"Dandy" Dick Landy was one of drag racing's first factory-sponsored
drivers and one of the all-time greats of Super Stock and Pro Stock.
Landy's '65 A/FX Dodge is arguably the best-known altered wheelbase car
of all time, and his prowess both behind the wheel and with mechanical
innovations remains legendary. Landy performed performance clinics at
Dodge dealerships coast-to-coast, and a cigar clamped tightly in the
corner of his mouth became synonymous with Landy - he very rarely
appeared without one. Landy won several Pro Stock titles in the early
days of the class and countless championships in both the NHRA, AHRA,
and IHRA. Dick formed Dick Landy Industries in Los Angeles, where
hundreds of race engines have since been produced, and he had a hand in
building virtually every form of racing engine known to exist. Dick
passed away in 2007.
Otto Rosenbusch is perhaps the greatest
unsung hero in the Mopar hobby. For most of his career with Chrysler
Corporation, Otto's given title was an executive in Chrysler's Special
Events and Public Relations department. During those years, he gathered
important artifacts from the company's early days; everything from
Walter P. Chrysler's personal desk to the original 1924 Chrysler
prototype touring car, thousands of smaller items, and concept and dream
cars of all shapes and eras. The collection formed the nucleus of the
Chrysler Historical Archives. His fame, however, was cemented when
Chrysler teetered on the brink of bankruptcy in the late 1970's and
early 1980's, and Otto literally dispersed the collection of cars and
relics, hiding them with trusted collectors so Chrysler Corporation
couldn't sell them off. His efforts saved the collection and virtually
everything you see in the WPC Museum today exists because of Otto
Rosenbusch. Otto passed away in 2004.
Ray Nichels began his racing career
with Midget Sprint Cars at the age of fifteen back in 1938. By the
1950's, he had formed his own company, Nichels' Engineering, and was
turning out the fastest and best-built stock car racers in the nation.
Pontiac noticed this and he began building cars exclusively for them,
until 1963 when Ron Householder of Chrysler made Nichels' Engineering
the official "house" race car builder for Chrysler. From that point
forward, Nichels pioneered NASCAR technology hand-in-hand with Dodge and
Plymouth, sharing his discoveries with other factory builders such as
Cotton Owens and Petty Enterprises. Much of Chrysler's success in NASCAR
was due to Ray Nichels, and his familiar Nichels' Engineering logo
appeared on winning cars coast-to-coast.
The Ramchargers Club
In 1959, at the Chrysler Engineering
Institute, a discussion began in the lunch room between a group of young
performance-minded engineers that they needed to form a racing team to
develop technology for this growing sport. Their groundwork led to some
of the most innovative technological breakthroughs in the history of
drag racing. The Ramcharger Club, as it was officially known, evolved
and changed through the years, with a constant roster of between twenty
and fifty Chrysler engineers serving as mechanics, technicians, and
drivers. They pioneered tunnels rams, altered wheelbase cars, Funny Car
technology, fuel injection, and countless other mechanical wonders that
became standard fare in all classes of the sport. Their familiar
red-and-white "candy stripe" Dodges were synonymous with drag racing
perfection well into the 1970's. The individual members of The
Ramchargers are too many to name here, so we wish to humbly honor all of
the Chrysler engineers and employees who gave their time and resources
to be counted among these pioneers of drag racing and performance car
Cotton Owens is one of the most
versatile all-around figures in the history of NASCAR. He began his
career in the 1950's as a driver and actually was the NASCAR Whelen
Modified division champion in 1953 and 1954. He began winning Grand
National races in 1957 and by 1959 finished second in overall points to
the legendary Lee Petty. Owens' biggest claim to fame came as a car
owner and builder, delivering Dodge some of the biggest NASCAR wins in
their history. Buddy Baker became the first driver in history to better
the 200 mph mark during a race at the 1970 Talladega 500 driving Cotton
Owens' famed #6 Daytona. When Owens finally left the sport in 1974, no
fewer than twenty-five drivers had wheeled Cotton's cars in almost 300
races and had won thirty-two national events.
Without Larry Rathgeb, the legacy of Chrysler's NASCAR domination in the
late sixties and early seventies would be quite a different story.
Rathgeb began his career with Chrysler as an engineer and worked his way
through the ranks to become the head of Chrysler's "Special Vehicle
Group" by the mid-sixties. This made Larry the "get it done" man for
securing race teams and building stock cars that won races. Rathgeb's
accomplishments with Chrysler in the sixties and seventies are numerous,
but his biggest legacy will always be that of being the man who took
the Charger Daytona and Plymouth Superbird from fantasy to reality.
Rathgeb was there when the Daytonas broke 200 mph, he was there through
the NASCAR Hemi ban and the NASCAR wing car ban; Larry Rathgeb was the
guy Ford and GM loved to hate. Without Larry Rathgeb's work, Chrysler
wouldn't have owned NASCAR for almost an entire decade.
Sox & Martin Race Team
While Ronnie Sox and Buddy Martin have
their drag racing roots back into the late 1950's, it wasn't until they
formed a friendship, and finally a team, in 1963, that history put them
on a path to drag racing immortality. By 1966 they had switched to
Plymouth, become a factory-sponsored team, and the legendary status of
Sox & Martin was legitimately on its way. From those days of running
an A/FX Barracuda, on through to running Super Stockers, and then later
absolutely dominating Pro Stock in the early seventies, the red, white,
and blue Plymouths of Sox & Martin became an American institution.
Carrying on well into the late seventies, the tightly knit crew held
together like family. For the better part of two decades, perhaps no
cars in the country were more immediately recognizable at the drag strip
than those of Ronnie Sox and Buddy Martin. Equally impressive, the cars
they built for countless customers through the years were often their
most fierce competitors. Few people literally changed the face of drag
racing in the same way as the Sox & Martin racing team did, and we
highly doubt the sport will ever see anything like them again.
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