Book Review

Drag Racing Funny Cars
of the 1960s - By Lou Hart

Reviewed by Darr Hawthorne

ach period of drag racing has its special time or frozen moment that each of us fondly remember as our personal Golden Years. For me that was the mid to late 1960s when some Funny Cars still had working doors.

Drag Racing Funny Cars of the 1960's, by photographer Lou Hart, has captured that time of innocence when now legendary cars like the Hemi Cuda were transported to the strip by a pick-up truck and a single axle trailer. In this new paperback photo book you'll find rare shots of truly unique cars, informally, the way they sat in the pits, the way a spectator with his hanging pit pass would view them.

With a foreword from Funny Car veteran Randy Walls, the book chronicles a group of Chrysler Motor Division engineers known as the Ramchargers who, arguably, may have spawned the first funny car with their "High and Mighty" '49 Plymouth Business Coupe.

The book then moves into the super stockers and altered wheelbase cars as nitro was introduced and steel bodied cars headed to the junkyard replaced by fiberglass replicas touring the match race circuits on the backs of ramp trucks. One will find the innocence of a world before Funny Cars became the non-descript, carbon fiber aero blobs we see on today's quarter mile.

Hart has compiled these candid shots of the period and included candid Memorable Moments from drag racers like Paula Murphy, Nelson Carter, Don Schumacher, Ray Alley, Linda Vaughn, Rich Siroonian, Jess Tyree and Austin Coil who performed many times a week as the pioneers of Funny Car. This is a time when cars had names and drivers had nicknames like The Farmer, Mr. Norm, Mr. Pontiac, Jungle Jim and Big John, a time when promoters frequently put on a show with 64 Funny Cars attending. Matchless images of the Precisioned Speed Shop Corvair, Tommy Grove and the Melrose Missile and Steve Bovan's blown Nova.

The only drawback I found to this photo-packed book is it's printed in black and white, but the period it depicts is a great starting point for remembering and honoring these early flopper heroes.

The book is published by Iconographix (800) 289-3504.

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