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Sun, 31 Dec 2017, 09:35 AM

Recycled Funny Cars Part I
By Steve Reyes
Photo copyright 2017 Steve Reyes

I guess these days everything that can be recycled is recycled. The list grows everyday of items that can be re-used or made into usable products to benefit everyone. However, drag racers were ahead of the curve for years. How did they do it? They refurbished old funny cars and raced with new owners and drivers, of course. Heck, why waste a slightly used low-mile funny car? Purchase the car, drop your engine in it and slap a new coat of paint on it and go racing. Many a team has recycled, from guys starting out, to seasoned, veteran funny car racers.

When funny cars became a fan favorite, quite a few top fuel dragster owners decided to change nitro classes and make some of that big match race booking money. One of those teams was Gene Beaver and the Condit Brothers; Dave, Steve and Bill. They had been racing top fuel cars for quite a while in California but the writing was on the wall, funny cars were the way to go. The team looked for a slightly used funny car and found Nelson Carter was selling his Super Chief Charger to make room for a new "Chief." The two struck a deal and the LA Hooker funny car team was born.

When Jim Liberman became popular, he needed more cars touring so he consulted the drag racing classifieds for new/old race cars. In 1969, Marc Susman's Nova quickly became a team Liberman Nova and in 1971, Liberman purchased the Kirby Brothers Camaro for his touring fleet. Later, when the car was to be replaced, Liberman, recycled it to the Wahley Brothers and it became their Warlord Camaro AA/FC. I guess one of the first recycled funny cars that I noticed was the Hemi-Cuda. The rear engine 'Cuda funny car made its debut in mid-1996 at Lions Drag Strip with Tom McEwen at the controls. On its first full run, the 'Cuda flew when entering the finish-line lights. The car took quite a tumble but McEwen walked away from the rather bent race car. In stepped Fred Goeske and with a bit of bargaining, Fred owned the very used 'Cuda. Goeske debuted his old/new funny car at the 1967 Winternationals at Pomona, California. From there, Goeske had a very successful "flightless" tour in 1967 and then debuted a new front engine Hemi 'Cuda for 1968. Of course, with promoters and fans clamoring for more funny cars, the recycling of funny cars took off in the early 1970s. It certainly was a crazy time drag racing!

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When Southern California funny car racer Steve Bovan replaced his Blair's Speed Shop Nova funny car
in 1967, the well-used Nova found a new home in Northern California. The new owners were Ed Carter
and Bob Little. They did a complete overhaul on the Nova naming it Chevy II Heavy and then they went
funny car racing for the 1967 season.

Timing can be everything in drag racing. Randy Walls proved that with his purchase of Hayden Proffitt's
Corvair funny car. Walls had his Super Nova funny car run into by Frankie Pisano with the Pisano Brothers
funny car. Both cars were destroyed in the finish-line collision. At the same time Proffitt was selling his
'67 Corvair funny car. Walls needed a car to replace his wrecked Super Nova and Proffitt's Corvair filled
the bill and kept Walls match racing until his new Super Nova was finished.

This one is a bit puzzling for me, NHRA had just outlawed Jeep bodies in funny car so Gene Conway put
his Destroyer Jeep up for sale. Ken Coleman purchased it to race at local funny car events. Coleman soon
removed the blown engine out and took the Jeep bracket racing at Southern California race tracks.

Candies and Hughes sold their 'Cuda to Tom McEwen in early 1969. It was McEwen's first funny car
in which he raced for the 1969 season. Later in 1970, McEwen debuted his Hot Wheels Duster and
since he didn't need the Ex-C&H 'Cuda, he sold it to Atlanta Speed Shop owner Julius Hughes. Hughes
raced the car in AHRA and match races across the South.

When Gene Beaver and the Condit Brothers saw the success of the funny car class, they parked
their Beaver Brothers and Condit AA/FD and went funny car shopping. Their search netted one
slightly used Super Chief Charger funny car. Nelson Carter's new Super Chief was almost ready
so the old one needed a new home. With the deal struck, the old Super Chief became the first
in a series of Beaver and Condit LA Hooker funny cars. The LA Hooker funny cars became one the
of the most popular on the West Coast and the tour circuit for funny cars nationwide.

When Michigan funny car racer Dick Loehr was approached by Ford in late 1969 to oversee a
new pro stock factory team, Loehr's Stampede funny car went up for sale. Texan, Bob Veleska
took advantage of Loehr's sale and the ex-Stampede Mustang found new life in the Lone Star State.

One of the largest recycle projects was done by Fred Goeske. Goeske took the slightly bent Hemi-Cuda
and put it back on the drag strip after its 1966 Lions drag strip flight. The Hemi-Cuda saw new life at the
hands of Fred Goeske and raced the entire 1967 season without flying. Then it was replaced by a new
front engine Hemi-Cuda at the beginning of the 1968 season.

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