NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Midwest injected Funny Cars of the 1970s

17 Sep 2010
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Injected fuel cars are a big part of the sport's history from Jr. Fuel on up, and although the combination lives on today in the Top Alcohol Dragster class in the A/Fuel designation, injected fuel funnies are no more, though they were certainly popular in the early 1970s.

Before Pro Comp and the popularity of methanol-burning Funny Cars, a lot of the pioneers in that class tried A/Funny Car, including folks such as Dale Armstrong and Ken Veney. I received correspondence this week from another of those early A/FC racers, Jim Farnsworth, who sent me a ton of photos of the cars that he raced and raced with in the early 1970s.

It's cool to see these Funny Cars, some with small "hood scoops" and some with none at all, and to see some of the names associated with the class back then.

Farnsworth, who raced most recently with a blown alcohol Funny Car from 1992 through 2001, got his start in a '31 C/A Ford coupe called The Hustler, racing at Des Moines Dragway, Humboldt Dragway, Cordova Dragstrip, and other Midwest haunts, match racing often against the likes of Jack Ditmars and his Lil Screamer.

After spending two years serving in Vietnam, Farnsworth returned and bought the Blue Bandit A/FC Pontiac Firebird from Dick Stokes and went racing in the International Funny Car Association, locking horns with teams such as those owned by Ditmars, Jeg Coughlin Sr., Dick Titsworth, Hagen & O'Hara, Guthrie & Burton, Gaglione & Paulo, and more, many of whom are represented below.

Farnsworth later bought the Gaglione & Paulo Vega and a ramp truck (you didn't really think we'd get away from ramp trucks, did ya?) and raced until 1975, when he got out of racing to concentrate on business. When he returned in 1992, it was with an ex-Vern Moats Daytona, and Farnsworth, 66 years young this month, still helps ol' Vern once in a while. He's also looking for his old Pontiac, which he'd love to find, restore, and run in nostalgia racing, so keep your eyes peeled.

Jim Farnsworth's Hustler Firebird
Farnsworth's Vega
Look, a ramp truck! Someone should do a whole column on ramp trucks.
Bob Durban at the wheel of the JEGS 'Cuda
Dick Titsworth's Seaport Automotive entry
Bob Ehgotz and the Muelling & Ehgotz Trans Am
Joe Arrigo's Camaro
The Gaglione & Paulo Vega, driven by Nick Gaglione
Art Cambridge's Opel
Tom Kenny's Red Baron Camaro
Vic Tiffin wheeling the DeCausmaker and Tiffin Mustang
John Kelly's Blue Meanie Vega
Fred Hagen and the Hagen & O'Hara Challenger
Jim Guthrie driving the Guthrie & Burton Mustang
Tiffin in the Yoakum & Stovall Mini Spoiler
And perhaps the wildest A/FC of all time, Jack Ditmars' rear-engine Boss Brute Vega
Al Fontanini's Charger
The Gray Ghost Firebird

Cool ... that was fun! Shows that you don't need to have a blower to have Funny Car fun. OK, I'll see you next week. I'll only have a column Tuesday (but I think it's going to be a special one) before I travel to Dallas Thursday for the big show there. Thanks for visiting.