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Wed, 04 Jan 2017, 09:34 AM

The Mouth of the South
By Steve Reyes
Photo copyright 2016 Steve Reyes

Hubert Platt, drag racing's "mouth of the south" has been silenced forever. The popular funny car super stock and pro stock pioneer/driver has passed away at age 83. I would say that Platt made a full circle from super stock to A/FX funny cars and then back to his door slammer beginnings and finally to pro-stock. Hubert rise to fame as one of those "southern style" match racers in the same vein as Don Nicholson, Ronnie Sox, and Phil Bonner. These guys laid the ground work for the popularity of stock-bodied drag race machines. I first met and photographed Hue Baby at Fremont, California in 1966. He had traded his 1965 Falcon door slammer for an altered wheelbase sleek long-nosed A/FX Mustang. With his Mustang, he traveled across the United States match racing and delighting early A/FX funny car fans. A towing accident destroyed his popular Mustang but Platt wasn't without a ride for very long. Soon he was at the wheel of an A/XS Mustang under the Brannan/Paul Harvey Ford sponsorship.

The late 1960s were a great time for Hue Baby as he drove a Ford factory 427 Fairlane in the SS/B class. After that he drove a new Cobra jet Mustang in 1968. Noticing the talent of Platt, Ford asked him to head up their super clinic program with fellow Georgia racer Randy Payne. The program was a big hit with Ford fans and just when things were going great for the two Georgia-based racers the ceiling fell in on them. Ford pulled the plug on the whole program. No more factory support. Undaunted, the "mouth of the south" worked his gift of gab and managed to get support for his pro-stock venture from Delta Airlines and Falstaff beer even without factory sponsorship. In 1973, Hubert held his own against the factory sponsored teams of the pro stock class as long as he could racing against the teams with factory sponsorships and big bucks until it proved too much for Platt. Even so, Hubert Platt forever made his mark in the sport of drag racing.

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It was the summer of 1966 and Hue Baby was on tour with his altered wheelbase long-nosed Mustang A/FXer. Here at Fremont, he took on Mr. Chevrolet, Dickie Harrell, in a two out of three match race. The funny thing about this match race is that it was the secondary match race of the day at Fremont. The headliner match race was Stone, Woods, and Cook AA/GS vs. Big John Mazmanian's AA/GS. Funny cars just were not as popular as the AA/GS coupes were in 1966.

As 1968 rolled around, Platt was on tour with his Paul Harvey Ford sponsored door slammer. I caught up with him racing at Fremont, California's King of the Super Stock event. Just prior to his visit to Fremont, he did battle with Bill Jenkins at the 1968 NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California.

A couple of late 1960s rides for Hue Baby were the Tasca Ford Cobra Jet and the Paul Harvey Ford Cobra Jet. In the photo of the Paul Harvey Cobra jet, Platt is racing long time friend and foe Ronnie Sox at the NHRA Winternationals.

Things were looking up at the start of the 1970s with the new pro stock class. Platt and Payne were running the Ford Drag Team Clinic program and of course, racing in pro stock. Just when things were jelling for Hue Baby, Ford pulled the plug on its support of drag racing thus ending the clinic program and Platt's big time sponsorship.

Undaunted, Platt continued to race and late in 1971, he won one of his few major victories in pro stock by winning the Las Vegas open at the Stardust Race Way. Hue Baby popped the cork on some champagne while his crew checked out the high flying cork. To the far right is Jerry Coley, Platt's crew chief and good friend.

As a privateer, pro stock racer Hubert Platt and his Platt and Yates Maverick, did not run many national events. His money was made match racing all over the United States. Still with a full calendar things could be tough without a sponsorship but Platt pressed on.

Platt wasn't afraid to put on a show for paying customers and promoters. His funny car style burnouts would have the crowd cheering heartily. These burnouts were hard on parts but Platt knew a great show would mean more bookings down the road.

The Hubert Platt Pinto pro stock did have some sponsor help from Delta Airlines and Falstaff but the high costs of racing a pro stock ate into the sponsorship money very quickly. With his last venture into the pro stock class, there was a familiar name on the side of his Pinto, Paul Harvey Ford. Platt raced until 1977 and then the "mouth of the south" called it quits.

Attending the Super Stock Reunion in Virginia in 1995, Platt was never at a loss for words and delighted his fans with stories of the early A/FX days while signing autographs. Hue Baby was a one of a kind, old school, in your face racer as well as a pretty nice guy.

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