hemi made them even more impressive. Among Alexander’s other accomplishments was a 7.19 that earned him the No. 1 qualifying spot at the 1967 March Meet in Bakersfield.
The increased cost of racing forced Alexander to retire from competition after the completion of the 1971 season. Following a 17-year hiatus, during which he and his son, Rod, raced blown hydro boats, Alexander returned to the sport in 1987 to compete in nostalgia Top Fuel events. The comeback proved to be a wise decision: He won the 2000 March Meet at age 60 and became one of the first members of the Nitronic Research 5 Second Club, reserved for drivers running five-second e.t.s in front-engine dragsters.
Alexander is survived by his sister Sandy DeFalco; brother Mike; daughter Renee Alexander; and granddaughters Kristi and Brandi. Services are pending.