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Looking back, the concept of Pro Stock started in the late ‘50s, with the zippy new V/8 Chevys, and the ‘High & Mighty’ ’58 Plymouth of the MOPAR engineers. As Pontiac and Ford joined the fray, by the early ‘60s match racing became a huge part of the popularity of drag racing. As the desire to run faster gripped the factories, Chrysler created their altered wheel-base cars in ’65. These cars looked ‘funny’ and hence the name Funny Car was born. At first, most were stock cars with some metal removed, and engines with fuel injection. The gap widened between what was actually produced by the factory for street use, and strip use.
After a wild 1969 season of A/FX racing coast to coast, NHRA decided to offer a new eliminator for factory produced cars, using carburetion, strictly burning gasoline, and weighing 7 lbs per cubic inch of engine displacement; its name, PRO STOCK
NHRA Winternationals, 1970: Bill Jenkins won the inaugural Pro Stock title at Pomona. The Malvern, Pa. racer is the principle architect of the new Division. Bill not only started off with a win over Ronnie Sox, he continued with three in a row, adding the OCIR Manufacturer’s Championship and the NHRA Gatornationals. Bill’s ability to influence NHRA continued in 1973 when he showed up at Pomona with a Vega, powered by a small block Chevy engine, and a better weight break!
The following report is my perspective of how Pro Stock began, and what it was like during 1970.
Fielding a factory backed SS/EA Camaro during 1968 & 69, gave us an insight to what was in store for 1970. Howard Harmon, a Central California racer with a Bill Thomas sponsored Chevy II, talked to me about the two of us running a Pro Stock with B/T – GM power. When it was almost too late to make Pomona, we decided to try. We obtained a Nickey ’68 Camaro which had suffered a flywheel explosion, and in two weeks time, created the very first ‘Chevy West’ Pro Stock car, and made it to Pomona. No, we were not ready for Bill Jenkins!