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Legal Cheaters…

The NHRA Winternationals of 1967 marked the first year for its Super Stock class, later to morph into the Pro Stock category.  But in February of ’67, this new class was launched at the Pomona Fairgrounds racetrack.  It was an auspicious introduction, save for the fact there were no existing National Records for these classes against which handicaps could determined when matching various classes at the starting line. So NHRA was left to establish their own “handicaps” as derived from factory advertised horsepower ratings into what were termed elapsed time “indexes” for each SS class. 

As might be imagined, this approach provided a somewhat open door to the car companies for making certain their entries performed as close to these elapsed time benchmarks.  Add to this the fact that Ford, Chrysler and GM clearly saw the new Super Stock class as fertile rows of plowed ground into which to plant their upcoming marketing seeds on branding, in the vein of linking on-track performances with new car sales.  In a nutshell, that was the landscape.

We now switch our focus to the Wednesday before Thursday’s kick-off of the ’67 NHRA Winternationals.  The NHRA called it their “press day” and  had historically invited dozens of performance enthusiast media staff to participate in a day of at-the-track activities, including opportunities to make quarter-mile passes in one of several stock vehicles provided by the major car companies, notably Ford for that particular year.

You can visualize the scene that amounted to a collection of wannabe drag racer automotive scribes given a chance to “dial in” a batch of stock cars and then compete heads-up among their peers for a modicum of prizes.  This, combined with track-side food and exposure to a few OEM seminars intended to flavor post-race coverage in an assortment of magazines and trade papers, pretty much describes the format.

No, that’s not accurate.  There was more.  The presence of Ford and Chrysler at the event was significant by virtue of having built cars transported to Pomona and stuffing them with highly skilled and notable drag race drivers to become a part of the event’s mix.  The likes of Ronnie Sox, Don Nicholson, Gas Ronda, Don Grotheer, Ed Terry, Dick Landy, Hubert Platt and other such drivers were under factory contracts to drive these new NHRA entries in the equally-new SS classes. 

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