« PREV. PAGE NEXT PAGE »

Jim Kirby's 1968 Camaro AA/Funny Car, A Drag Racing Time Capsule

It’s a sad fact for any would-be collector of real drag racing history that serious drag cars of any type, particularly early funny cars, rarely survived many years of competition. The fragile bodywork was either trashed in an on-track incident or replaced when the next body style was available from the Big Three in Detroit. Many that avoided either fate were left to the tender mercies of the elements and have long since rotted away or met their end in a scrapyard somewhere. However there are exceptions, and a true drag racing time capsule was recently found when Jim Kirby’s 1968 Camaro AA/Funny Car, last raced in 1972, was pulled out of storage. Incredibly, the original Don Hardy-built body, with its 1969 paint scheme, was still on the original chassis! Hardy only built four fiberglass 1968 Camaro flip top funny cars: #1 was Dick Harrell, #2 Mike Burkhart, #3 Jim Kirby, and #4 Fritz Callier. For even one of them to survive is a miracle.

Certainly the car that sports the body saw plenty of action. Jim Kirby, with crew members Mike Kausch and John Martin, campaigned the car on the AHRA circuit with an injected 427 cu.in. Chevrolet engine. The car was, at the time, painted bright gold, was sponsored by Boemler Chevrolet, and was quite competitive. Kirby garnered several major victories as he ran the car through the final AHRA points race in August of 1968.

At the same time, Dick Harrell was running his blown, nitro car in a very busy match race schedule and competing in the full 1968 AHRA season. He needed a second car to meet all of his match race commitments, and so cut a deal to run Kirby’s car as a Dick Harrell team car. Part of the deal included the Dick Harrell Performance Center (DHPC) installation of a blown nitro Chevrolet engine in Jim’s car. Jim’s car was repainted in Cadillac Firemist Plum, while Dick’s was red. Kirby and Harrell, in their similarly lettered race cars, competed in several AHRA events and individual match races in ‘68. Late that year, Harrell acquired a new ‘69 Camaro ‘glass body and commissioned Don Hardy to install it on his ‘68 chassis. Kirby agreed to let Dick drive his car for several of the remaining races late in the year.  Dick won the ‘King of Kansas City’ event at KCIR in September of 1968 driving this car. In February of 1969, Jim’s car was repainted with the new Dick Harrell team colors of candy apple red with gold lace panels, and it ran as a DHPC team car during the 1969 season. Both cars ran at several major events, including the AHRA Grand American points final in Tulsa.

« PREV. PAGE NEXT PAGE »