Those first steps of the funny car pioneers...from the early A/FX "let's slide the body back, they'll never notice it" years,
pretty much up to when the names changed from the "Blue Max"and such, to "Big Beer Company Here"!

I tell ya, the stuff flying in over the wires is amazing! Everything shows up from professional photographer stuff to kids with Instamatics...and you know, the quality of the photo really doesn't matter. It's the subject, and the time...we'll never get back to this magic time again, so we just may as well enjoy what we can see. It's all good.

We continue adding photos and info as they come in, and as we find it. Again, we're striving to identify as much about these photos as we can, such as the tracks, the drivers, the dates, the photographers, and any clever anecdotes about the particular racers. If you've got pictures and/or information, hey, don't be shy. Send it on over!

One thing we don't have, though, is photos for sale.
Most the photos on this site are unpublished, and are the copyrighted property of the individual photographers.

Check the Links page for photographers, and their contact information...

If there's something you don't see here, and you've got pictures of it, either scan 'em and send 'em in, or e-mail me and we'll work out something.

These pages are rather large, with lots of pictures, and it might load a little slow. Sorry.

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Ewald's first racecar
  I couldn't help myself...

Don Ewald's first race car. Looks a little funny...but you gotta start somewhere!

J & M Racing photo
Photo by John Ewald

Wonder Wagon

Lord a'mighty! It's tricky tracking this info down...Okay, Don Rackemann got the original ITT Baking deal (Wonder Bread), had the two cars built, installed Kelly Brown, and Glenn Way as drivers...Now, could someone tell me, when did Schumacher take over this sponsorship? It's obvious that he did (look above the "Wonderwagon" name), and not too long after the cars started running, either...

More info has come to light on the Wonder Wagon deal. Gary Gabelich first wrecked one of the wagons on a test and tune night at OCIR. Brand new car, didn't make it 600'. Then Kelly Brown (below) and Glenn Way started out, with a pair of Vega Panels, and both crashed their respective rides. At this point, ITT Baking pulled the sponsorship from Don Rackemann, and awarded it to one of the most successful Funny Car owner/driver's of the time, Don Schumacher. What you see in the above photo, I believe, is the only time Schumacher ran the panel body, at Union Grove. He also crashed that day. Vega panel, gone. Barracuda, next.


This shot was taken at New England Dragway, and the car was just there for display. Don was running one of his Barracudas on the track this day.

James Morgan Photo

This looks like Kelly Brown, and it doesn't look like the car's handling all that well.. still Don Rackemann's deal at this point.

photo courtesy of Jim Kampmann

So, when was the last time you saw a Barracuda on a bread route? Don Schumacher went to the Cuda body (well, he was only running 3 of them at once, anyway)when the Vega Panels proved far too evil handling. But he wasn't done yet...

pic provided by Jim Kampmann

Eastern Raider

Al Hanna's Eastern Raider Mustang II. Al went to Jet Funnies not long after this...

Mark Hovsepian photo © 1998

American Bandstand Corvette

Don Hampton's American Bandstand sponsored Corvette Funny. This car was unique in that it was one of only a handful of twin engined funny cars. The basic engine and chassis setup had been running since the early 60's before Don put a Corvette body on it and went funny car racing!!

Bob Plumer Collection

American Bandstand Corvette

What you can't see here, is how the engine were mounted. They were side by side, with one engine facing forwards, and the other facing back. The flywheel on one engine drove a gear on the crank snout of the other engine, which sent the power to the clutch.

This car was destroyed in Australia on the first date of 5 scheduled match races, when after crossing the finish line, Don went to turn off the track, and his opponent in the other lane drove right into him, T-boning the car at the turnout.

Bob Plumer Collection

This is Mr. Norm's 1970 version of Mr. Norm's Charger. Kenny Safford was the driver, and Gary Dyer is tuning here.

Jon Asher photo

Kenny Safford in the Mr. Norms Charger at Irwindale. Kenny ran a 7.04 in this car.

Mr Norms Challenger

Mr. Norm's 1971 Challenger. Gary Dyer back in the drivers seat. This car turned a best of 6.725 at 215 MPH.

Bill Schaible photo

The follow-up car to the '69 Charger for Farkonas, Coil and Minick. The 1972 Chi Town Hustler.

Jon Asher photo

OCIR Manufacturer's Meet Program

Boy, don't you wish these were 50¢ now?

Program for the 5th annual Manufacturer's Meet at Orange County International Raceway

Bob Plumer collection

Lime Fire

Clare Sanders in the Lime Fire Barracuda at Lions Dragstrip

photographer unknown

Mazmanian Cuda

Big John's Barracuda. When AA/GS started going to the late-model bodies, Big John looked at the numbers and figured, "why have a car that looks like a funny car, but goes 1-2 seconds slower, and makes less money, but costs about the same to race?" Hence his entry into the fuel funny car ranks. His nephew, Rich Siroonian driving here.

photographer unknown

Setzer Vega

Barry Setzer's Vega, with Pat Foster up. This car was a killer at the time, but Barry ran into the "Pink Cash Register", and decided to pull out of fuel racing. He then went Pro Stock racing, with mixed results.

Just a note, Kelly Brown also drove for Barry Setzer.

Photo by Bill Schaible

Voodoo Vega

Voodoo Vega, the box art car for Aurora's 1/16th scale Funny Car model. Tom West took this shot and there's quite a story that goes with it. I'll let Tom tell that...

"The car is the Alcohol version of the Voodoo, a Vega Funny car that we ran with the Aurora A/FX sponsorship shown on the side, and with actual support from Speedwin Automotive on Long Island. The car began life as the Jim Murphy "Holy Smokes" Satellite, one of my favorite Funnies of the day. He crashed it at New York National on Long Island. Evidently, Al Bergler picked up the pieces from him, rebuilding the chassis and mounting the Vega body as a backup for his car in '72. He revised his operation and the car was sold to a group of us on Long Island. The team that started the car included Sam Hagan, the driver (drove Top Fuel cars for Eddie Akem at A&P Automotive), Dick Moore (Sam's partner in a body shop), Paulding (can't remember his first name, and me. It was only a tribute to how easy it was to assemble a race car at that time that we ever got it on the track. Akem knew engines, but sort of directed us. We eventually blew the thing up at Englishtown on one of our test sessions (something about plugging up the fuel system with blow mold chips because they refuse to strain the fuel, clean out the new fuel cans, and forgot to load the strainers into the truck ... but that is a different story). Since that pretty much ran us out of money, we brought in Richie Sullivan (a tremendous chassis builder who used to do all the cars for Billy Mitchell when he was doing all those neat VW and Porsche engined cars). Sullivan's main claim to fame was that he had run a Top Fuel car the year before, spending $100K, and netting a total of $100 in round money. Just our kind of guy. Richie rebuilt the interior, and the car was reconfigured to run BB/FC, which is what you see in the photo. This was at Englishtown (couldn't you tell) at the Springnationals in 1974. Bruce Larson, who was also running BB/FC at the time, started his burnout and fogged in the place. I was standing there waiting to get a rear shot of Sullivan on the burnout, but he wouldn't move. He finally moved, and I waited for his smoke to build, hoping that it came up before he ran into Larson's smog bank. I shot this just as he hit the smoke."

Holy Smokes

Speaking of Holy Smokes, here it is. Jim Murphy's Mini-Satellite AA/FC. There's a story behind this which connects kinda, with the Voodoo Vega above...

"Murphy crashed at New York National, brought the pieces to the Circus . He determined it was cheaper,easier & faster to just mount a new body. So, he just left the broken body with us. After a few weeks, a couple of the neighborhood kids asked what we were going to do with the broken-up body. We told them they could have it. They carried it away to one kids house, patched it together,hoisted it up in a tree & made a Tree-Fort out of it! During the summer,it was hidden by the trees but in the winter, there was "Holy Smokes!" in purple and orange, 10 feet up in the air! It stayed there for a few years! It became kind of a neighborhood landmark. "Those were the Daze!" Franko

Franko is Franklin Amiano, in New Jersey.

Photographer Unknown


66 Stardust

Don Schumacher's first funny car.

Dept. of Corrections: Just received!!

All fiberglass body, by Fiberglass Ltd., chassis by R & B Automotive, and it was NEVER a Mr. Norm car, before or after Don ran it. Thanks to Ron Pelligrini for the updated info.

Photo-Bob Plumer Collection

Warren Gunther's Durachrome Bug

Rat motor powered, short wheelbase, dubious aerodynamics...a Fun car all around!

Don Shumacher 1971

Don Schumacher's 1971 Barracuda Funny.

Tom West Photo

Now this agrees with Joel Naprstek's version of what constituted why they were called "Funny Cars".
Look at that wheelbase shift! Don't know exactly who's driving, Cecil Yother, or Tom Grove.

John Durand Photo © 1997

Bruce Larson in the first USA-1. 1966 Chevelle, steel bodied, with 'glass nose, doors, trunk lid. And Chevy POWERED!

John Durand Photo © 1997

Chrisman's Comet

From Byron Stack, Chrisman's Comet at Fontana in 1965 before being converted into the red 1965 Comet.

Blue Max

The Blue Max, on a west coast swing. This is the '76 edition, otherwise known as the "bob-tail" car. Thanks to Mike Boersma for the fact-checking.

Bob Thompson photo

Dennis Geisler's Impulse Vega

John Lindsay's Impulse Vega. I believe this car did double duty as both an AA/FC and an AA/FA. With just a body swap, he could run both classes. Mike Boersma comes to the rescue again.

Bob Thompson photo

Geisler's Vega AA/FC

The Impulse Vega, rear view.

Bob Thompson photo

impulse run

Lindsay's Vega on a run!

Bob Thompson Photo

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Know something I don't about any of these pictures?

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Jim Sorenson

(206) 632-4969

The Funny Car Pages are copyright Jim Sorenson © 1999-2001 all rights reserved.
All copyrighted material herein is used with the permission of the copyright holder, and may not be used in any way or in any form without express written permission.