Hot Rods

Sox & Martin's Only Surviving'65 Altered Sedan Roars Back.

By Geoff Sturikard Photography: Geoff Stunkard

Factory- backed by the Plymouth Division in late 1964, Ronnie Sox and Buddy Martin were no strangers to A/FX racing—they had been at the heart of it since 1962. But Buddy remembers that they were not ready for what Mopar had brewed for 1965 when they arrived in Detroit for a preview of their new Plymouth race car.

"Frankly, that was unbelievable," Buddy says. "A lot of mouths dropped open when we saw that first car. We had just come to Chrysler, and we could see the potential of the program, so it was pretty exciting for us."

The factory had moved the front wheels and rear axle forward, creating among the first of the Funny Cars. Sox & Martin raced that car, named the Paper Tiger, five times a week. They received a second SS-legal race car, Paper Tiger Too, that spring

"Right after Bristol in June, we moved the rear wheels forward, and I had Dick Branst ner do the front end," Buddy says.

Both '65 models were sold to the Buckeye & Vernon team in Maryland. The first hard top, weak from acid dipping, came to an end with them. The sedan, seen here, was sold in Detroit in 1969 and ran C/Altered before being parked in an alley.

"It ended up in that alley for 14 years until a guy named Chris Taddy bought it," says Mike Guffey, the collector who did more than anyone to put these wild Chryslers back on the map. "Danny Crites of Baltimore ended up with the first Sox & Martin Paper Tiger. He told me it was held together with tape and was so weak that diey finally just cut out the suspension parts and junked the body. Once I was convinced that the original car was destroyed, I decided to try and buy the Paper Tiger Too, wh ich wasn't for sale."

Mike was persistent and he ended up with the weathered Sox car. It was never acid-dipped and therefore structurally sound, but it went to the back burner.

"A guy I knew named Mike Flynn began making noise about wanting that car," Mike says. "So eventually, I sold it through Flynn to the time. T suppose I should have kept that Sox car; it's a pretty important piece of history"

The car had its original fiberglass, Dana, unmodified firewall, and front suspension, plus parts from Mike. After bodywork by Eric Lindberg and paint by Heath Hite, it was delivered to Todd at the '08 All-Hemi Reunion in Ohio (see Jan. '09 HOT ROD).

Early Funny Cars have become celebrated icons of the '60s era. After a second year of Funny Car action in 1966, Sox & Martin returned to more sedate machinery and greater success in Super Stock, but the Paper Tiger Too is the sole survivor from their foray into match bash action. Thanks to all these guys, the Tiger Too has teeth again.

The special stainless steel K-frame engine support was relocated to move the front wheels to right behind the bumper. Everything that Dick Branstner had done in 1965 is still on this car. Also of note here are the wheels— the Sox & Martin team was one of the few buyers of Howard's mag wheels, and vintage photos show them on the hardtop and the sedan. Mike Guffey had found this set years ago at a swap meet and has never seen another. He sold them with the car to make the restoration correct.

The Hemi-Powered Plymouth logo appeared on several of Plymouth's '65 drag cars, including the Golden Commandos, Richard Petty's Barracuda, and Sox & Martin's machines. It is why some early '66 street Hemi Belvederes had a small HP2 emblem added to their décor.

As has been fondly remembered, Ronnie Sox was a master at banging gears, and the car used this white-knobbed stick to go down the quarter-mile. Increas-ingspeeds resulted in many AWB cars getting the ubiquitous TorqueFlite automatic, though that device could have explosive complications when mechanical parts failed.

The first '65 Hemi in the Paper Tiger Too was long gone. Eric Lindberg built another using many vintage parts, including the short Hilborn injectors often used on four-speed cars. The tall stacks were used on the automatic entries favored by most other drivers.

This A990 sedan was received in March 1965 and went to the final round at the NHRASpringnationals in Bristol that June. The wheelbase was altered shortly thereafter. Through 1965, the team ran the two cars—the hardtop at 2,POO pounds on alcohol toward the end of the season and the sedan on gas at 3,000 to 3,400 pounds. Buddy Martin chose the paint based on the NASCAR machine of Parnelli Jones and Bill Stroppe and carried them over from the Comet of 1964.

The BMR roadster is based on a '29 Ford body by Polyform and uses a '32 grille shell. The car weighs 3,800 pounds, which is considered light for a land speed car. Note the unique front suspension, a four-bar setup that leads with the axle and has transverse torsion bars and friction shocks behind the grille. The P8cS Funny Car steering box controls a steering angle that's just a few degrees.

The Fastest Roadster Ever at El Mirage Dry Lake

By David Freiburger

Photography: Wes Allison

This story is about the ultimate execution of hot roddings earliest directive: Take a roadster and make it go fast. It was as simple as that as long ago as 1927, which is the earliest date we've heard anyone claim for the first racing on the dry lakes of Southern California. Ed Iskenderian will tell you that he was personally there as early as 1932, and there were racing clubs that existed before the Southern California Timing Association was founded in November 1937, followed by a few other sanctioning bodies. But it's the SCTA that survives, and its Roadster class is the one with the strongest links to that most primal need.

Today, Roadster class competition exists at El Mirage Dry Lake and at the Bonneville Salt Flats, and while die briny version gets all the glory, El Mirage carries a longer hot rodding history. It's the last of the dry lakes where competition still occurs (with Muroc, Rosamond, and Harper having been forgotten by hot rodders), and El Mirage is almost literally where HOT ROD magazine got its start.

Success on El Mirage's 1.3 miles of talcum dust is also significantly more elusive than it is at Bonneville's 5 miles of comparatively tractive salt. The men of BMR Racing know this well.

BMR is Berg, McAlister, and Robinson. That's sponsor Don Berg Sr., the late proprietor of Berg Hardware in Pasadena, California, since 1923; Alan McAlister, local hot rodder; and Doug Robinson, longtime proprietor of Horsepower Engineering. Alan and Doug are partners in the well-known BMR

> This is the model of the roadster used for aerodynamic development inside Doug Robinson's homebuilt wind tunnel. We have a few suspicions about some of the lessons learned, but LSR racers keep mum on aero like engine builders do about cams.

"AFTER THAT PASS, MY FEET DIDNTTOUCHTHE GROUND FORTWO WEEKS."

-doug robinson

'32 coupe that has been featured in FIRM and was at one time driven by FIRM staffer Will HandzeL The old coupe set many records on the dirt and at the Salt, but it has now been torn down for a redo while this Roadster class car is in action.

The new car was a 10-year project, and while Alan is the owner of record on the like-painted coupe, this one is Doug's—not only in ownership but also in concept, start to finish. It was h is goal to handle every facet of the car on his own, though that fell down a bit at the end as he enlisted help. Doug is a major-league thinker, and after noodling with the full-scale car for a while, he finally went to the extreme of building his own scale wind tunnel at the shop so he could test some of his aero theories with a model of the car. That kind of determination and planning shows in eveiy detail of this car.

It also shows in the result. In October 2008, with old shoe Alan "Fogie" Fogliadini manning the throttle, the BMR entry made a glory pass at 249.129 mph at El Mirage in the C/ Fuel Roadster class, making it die single fastest roadster ever at El Mirage. There are faster Modified Roadsters—a class that allows extreme wheelbase extension and more aero mods—but this one is 5.8-plus-mph faster than the A A/Blown Fuel car of the Scott, Smith, Leggitt team that was the fastest at the lakes for 11 years. In land speed racing, 5 mph is a big margin. In the cutthroat Roadster class, it's light years.

If anyone bests this number again any time soon, we can guess who it will be. Their initials are BMR.

Paul Winson painted the roadster in the BMR signature yellow and red. The entire chassis (fabricated from 2x4 square and lVa-inch round tubing) was powder-coated prior to paint. Alan McAlister made the cute little stainless grille.

"DATA-LOGGING KNOWS MORE THAN A DRIVER. ON THE 249 PASS, FOGIE WAS PERFECT. HE NEVER LIFTED."

This»« Fogie's world at 249 mph. On bi that supports his head from side to s shifters on the Owens trans, which is a bedsides you can see the dense, SFI-approved padding sWThe butterfly wheel includes the buttons forthe air a clutchless planetary setup that defaults to high gear if the air shifter fouls.

The roadster rides on a 133-inch wheelbase. Behind the spun aluminum discs are Center Line 15-inch, spindle-mount front wheels and 18-inch Eric Vaughn custom wheels in the rear. The tires are Goodyears up front (21 inches tall); on the rear, Dunlop S.5x6.0-18s are used at El Mirage, and Mickey Thompson 30-inch LSR tires are used at Bonneville. The rear axle is a Winters quick-change with a 2.3:1 ring-and-pinion and a 2.0:1 final drive.

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