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Thu, 05 Dec 2019, 14:32 PM

1969 A Year of Change- Part III
By Steve Reyes
Photo copyright 2019 Steve Reyes

Yes, 1969 was the worst of times and the best of times. For me, it was my last year in Northern California before relocating to Southern California. In the skies, Boeing debuted its 747 Jumbo Jet and the first Concorde was tested in France. The MLB had its first team outside of the USA in the form of the Montreal Expos. Canada struck again in the NHL with the Montreal Canadians beating the St. Louis Blues to win the Stanley Cup. For the fast food junkies, it was a good year for opening Long John Silver's in Kentucky and Dave Thomas opened his first Wendy's in Columbus, Ohio.

Both NHRA and AHRA were flying high with national events. NHRA boasted four national events and AHRA had its seven national events. In Dallas, at the first ever national event at the all new Dallas International Raceway, top fuel was won by "Surfer" Hank Westmoreland in Don Johnson's Beachcomer AA/FD. The NHRA US Nationals at Indy saw Don Prudhomme drive his Wynns Winder AA/FD to top fuel win over Kelly Brown.

Meanwhile at the movie theatres, Easy Rider and Sam Peckinpah's Wild Bunch were entertaining the masses on the silver screen. If you were in to music, then you grabbed your gear and headed to upstate New York for Woodstock or to the Rolling Stones ill-fated Altamont Speedway concert in Northern California. Yes, 1969, was quite the year and below you will find some more of the cars from that era.

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Fearless Fred Goeske had the only Plymouth Road Runner bodied funny car on tour.
Another big bodied funny car on tour was the Dodge Charger Funny Honey, a.k.a.
Bernella, Della Woods from Michigan. Della was one of two women touring in
the funny car class with Paula Murphy being the other.

Roland Leong made the switch from top fuel to funny car in 1969. The all-new Hawaiian Charger
became old very quickly at the 1969 NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California.
Driver Larry Reyes went for quite a ride when the full-size Charger AA/FC flew at the finish line.
The car was bent and beat up but repairable. Reyes was unhurt but needed new underwear.
Leong returned weeks later with a mini-Charger body.

A young top fuel novice named Kenny Bernstein was manning the controls of the
Anderson Brothers and Bernstein AA/FD out of the Lonestar state of Texas.
Carl Olson went from junior fuel owner/driver to driving Jack Ewell's thundering AA/FD.
On one of his first outings in the car Olson won Irwindale's Grand Prix of drag racing.

In the world of AA/FA, 1969 was the last year for the Mondello and Matsubara Fiat.
The car was sold to East Coast racer Rick Picard. Joe Mondello returned full-time to
his business and Sush Matsubara teamed with Joe Pisano in the funny car class.
That year was the first sighting of Dave and Lynn Hough's Nanook AA/FA.
The Hough's fielded a string of AA/FA Nanook's over the next twelve years.

Jim Maybeck and his Screaming Eagle Corvair AA/FC became the quickest
and fastest Corvair bodied funny car with a 7.32 ET at 194 mph.

Larry Huff and his longtime friend Tommy Allen raced the Bestline Product sponsored
Soapy Sales AA/FD across the USA. In the next few years Huff added a AA/FC and a
pro-stock Mopar to the Soapy Sales racing stable. The little town of Newton, Kansas,
was home base to one of the best ever independent top fuel racers, Kansas John Wiebe.
The year 1969 was his breakout year of match racing and national events. The truly
independent top fuel racer did it his way for the next nine and a half years.

Gene Beaver and the Condit Brothers (Dave, Steve and Bill) saw the money that was being made
in funny car racing so their AA/FD was sold. They purchased Nelson Carter's former Super Chief
Charger and the guys went funny car racing with their legendary LA Hooker funny car.

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