We've been privileged to know Steven Juliano since the later half of 1989, when happenstance brought a 1969 Dart factory show car into the pages of MCG through a classified ad. Since then, he's proven himself to be perhaps the most invaluable ally and source of muscle car information our hobby has ever known. An insatiable collector, Steven's focus has always been on factory promotional show cars and promotional items from the Scat Pack and Rapid Transit System eras, but he's also had a passion for unrestored survivor Mopars, and just about anything unusual or out of the ordinary. Always eager to share his knowledge and his collection, he's opened his collection to thousands through the years, lent his knowledge and unique photos to numerous books, and he's mentored some of the biggest collectors in our hobby – Tim Wellborn among them. Literally, the Mopar hobby wouldn't be where it is today without the efforts of Steven Juliano, and he's never sought any attention or accolades for what he's done; that's not his style. Steven is a true collector, and although we've said it before, he summed it up perfectly during one of our early conversations with him, "I don't own these cars or any of this stuff – I'm just taking care of them for whoever comes after me, and they better do the same." Steven is preserving history, and enjoying every minute of doing so. That said, we can't think of anyone more deserving of attention than a man who doesn't particularly care for attention, but we're doing it anyway – Steven Juliano more than deserves it.
Ernie Derr will likely be synonymous with most Mopar fanatics for his famed #1 red-and-white Charger stock cars, which were dominant machines on the nation's USAC ovals during the muscle car era, but Ernie's successes go back long before that. Ernie began racing dirt track ovals in the IMCA series in 1950 from his home in Keokuk, Iowa. In 1953 he won his first IMCA national championship. He would go on to win another eleven IMCA championships in his long and storied career. In 1964, Chrysler lured Ernie into their camp, and right off-the-bat, he won his first IMCA race of the season behind the wheel of a Dodge, and that same Dodge took the win at the first ARCA race of the season. Then, he switched to Plymouth and racked up twenty-seven wins in his first season with Mopar. Derr won 21 of 38 IMCA races in 1965 with his Dodge, and in 1966, he repeated the feat, again winning 21 of the 38 races! His Charger won 26 out of 40 in 1967, and 19 out of 36 in 1968! That was the kind of domination this driver/mechanic had, and red/white Dodges became legendary. 1969 was the pinnacle of Derr's success, when his Dodge Charger won an astonishing 25 of the 30 IMCA national events, also claiming his fifth consecutive IMCA national championship. He would continue to race Dodges in USAC all the way up to 1975, and managed a remarkable 353 career racing victories.
Plymouth Rapid Transit System Caravan
Bob Larivee & Bill Moeller
Bob Larivee is one of the great unsung heroes of the Mopar muscle car era, as he's the man who came up with the concept of the famed Plymouth Rapid Transit Caravan of 1970 and 1971. Bob was an exec with the International Show Car Association (ISCA) at that time, and was contacted by Chrysler to put together a dream team of custom car builders to build a fleet of radical custom cars. He then devised a program to bring a rolling ISCA-style car show to dealerships across the country. It had never been done by any car manufacturer before, and hasn't been done since. For two years, Plymouth had their own traveling carnival to showcase their performance cars and speed equipment, all borne out of the mind of Bob Larivee.
Bill Moeller was the director of sales and promotions for ISCA and was the cost and logistics man for making the RTS Caravan a reality. Working directly with Chrysler and Larivee, they put the whole thing together and Moeller became the indispensable number two man in making it all work, organizing the events, keeping everything on schedule, and seeing to it that this portable car show made it to hundreds of dealerships during those two eventful years.
Summers Brothers Racing Team
Bob Summers & Bill Summers
If you want to see a piece of iconic Mopar history, interestingly, it resides at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The legendary "Goldenrod" land speed record car, restored to all its glory, sits there now looking exactly as it did when it was slamming across the salt in 1965 going 409 miles-per-hour! Ontario, California natives Bob and Bill Summers designed and built the Goldenrod from scratch, having first been to the salt flats in 1954. The boys immediately caught the need for speed, and progressively, their cars became faster and more complex. Powered by four Hemi engines, Bill and Bob created this thing from the tires up, doing wind tunnel tests at Cal-Tech and scoring major corporate sponsorship as well, which was unheard of at that time for a Bonneville Salt Flats racer. The car weighs an incredible three tons, but has less than nine square feet of frontal surface area! Bob was behind the tiller that day in 1965 when the car went 409, and that number stood as the fastest wheel-driven speed for any car well into the 1990s! Regrettably, Bob passed away in 1992, but Bill is still with us, and oversaw every inch of the Goldenrod's restoration.
Scott Harvey & Randy Graves
Tom "Tig" Tignanelli was a longtime Chrysler Race Group engineer who liked to roll his sleeves up on the weekends and have just as much fun (if not more) than everybody else on the track was having. Tom's first major mark in drag racing came shortly after the advent of the 1964 A990 Hemi cars, but the machine which made him nationally famous overnight was his radical custom A/FX Plymouth known as the "UFO." Built primarily for match racing and exhibition racing, the famous orange-and-black Plymouth soon became a rolling test bed for Chrysler performance parts, and it even sported a rounded "aerodynamic" nose by 1967, making it the only altered wheelbase car we know of that ever experimented with such a thing. From there, Tom would go on to have a series of "UFO" funny cars, and finally became part of the Mopar Missile Pro Stock team in the early seventies. Another Chrysler engineer who proved he had the chops and skills to race with the best of them, Tom left a huge footprint on the world of drag racing and Mopar performance development.
1968 Hemi Super Stock Package Cars
Since it is the fiftieth anniversary of the world's first "production" drag race cars, it's only fitting they be honored this year. The concept of a literal assembly line to build Super Stock drag cars, not legal for street use, and buy them directly from the factory or dealerships, had never been tried or even entertained before Chrysler teamed up with Hurst Engineering to do this in 1968. Unsure of their reception, or even the liability and legality of the bold venture, only fifty Barracudas and fifty Darts were built, each one being completed at Hurst's facility near the Dodge Main assembly plant, and it was there that racers or receiving dealerships generally picked their new cars up. These cars literally rewrote the books on Super Stock racing overnight, and to this day, the Hemi Super Stockers remain the fastest and most elite cars of their types. While the few originals are worth a fortune and are mostly restored today because of their historic value, the countless duplicates they inspired still rule the race tracks coast-to-coast.
Bob McDaniel at one time was the man you needed to know if you were racing a Dodge in NASCAR, starting his Chrysler career in 1954 with Plymouth in the Service Division working with dealers. In the early sixties he raced Super Stocks on the West coast, was involved with the Mobil Gas Economy Run, and Bonneville jet cars. In 1964, he transferred to Detroit into Product Planning with the circle racing group, and even ran the marine racing program during his twenty-five-year career with Chrysler.