Division 4 Match Bashers

By Danny White

Gene Snow’s “Rambunctious” ’65 Dart is one of the greatest race cars of all time. Snow won two U.S. Nationals in a row with the car in ’66 and ’67. The Dart was built from a stock Dodge. Over the course of a couple of years, T-Bar Chassis completely rebuilt the car. The Dart was steel, save for the fiberglass front end. All unneeded weight was cut off, and the interior was replaced with aluminum. The Dart had windows, to begin with, but they were taken out later. When T-Bar rebuilt the car, they also lengthened the chassis.

The Dart was a good racer before the rebuild and was great afterward. Snow won the two races at Indy and countless match races all over the country. The Dart was well-known for leaving with the wheels up but going straight. Gene ran an excellent 8.61, 158.00 clocking with the car, according to www.draglist.com. Jake Johnston took over the car after Snow built his AA/FC. The Dart was a winner for its subsequent owners, Mike Brown and the Richardson family. Snow bought the car back and restored it to 1966 standards. (Photo courtesy of Bob Plumer and Drag Race Memories)

Sidney Foster was one of the first match bash racers out of Louisiana. Foster raced his T-Bolt Fairlane in Super Stock at first but quickly upgraded the car as the funny car craze began. Sid ran the “Quick Draw” out of the family Ford dealership. The T-Bolt had a 427 wedge backed with a 4-speed transmission. Foster became a regular at tracks in Southern Louisiana and Southeast Texas. The car was changed over the 1965 season, and the “Quick Draw” eventually ran as a roadster. The wheelstanding Ford ran a 10.33, 134 best, according to www.draglist.com. The T-Bolt was replaced by a new steel match bash Mustang in 1966. (Photo and info courtesy of the Foster family)

Tommy McNeely’s “Sad Sack” Falcon was remembered by many sixties drag racing fans for its wild wheelstanding antics as well as its performance. The young McNeely had previously raced 409 Chevrolets with Dickie Harrell before switching to a Ford. The ’65 Falcon was built by Hubert Platt in a basement and had to be put together outside once it was finished. The car debuted at Irwindale with Platt driving, then McNeely took over the driving. Tommy raced mostly in match bash match races throughout 1966. McNeely was known to put on a wheelstanding show when the car was ailing. But the car usually ran well, hitting 9.89, 141.60, best according to Tommy. (Photo and info courtesy of Tommy McNeely)

Kelly Chadwick’s “Wild Thing II” was one of the first Camaro funny cars built. The car was delivered to Don Hardy Race Cars as a body in white. Hardy converted the Camaro into a match bash funny car. The “Wild Thing II” began with an injected Chevrolet, but a blower soon went on the top of the engine. The “Wild Thing II” raced in 1967 and 1968 and was one of the last match bash AA/FCs to be a serious contender to win races. Kelly drove the car to an 8.35, 169, known best according to www.draglist.com with Steakley Chevrolet sponsorship. The “Wild Thing II” became too outdated at the end of 1968 and was replaced. (Photo courtesy of Bob Plumer and Drag Race Memories)

Ken McClellan was one of the best racers in Texas with the series of McClellan Bros. Fords. The Friola, Texas-based team rose to fame in this unusual Falcon. The team stuffed a 427 Ford Cammer into the altered wheelbase car. The McClellan Brothers usually ran the car on carbs and gas in C/XS, but the A/XS shown here indicates that they may have run more than gas and carbs. The little Falcon won many races until it was replaced with a new S/S Mustang. The McClellan Bros. never returned to the funny car wars but continued racing national events winning Super Stockers. (Photo courtesy of Mike Ditty)

Mike Burkhart’s first funny car was this steel Chevy II match basher. Burkhart was a terror with his Super Stock ’57 Chevrolet Bel Air in the Dallas area. In 1965, Mike built the steel Chevrolet with big block injected Chevy power. Friendly Chevrolet sponsored the stretched wheelbase car. Burkhart won many match races with the strangely painted Chevy II (red on one side and blue on the other). Mike was a regular in Texas match races with the Chevy II in 1966 but retired the car at the end of the season to build a Camaro for 1967. (Photo courtesy of Dave Ray)

The late Clester Andrews was one of Texas’ most successful racers in the first half of the 1960s. Clester’s success had come in Stock, Super Stock, and A/FX. In the A/FX wars, he won 40 of 42 match races in his Holman-Moody-built 1965 Mustang (according to the Holman-Moody website). That car morphed into his first match bash funny car. In 1967, Andrews replaced the old 1965 Mustang with a new match bash Mustang. Holman-Moody built this new Mustang as well. Ford supplied the rare and powerful injected SOHC that Jack Quinn tuned. Clester got sponsorship from Bardahl and hit the major national events with the car. Andrews raced many match races with the Bardahl 555 Mustang. (Photo courtesy of Mike Ditty)

Dickie Harrell and his ’66 Chevy II were famous match racers in the early funny car wars. This was Harrell’s second match bash Chevy II. Chevrolet’s Chevy II was supposed to be an economy car but became Chevy’s best competition for Ford’s Mustang on the nation’s drag strips. The injected big block 396 Chevrolet was not the perfect engine for racing, but Harrell made do. Dick ran the engine on low levels of nitro. Harrell was still based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the time. Nickey Chevrolet, the famed high-performance car dealer, sponsored the lightweight Chevy II. Harrell ran a known best of 9.44 at 144 with the little car, according to www.draglist.com. (Photo courtesy of Bob Plumer and Drag Race Memories)

The well-named “Funny Car” was one of the first funny cars to race in Texas. Tom McGroan owned and raced the car out of his car lot in Garland, Texas. The match bash Mopar featured an injected 426 Hemi on nitro. The “Funny Car” was a regular at Green Valley and in match races across Texas. The strange thing about the “Funny Car” was the number of drivers who drove it. Tom McGroan drove the car, as did his wife, Gladys McGroan. Rafael Shields and Brent Musgrave also drove the “Funny Car.” The Mopar ran high nines at best on the cow pasture tracks of Texas. (Photo courtesy of Flyin’ Phil Elliott)

Here is Ronald Swann’s match bash Ford Falcon. Swann lived and raced out of the Houston area in the mid-sixties. Charlie Willis and Leonard Abramcik drove the Falcon for Ronald. Carl Parrish, Sr., tuned the car and reports that the team mixed the nitro with some hydrazine, an extremely volatile and unstable rocket fuel. The Falcon featured a 427 Ford Wedge punched out to 488 cubic inches and transferred power through a four-speed Ford Top Loader with 5.10 rear gears. The setup led to wild wheelstands and woolly runs. Carl Parrish Jr. said the team raced Gene Snow all the time in match racing in Texas. (Photo and info courtesy of Carl Parrish, Jr.)