Tag Archives: Petty

Hemispherical FirePower – Chrysler New Yorker Deluxe Newport

The advantages of a hemispherical cylinder head are that it makes an efficient combustion chamber with minimal heat loss to the cylinder head, however there are numerous difficulties to be overcome to make such a head reliable and commercially viable due to the complexity of the cross flow valve gear, the need for domed piston crowns to attain the necessary compression ratio and the need for high octane fuel to prevent inefficient and destructive detonation in the combustion chamber.

Chrysler engineers began developing hemispherical combustion chambers in 1940 for an inverted V16 that powered a prototype for the P.47H Tunderbolt and was considered for the XP.60C, but the motor was so delayed it never went into production.

Later Chrysler also worked on a hemi head design with Continental for the 810hp Continental AV-1790-5B V12, air-cooled twin-turbo gasoline engine that powered the M47 Patton Tank which was manufactured from 1951 to 1953.

Chrysler New Yorker, Palo Alto Concours d'Elegance

In 1951 Chrysler introduced it’s first FirePower V8’s with hemispherical heads on the New Yorker and Imperial models and as an option for the Saratoga.

Bill Sterling and Robert H. Sandidge drove a Hemi powered Saratoga to a third place finish in the 1951 Carrera Panamericana finishing behind two Ferrari 212 Inters, less than 16 mins behind the winning car driven by Piero Taruffi and Luigi Chinetti.

Similarly Belgian Paul Frére drove Hemi powered Saratogas’s to class wins at the Mille Miglia and Spa 24 Hour races, Lee Petty won the first of his three NASCAR titles in 1954 scoring seven victories in Hemi powered Chryslers and Dodges.

Chrysler New Yorker, Palo Alto Concours d'Elegance

The grill on today’s featured car suggests that it is a Chrysler New Yorker Deluxe Newport built for the 1954 model year which was fitted with a 235 hp version of the Hemi that was good for a theoretical top speed of 97 mph.

New Yorkers appeared on the Carrera Panamericana in 1951,’52 and ’53 but were not as successful as the Saratoga, Reginald McFee scored the models best result a 12th place finish in 1952.

Today’s featured New Yorker was driven on the 2011 Carrera Panamericana by David Buchanan and New York auto engineer Raffi Najjarian dropping out on day 2, I believe they finished third in class with the same car in the 2015 edition of the event.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing these photographs taken at Palo Alto Concours d’Elegance in 2011.

Thanks for joining me on this “Hemispherical FirePower” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Ferrari Friday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


The Least Junked Car – Plymouth Belvedere

The sixth generation Belvedere, with styling overseen by Elwood Engle, was launched in 1965 with a variety of V8 engines ranging from 4.5 litre / 273 cui to 7 litre / 426 cui capacities with either 3 speed manual or 3 speed automatic transmission.

Plymouth Belvedere Wagon, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol,

In 1966 Richard Petty helped boost Belvedere sales considerably by winning seven races and his third NASCAR title a feat he bettered in 1967 by winning 27 races on his way to winning his record, for the time, fourth NASCAR title.

Plymouth Belvedere Wagon, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol,

Plymouth offered a full range of body styles on the B Platform including; 2-door sedan, 4-door sedan, 2-door hardtop, 2-door convertible, 4-door station wagon like the 1966 example seen here at an Avenue Drivers Club meeting at Queen Square Bristol.

Plymouth Belvedere Wagon, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol,

This vehicle fitted with a 5.2 litre / 318 cui motor was first registered in the UK on the 18th of September 2002.

Plymouth Belvedere Wagon, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol,

According to the Planet Junk Car Database the ’66 Belvedere was said last year to be the least junked car in America, though exactly how reliable this information based on the record’s of just 33,000 junked vehicles is perhaps open to debate.

Thanks for joining me on this “The Least Junked Car” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Ferrari Friday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


American Highlights – Goodwood Festival Of Speed

Today I am looking at some of the American highlights at this years Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Chevrolet SS, Bobby Labonte, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

2000 NASCAR Cup champion Bobby Labonte was demonstrating Austin Dillons 2015 # Dow Chevrolet SS that is run by Austin’s Grandfather’s Richard Childress Racing team.

Chevrolet Custom, BJ Baldwin, Goodwood Festival Of Speed

Twice Baja 1000 Winner and seven time US National Off Road Champ “Balistic” BJ Baldwin appeared to be having a lot of fun demonstrating the capabilities of his 850hp 2012 Chevrolet Custom.

Shadow Matra DN7, Grant Beath, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

The Matra V12 powered 1975 Shadow DN7 was only raced twice by Jean Pierre Jarrier before Matra decided to supply Ligier for the 1976 season and it retired on both occasions in Austria and Italy qualifying a best 13th at Monza, this great sounding one off is seen above being demonstrated by Grant Beath.

Plymouth Superbird, Kenny Brack, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Unfirtunately I missed Richard Petty’s morning demonstration of the 1970 #43 Plymouth Superbird, but I did catch Kenny Brack driving the iconic car in the afternoon.

Lola Ford T153, Richard Hamlin, Goodwood Festival Of Speed

The unique two wheel drive turbocharged Ford powered Sunoco Special Lola T153 was driven to a second place finish in the 1970 Indy 500 by Mark Donohue, it is seen above with Richard Hamlin at the wheel.

Swamp Rat 1, Don Garlits, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Finally drag legend Don Garlits demonstrated his 1957 Swamp Rat 1 with which he reached a world record 180mph over the 1/4 mile in 1958 and which badly burned the driver the following year when the supercharger exploded.

Thanks for joining me on this “Americana Highlights” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at some of the Ferrari’s taking part in the Goodwood Concours d’Elegance. Don’t forget to come back now !


’69 NASCAR Triple Crown – Ford Torino

In January 1969 Ford’s Atlanta Assembly plant in Georgia built a run of 500 special fast back Torino’s, featuring a slightly more aerodynamic nose said to have been developed by Holman Moody, known as the Torino Talladega named in honour of a new super speedway circuit that was to open located just down the road in Alabama.

The reason for building these cars all of which were thought to have lost Ford money in the show room was so that Ford would have a more competitive package for the 1969 NASCAR Grand National Season.

Junior Johnson ran a Ford Torino sponsored by Jim Robbins known as the Jim Robbins Special for LeeRoy Yarbrough who also drove for Robbins open wheel USAC team at Indy.

Ford Torino, Sonoma Historics

LeeRoy started the 1969 Daytona 500 from 19th place in his earlier Torino Cobra model but came through to beat Charlie Glotzbach driving a Dodge to win the richest race of the year and the US$38,950 prize money that went with it.

Mid season Junior Johnson’s cars were badged as Mercury Cyclone’s for six races and during that spell LeeRoy won The Rebel 400 at Darlington, and the longest race of the year The World 600 at Charlotte.

For the 1969 Medal of Honor Firecracker 400 at Daytona LeeRoy’s car was back to being badged a Ford Torino but with the more aerodynamic Talladega nose, starting ninth and leading 96 laps including the all important last one, LeeRoy won another US$22,175.

Ford Torino, Sonoma Historics

Starting the Dixie 500 at Atlanta from the outside of the front row LeeRoy led 142 laps to beat David Pearson Holman Moody Ford for his fifth victory of the season.

LeeRoy made it a clean sweep at Darlington by winning the oldest race of the circuit the Southern 500 and became the first driver to win NASCAR’s triple crown of the season’s richest, longest and oldest races on the schedule in a single season.

As at Atlanta and Darlington LeeRoy beat David Pearson again to win The American 500 at Rockingham and to claim his seventh win of the season which saw him finish only 16th in the end of season point’s standings thanks to only starting 30 of the scheduled 54 races, David Pearson won the 1969 Grand National Championship with 11 race victories.

Ford Torino, Sonoma Historics

Ironically the 44th race of the season saw Richard Petty lead fellow members of the Professional Drivers Association including LeeRoy to boycott the inaugural Talladega 500 due to a lack of grip on the steeply banked circuit.

The Talladega 500 went ahead without many of NASCAR’s star drivers and was won by Richard Brickhouse driving the debuting Dodge Charger Daytona model, Charger Daytona’s finished the race in the top four spots.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing his photo’s of the #98 Ford Torino Talladega, taken at Sonoma Historics last year, which I believe was driven by Ron Myska.

Thanks for joining me on this “’69 NASCAR Triple Crown” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for the last Ferrari Friday for the next couple of months. Don’t forget to come back now !


Mix’n’Match Electric Blue – Plymouth Belvedere

There are few legends in all of motor racing that are quite so enduring as that of the Petty Family, it’s not quite exclusive use of Plymouth, Dodge and Chrysler products with an electric blue paint scheme.

Plymouth Belvedere, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

Tea total brothers Lee and Julien Petty used to take time out from their haulage business and enjoy giving the local North Carolina moonshine runners a good whupping in illegal races for large bets with a 1937 Plymouth they built that was possibly powered by an in line 8 cylinder Chrysler motor.

Plymouth Belvedere, Richard Petty, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

After the ’39-’45 war Lee embraced and supported Bill Frances efforts to established a stock car series that was more formally organised and ended up winning NASCAR 3 Championships driving his own Petty Enterprises Chrysler, Dodge, Oldsmobile and Plymouth cars, which usually carried the #42, but occasionally carried the #43.

Plymouth Belvedere, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

Late in Lee Petty’s third and final 1959 championship winning season Lee’s sons Maurice and Richard Petty found they had neither enough traditional Petty white nor dark blue paint to completely cover a Plymouth that was in need of paint, not wishing to waste either pot they mixed the two together which combined to make the ‘electric’ blue that has since been patented as the same ‘Petty Blue’ seen on today’s featured ’67 Belvedere.

Plymouth Belvedere, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

In 1961 an accident at Daytona effectively ended Lee Petty’s career, but by then his youngest son Richard had just completed his first full season behind the wheel finishing an impressive second to 1960 champion Rex White with the first 3 of an eventual unbeaten career total of 200 race wins.

Plymouth Belvedere, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

In 1964 Richard by now running almost exclusively in the #43 won his first of an unbeaten career total of seven Championships starting 61 races, winning 9 of them and scoring 28 further top 5 finishes driving 426 cui Hemi powered Plymouths.

Plymouth Belvedere, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

1967 was perhaps Richards career defining season, the Hemi had been restricted to 405 cui for the 1966 season after being banned completely in 1965 as were overhead cam NASCAR projects intended for 1966 from Ford and Chrysler.

Plymouth Belvedere, Richard Petty, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

The 1967 Belvedere had not proved quite as fast as the ’66 model which Richard had used to win seven races and claim third in the 1966 championship so Maurice reskinned the 1966 winning car with a ’67 body that allowed Richard to win the 1967 championship with a career high 27 wins in a single season backed up with 11 further top fives that included an unbroken record of 10 straight wins.

Richard is seen driving his ’67 Belvedere wearing the same period correct cowboy boots as he would have worn back in the day on account of ‘they didn’t have anything else back then’.

Thanks for joining me on this “Mix’n’Match Electric Blue” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Superspeedway or Dirt – Chevrolet Impala SS

Robert Glenn Johnson, Jr hails from Wilkes County North Carolina where his father was a life long bootlegger who is said to have spent nearly twenty of his sixty three years in jail.

Chevrolet Impala SS, Robert Kauffman, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Junior Johnson also spent a year in jail in 1956 for being caught with an illegal still, but never for running moonshine twixt still and black market retailer. In 1986 Juniors right to vote was restored after President Regan granted Johnson a Presidential Pardon.

Chevrolet Impala SS, Goodwood Festival of Speed

In 1953 Junior made one NASCAR Grand National start at Darlington in an Oldsmobile which he crashed but still took home $110. By 1963 when today’s featured Chevrolet Impala SS was built Junior had won 27 top tier NASCAR Grand National races and his end of season ranking’s had already peaked with two sixth places in points in 1955 and 1961.

Chevrolet Impala SS, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Junior Drove the Ray Fox owned #3 Holly Farms Chevrolet Impala SS in 32 of the 55 Grand National races run in the 1963 season and won seven of them which included his Duel qualifying race at Daytona Superspeedway, Hillsboro, two wins at Hickory which was still a dirt track, Atlanta, and Charlotte. At the season ending race on the Riverside road course Junior showed his versatility by driving a Bill Stoppe entered Mercury to a fifth place finish from 19th on the grid.

Chevrolet Impala SS, Goodwood Festival of Speed

By the end of his career only one driver had more race wins than Junior, three time champion Lee Petty had 54 race wins, and Junior was level with two time champ Ned Jarrett on 50 race wins.

Chevrolet Impala SS, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Before hanging up his helmet for good at the end of 1966 Junior brought his own team to NASCAR’s top Grand National tier in 1965 entering 36 races of the 55 races and winning 13 of them to finish 12th in the final championship standings.

Chevrolet Impala SS, Robert Kauffman, Goodwood Festival of Speed

After a short seven race schedule in 1966 Junior focused on running his cars for other drivers which most notably included the three consecutive championship winning seasons with Cale Yarborough from 1975 to 1977 and then three more championship winning seasons with Darrell “Jaws” Waltrip in 1981, ’82 and ’85.

Junior retired from the sport in 1995 by which time his teams had clocked up 132 NASCAR race wins still only bettered by Hendrick Motorsports on 231 top tier NASCAR race victories and Petty Enterprises with 268 top tier NASCAR race victories.

In retirement Junior has kept busy running Junior Johnson Pork Skins Inc and Piedmont Distillers which produce batches of legal Midnight Moon described as “Smoother than vodka. Better than whiskey. Best shine ever.”

The #3 Holly Farms Chevrolet Impala SS owner Ray Fox got his break in after the second world war as a mechanic, he was named mechanic of the year in 1956 after cars he worked on recorded 22 race victories.

In 1960 Ray and Junior were on the John Masoni owned Chevrolet team when they won the Daytona 500.

In 1962 Ray founded his own team which ran for 12 years with 1963 being the most successful, his team recorded a total of 14 races from 200 starts before retiring, he served as a NASCAR official from 1990 to 1996. Ray passed away aged 98 earlier this year.

Thanks for joining me on this “Superspeedway Or Dirt” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Ferrari Friday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Seven Laps Led – Plymouth Savoy

“There’s no such thing as a ‘Plain Jane’ in the Plymouth line-up for 1959!” Plymouth dealers were informed and the base Savoy model proved the point with similar levels of chrome to the top Belvedere and Fury models with standard two-tone instrument panel, foam front seat cushion, dual sun visors, dual horns, and dual front door armrests.

Plymouth Savoy, Sonoma Historics,

After making 9 starts driving Petty Enterprises Oldsmobiles in the second half of the 51 race 1958 NASCAR Grand National series and winning $760, Richard Petty, later The King, continued with a 22 race schedule in the 44 race 1959 season.

Plymouth Savoy, Sonoma Historics,

Like his Dad Lee Petty the 22 year old Richard swapped over from Oldsmobiles to running Petty Enterprises entered Plymouth’s mid season. Turns out the same Petty Enterprises Plymouth’s would run in 2 door hard top Savoy form for some races and with the roof unbolted and removed in Convertible Belvedere form for others.

Plymouth Savoy, Sonoma Historics,

Lee Petty won his third and final NASCAR Grand National title with 11 race wins in the 1959 season, while Richard finished 15th in points with 9 top ten finishes and the NASCAR Rookie of the year award with his winnings for the year at $8110.21.

In his fourth drive in the Plymouth Richard recorded his first seven Grand National lead laps in the Southern 500 at Darlington where he finished 4th.

Today’s featured ’59 Plymouth Savoy is painted and stickered up in tribute to Richard Petty’s Rookie of The Year winning ’59 season.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing his photographs of the Plymouth taken at Sonoma Historics earlier this year.

Thanks for joining me on this “Seven Laps Led” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Ferrari Friday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !