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Forty years ago, these two Pro Stock stars provided OCIR drag racing fans an intense showdown between the two ‘hottest’ American brands since Pro Stock’s inception in 1970; Chevrolet & Plymouth!
By 1972, the promoter inside me was bursting at the seams! If I were still at Tri State Dragway in Kahoka, MO., or Arizona Raceway in Phoenix, Ariz., or the PR man at Carlsbad Raceway in North San Diego; it would be a ‘no brainer’. There had to be a showdown on the West Coast between Bill Jenkins & Butch Leal. This race, at this time, had it all: East Coast vs. West Coast, the MOPAR factory establishment’s number one driver, against upstart Chevrolet. Even more important was the fact that Bill Jenkins, who won the first three Pro Stock races in 1970 with a full size Camaro, had now re-appeared with a small block engine in a little Vega.
In late 1971, I helped the Pro Stock racers organize the West Coast Pro Stock Association, which operated for several years. Butch Leal, Bill Bagshaw and I, then set forth to convince a local track to offer ‘the’ Match Race!
At OCIR, where we wanted to offer the race, we were told that only Funny Cars once per month could race because the track needed the Funny Car income to make their monthly cost of doing business. So they would not allow another feature event on a week end. Next we traveled down to Carlsbad in San Diego County. There the track was in decay, and none of us felt it could be repaired enough to ensure a profitable event. We even tried the Palmdale area drag strip, north of Los Angeles.
Our decision was- to race on a Wednesday Night at OCIR. The track offered Wednesday bracket races every week, so we only had to advertise a special event.