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Finally, along with Top Fuel racers Don Garlits and Jeb Allen, Top Fuel/Funny Car racer Gene Snow and Pro Stock driver Lee Shepherd ... Sox is the only Pro drag race driver to win world championships in the three main hot rod associations. He was the 1970 NHRA and AHRA Pro Stock World Champ and the 1981 IHRA Pro Stock champ aboard Dean Thompson's Mustang.

In April of 1965, Sox ran the first single digit Funny Car time for an unblown car with a 9.98 at York U.S. 30 in Pennslvania.


It was no accident that the "S" in "the Mongoose" nickname was a dollar sign; McEwen was drag racing's first great hustling race driver as evidenced by his pioneer work in netting the Mattel Toy Company as a full-time sponsor for he and Don Prudhomme. He was not the sport's winningest driver, but he was never broke as testified by his backing from Mattel, the Navy, English Leather, and Coors Beer.

McEwen was a national event winner in all three hot rod associations and was a founding father of the United Drag Racers Assn., along with Doug Kruse. In 1975, 1979, and 1983, he was the AHRA Funny Car World Champion; in IHRA competition he won three Funny Car national event titles. In this writer's opinion, his biggest win was taking the $35,000 for winning Don Garlits' PRA National Challenge at Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1972. Yes, bigger than his 1972 Bakersfield win, which was not attended by most of the big East Coast stars.


When you get down to it, "Jungle Jim" Liberman was far from the winningest Funny Car driver in history. He won just one NHRA title, the 1975 NHRA Summernationals, and never appeared in an IHRA final. In AHRA competition, I can think of only two big wins right off the top of my head, the 1968 Winter Nationals at Lions and the 1975 Grand American at West Salem, Ohio. However, Liberman's legend dovetails nicely with the sentiments expressed by the great jazz arranger Sy Oliver: "It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it."

Liberman was the first and still maybe the wildest driver ever. Nine-second full quarter-mile burnouts, fire burnouts, sideways or wheelstanding runs ... he was the king and, until John Force hit his stride in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was the most popular Funny Car driver of all time. In 1970, "Jungle" booked over 100 dates for his car and over 80 for his number two car.

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