July 2022 MBR The Automotive Shelf

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Midwest Book Review

Aug 3, 2022, 1:59:31 PMAug 3
The Automotive Shelf

Early Funny Cars
Lou Hart
CarTech Inc.
838 Lake Street South, Forest Lake, MN 55025
9781613256985, $42.95, PB, 192pp


Synopsis: With the publication of "Early Funny Cars: A History of Tech Evolution from Altered Wheelbase to Match Race Flip Tops 1964-1975", Lou Hart showcases the evolving early years of Funny Car drag racing when doorslammers morphed into flip-top rail monsters. This was the era that featured historic mounts ranging from Arnie "the Farmer" Beswick, Al "the Flying Dutchman" Vanderwoude, and "Jungle" Jim Liberman, to Don "the Snake" Prudhomme, and many more!

The metamorphosis from doorslammers to fiberglass flip-top dragsters wasn't ever a cut and dry plan. As drag racers pushed the envelope for more speed, a series of innovations quickly evolved and refined the genre.

Funny Cars cut their teeth in the A/Factory Experimental (A/FX) and Experimental Stock (X/S) classes in 1964 with the 2-percent Mopars that looked funny with their axles moved forward. However, it was Jack Chrisman's supercharged, nitro-fueled 427 Supercharged Factory Experimental (S/FX) Comet Caliente that trailblazed the class on which the NHRA turned its back and the AHRA fully accepted. Showmanship became the draw in the dawn of Funny Car with half-track burnouts and flame-throwing headers that packed fans five deep at the fence.

By 1969, the NHRA had no choice but to create a class for these nitro-breathing, flip-top-sporting rail bruisers, indoctrinating the Funny Car (F/C) class at the Winternationals with 40 cars vying for 16 places in the field. The rest, as they say, is history!

Critique: Inherently interesting and profusely illustrated throughout, "Early Funny Cars: A History of Tech Evolution from Altered Wheelbase to Match Race Flip Tops 1964-1975" is impressively informative and will have a very special appeal to car buffs and automotive historians alike -- making it a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Automotive History collections.

Editorial Note: A life long car enthusiasts and growing up with the first sights and sounds of the muscle car conception, Lou Hart attended his first drag race at Lions Drag Strip at the age of 9 with his trusty Kodak "Brownie" camera in hand. He loved to document all his visits to the strip. Although not a professional writer, Lou Hart's views are seen through the eyes of the fan, and he strives to give back, reliving the times and history of drag racing's golden era.


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