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Vintage Funny Car videos

15 Apr 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider

I’ve spent so much time already this year writing about cool old Funny Cars and sharing cool old photos of same, so maybe it’s time for a little video to give new fans a better taste of what we’re being all nitro-teared nostalgic about and to give those who lived it another look. Here’s what I found in a quick cruise through YouTube.

Mickey Thompson’s Danny Ongais-driven 1969 Mustang is one of the cars on our Top 20 list on which fans are voting (haven’t voted yet? Go here), and this five-and-a-half-minute video gives you a great look at what was a bad hot rod. Shot at the AHRA Springnationals at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee and other venues, you get a real thorough look at the machine, from the clear back window, taillights, scoops, and door handles that made it really look like a car to some cockpit detail shots, the wrinkle-wall M&H RaceMaster slicks on wheelie bars, and the 427 SOHC engine. The video also gives you a clear sense of what a handful these early Funny Cars were (I especially appreciated the wild moves the car made in the shutdown area at the one-minute mark). Includes shots of Ongais, a very passionate-about-something MT, and some great sounds.

This snippet from Diamond P’s Fabulous Floppers video, hosted by the late, great Steve Evans, has a fiberglass forest of vintage floppers as Evans, the master storyteller, talks about the class’ history (beginning at about the 1:20 mark), from its stocker roots through the altered-wheelbase cars. Great vintage video of some landmark cars, including Dick Landy’s Dodge, the Samson Dart, from Pomona and Fremont, the early Mercurys, the Chi-Town Hustler and Gene Snow’s Rambunctious (two more from our Top 20 list), Don Schumacher’s Stardust ‘Cuda, Gene Conway’s Destroyer Jeep, and more. Don Prudhomme and Kenny Bernstein also chime in with analysis of memorable mishaps, including body launches by Joe Winters, Paul Smith, Raymond Beadle, and Ron Correnti.

You’ll have to sit through a little bit of promotion and other classes to enjoy this one, but it’s worth it. It’s a promo video for Jim Amos' Bee On Video, Funny Car Fever, with footage from the 1972 SS&DI Funny Car Nationals at York U.S. 30. After tasty dry hops by Ed McCulloch's Revellution, you’ll see cars such as Kenny Warren’s Virginia Twister, Larry Fullerton’s Trojan Horse Mustang, Tom Hoover and the White Bear Dodge, “Jungle Jim" Liberman’s Camaro, Leroy Goldstein in the Candies & Hughes 'Cuda, Don Prudhomme’s white Hot Wheels 'Cuda, Frank Oglesby’s Quarter Horse Mustang, Warren Gunter’s Durachrome Bug, and Johnny Valdez’s Mexican Revolution Camaro.

A nice little clip from the 1970 AHRA Summer Nationals at New York National Speedway includes Jim Maybeck’s Screaming Eagle Camaro, the Prock & Howell Mustang, King & Marshall, and Leroy Goldstein and the Ramchargers. New York National, of course, is where Goldstein piloted the Ramchargers machine to the class’ first-six-second pass that same year.

Another short but interesting video from New Jersey’s Atco Dragway from what looks like about 1970, with Tom Sneeden in the Bob Banning Dodge Challenger, "Pee Wee" Wallace’s Virginian, Pete Hill in the Hill Brothers Barracuda, Bill Leavitt in his and Jim Nicoll’s Quickie Too Mustang, Bill Flynn’s Yankee Peddler Charger, and "Jungle Jim” Liberman’s red Camaro.

Byron Dragway was a popular match race date for Funny Cars in the mid-1970s, as this 1973 video shows. An all-star lineup (literally!) that includes Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen in their respective Carefree Gum 'Cuda and Duster entries, Ed McCulloch’s Revellution, Pat Foster in Barry Setzer’s Vega, Roland Leong’s Hawaiian, the Chi-Town Hustler, Shirley Muldowney, Don Schumacher’s Wonder Wagon 'Cuda, Mickey Thompson’s Revelleader Grand Am, the Blue Max Mustang, Jim Paoli, Mr. Norm’s Charger, the Pabst Blue Ribbon Charger, the Quickie Too, Billy Meyer’s Mustang, and the Jenner & Ron Hodgson Automatic radio car.

Finally is this clip from the great YouTube collection of Dwight Guild (written about in a previous Insider column), this one showcasing Don Prudhomme’s Army-backed Plymouth Horizon at Orange County Int’l Raceway in what was a pretty typical routine: long, wet burnout, back up, couple of dry hops to the line, then a hard squirt, back up, pour some VHT “glue” under the rear tires, a quick spin, another dry hop to the line, then the run itself. Compare that to today’s streamlined procedure of a wet burnout, back up, and stage, and you can see why flopper fans of the 1970s and 1980s think it was the greatest era for the class.