The late 1960s was a time when Drag Racing’s popular “doorslammers” were at a cross roads.
In one camp, the development of Pro Stock was just getting started by those who favored racing production-based cars with high-tech, carbureted, gasoline-burning V-8 engines. While another group modified their OEM cars with stripped-down interiors, full roll cages, chassis adjustments and big racing slicks and they powered their so-called Funny Cars with nitromethane-enhanced alcohol-burning V-8 engines that had fuel-injection, superchargers and individual headers.
And one of the best known of this later assemblage was the “Frantic Ford” 1969½ Mustang Mach I that quickly became a contender for top honors all up and down the East Coast.
The yellow and black Nostalgia Funny Car that is seen at Motorsports 2016, however, is a contemporary recreation of the original racer and it is owned and driven by Rocky Pirrone from Philadelphia. Additional financial assistance and marketing for the project was provided by Al Liebmann while Bill Ellershaw and Bobby Toth are part of the crew.
The history of this car, though, actually dates back to the 1960s AA/Fuel Dragster team of drivers Norm Weekly and Ron Rivero, owner Jim Fox and crewmember Dennis Holding.
Known as the “Frantic Four,” this popular Southern California-based operation won the 1966 & 1967 NASCAR Drag Racing Division Top Fuel Championship and the famous 1968 March Meet in Bakersfield, California, with Rivero handling its wheel-standing, supercharged-and-fuel-injected Chrysler Hemi-powered “red rail.”
Then Fox moved to Broomall, Pennsylvania, and began fielding a Mustang Funny Car with sponsorship from K & G Speed Associates and he tagged his entry the “Frantic Ford.” But what makes Pirrone’s version of the car so notable is that as a nine-year-old he helped with the between-round maintenance on the mid-1970s car and his father Joe built its transmission.
First seen in 2013, the modern “Frantic Ford” has all of the latest safety equipment so it is legal to run at any National Hot Rod Association or International Hot Rod Association track. And its 120-inch-wheelbased, wide-style chassis and period-correct, elongated fiberglass body (the mold was taken from Gas Ronda’s original 1969 Ford Mustang) were each built by Steve Grunewald and Dale Smith at Coyote Composites in Jupiter, Florida.
Under the hood, the car is powered by a nitro-fed 426-cubic-inch Chrysler Hemi V-8 engine with Enderle Bug Catcher fuel injection and a GMC 6-71 supercharger. Additional equipment includes: a 2-speed Lenco transmission by Boss Hydro; M&H Racemaster Tires; real 1970s-era magnesium rear wheels; dual drag chutes by DJ Safety; and, a 9-inch Ford rear end.
Simply stated, the “Frantic Ford” is the best of old and new technology and on the drag strip Pirrone’s driving efforts show quarter-mile runs in 6.50 seconds at 220 mph.
Winner of 200 Cup races, the last one at the 1984 Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway with then President Ronald Reagan in attendance, Petty continues to be one of the most popular figures in motorsports.
Now a NASCAR Sprint Cup car owner, fielding the Smithfield Foods Ford for Aric Almirola and Goody’s Powder Ford for Brian Scott, Petty is presently involved in a yearlong celebration of his 80th birthday which will conclude on his actual birthday, July 2, 2017.
During the peak of his career Petty was able to do something that most likely will never happen again and that was in 1967 when he drove to victory in 27 Cup races, 10 of them in a row. That car will be one of two of Petty’s famous race cars on display all three days of the show.
Petty will be doing an interview in front of the fans talking about his long career in motorsports and will be signing autographs, free of cost to ticketholders. Richard has one of the most artful autographs of any sports figure and it is very much sought after.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”7597″ img_size=”large” style=”vc_box_border” onclick=”link_image”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Jeff Hammond” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:22px|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Oswald%3A300%2Cregular%2C700|font_style:700%20bold%20regular%3A700%3Anormal”][/vc_column][/vc_row]
OAKS, PA – One of the most successful and popular racers in the history of the United States Auto Club, Dave Darland, will be a big part of The Pioneer Pole Buildings Motorsports 2016 Fueled by Sunoco Race Fuels and Distributed by Insinger Performance Race Car and Trade Show set for Friday, January 22 through Sunday, January 24th. The show fills 250,000 square feet of the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA with motorsports displays and over 200 race cars of all kinds.
Named by fans “The People’s Champ” Darland has enjoyed an outstanding career. Back in August he won his 100th USAC career victory taking a Sprint car win at Amsoil Speedway in Wisconsin. Darland is one of just five drivers that have been able to win championships in USAC sanctioned Sprint, Midget and Silver Crown divisions. Darland is currently third in the Amsoil USAC National Sprint standings and has four wins to his credit during the season which will be ending shortly.
The popular Midwesterner will be involved in autograph sessions on both Friday and Saturday during the three day show. In addition Darland will have his book, “The People’s Champ: A Racing Life” available at the show in the Coastal 181 display. The book, penned by well-known journalist Bones Bourcier, has received rave reviews and Darland will be autographing copies during the show. In addition the popular racer will be interviewed in the stage area on Saturday along with the author.
Publisher Coastal 181 will have a large selection of their motorsports books available at their display during the show.
Darland and Bourcier will be joining a long list of personalities and racers during the show. Unique at the 31st annual edition of the show is the fact the all personalities and racers participate in autograph sessions with no extra charge once the admission ticket has been purchased.
Included in the show will be more than 600 exhibitor booths offering products and services for the racers along with items of interest for fans including a huge array of collectibles. Many speedways and sanctioning organizations will be offering information on their events planned for the 2016 season with several using the show to release their schedules.
More than 200 motorsports vehicles representing drag racing, NASCAR Sprint Cup and everything in between including dirt track racers, motorcycles and more will be on display throughout the show. Race teams looking to gain great exposure for their team and sponsors are invited to contact Tim Hogue at 609.888.3618 to have their race car included.
Exhibit space, very limited, remains available and information, including a color show brochure, can be had at email@example.com or telephone 609.888.3618.
The very classy Crowne Plaza Valley Forge will serve as the host hotel and will again offer a discounted rate. The hotel is located just 7.5 miles from the Expo Center and is within walking distance of the popular King of Prussia Mall, the nation’s second largest retail complex with over 350 stores and close to 100 restaurants.
Again this year the Saturday night post show gathering will continue and will be held in one of the large ballrooms at the hotel with music by DJ Sound and Lighting and bar specials from show sponsor Miller Lite.
For information on the show check in at www.aarn.com.