Former Funny Car racer Condit diesMonday, July 25, 2011

Dave Condit, a member of one of Southern California’s most interesting racing families and winner of the 1974 NHRA World Finals Funny Car title, died July 21. He was 64.

Condit, best known as the longtime driver of the L.A. Hooker Mustangs campaigned with brothers Steve and Bill and cousins Gene and Rich Beaver, was a regular threat at Southern California match races throughout the 1970s and scored his lone NHRA national event victory behind the wheel of the Plueger & Gyger Mustang owned and tuned by Steve Plueger. The Condits are cousins of 15-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force; Gene Beaver was Force’s uncle.

Condit began his driving career in a Chevy-powered Top Fueler at age 18 in 1965 and campaigned the Beaver & Condit dragster up through 1969, eventually with Chrysler power, when the team decided to switch to Funny Car for the 1970 season. The team bought Nelson Carter’s Super Chief Charger, which became the first L.A. Hooker entry. Plueger and partner Richard Conklin (S&R Race Cars) built the team a new Maverick for 1971, and Condit scored runner-up honors behind Jim Dunn at the prestigious March Meet and also was runner-up behind Don Prudhomme at the Hot Wheels Northwest National Open in Seattle, where he had a great view of Prudhomme’s Barracuda famously flying across the finish line on fire.

The team got its first of many Mustangs in 1972 and toured successfully on the Coca-Cola Cavalcade circuit. After a dry 1973 season, the team temporarily parked the operation, and Condit went on to drive for Plueger. After winning the divisional event in Pomona and finishing third in Division 7 points, Condit scored his only national event win at the 1974 Ontario, Calif., event. Condit raced to an upset victory, defeating new national record setter Dale Pulde on a holeshot in the semifinals, 6.19 to 6.17, then besting Ed McCulloch in the final round, 6.24 to 6.33.

The team resurfaced in 1975 with the L.A. Hooker and ran a few seasons before the Condit brothers struck out on their own from 1978 to 1982 with the Condit Bros. Arrow (and later Omni), then briefly reunited with Beaver — and the L.A. Hooker name — in 1983-84 before calling it quits in the mid-1980s. After Bill Condit died in 2005, Force presented his NHRA Wally from that year’s Phoenix victory to Dave and Steve.

Services are pending.