1966 went down in RAMCHARGERS history as probably the most disappointing season for the team as a whole.  High expectations, and always on the forefront of innovation and success, the pressure was definitely at its highest point ever for the RAMCHARGERS.  

As always, over the winter, a new car was created.  This time, however, from the ground up.  This would be the first time that the team would not start with a Chrysler factory-built car.  With the Funny Car class making gigantic leaps in it's evolution, the RAMCHARGERS were becoming a victim of the monster that they created.   This would also mark the first time since their partnership with Dodge, that the team would not have any entry into Super Stock or A/FX Racing for the entire season.  In 1965, they only entered one race with a Super Stock entry and one race with an A/FX entry.  But after the 65 Coronet had its wheelbase altered and the term "Funny Car" began popping up at all the tracks, in all the magazines, and became an actual sanctioned class... the RAMCHARGERS were done with Super Stock.  

For 1966 they started with a hand-fabricated chassis from Woody Gilmore (whom had done their new Top Fuel Dragster the year before) and a new 1966 Dart fiberglass body for the team's car.   This was actually the very first fiberglass 1966 Dart in existence.  The team contracted B&N Fiberglass in Dayton, Ohio to use a real 66 Dart to create the molds to make this body.  Once created, the rear wheel openings were moved forward in the manner that proved to be a miracle worker in 65.  The front end of the car was also stretched to give the car a very long 120" wheelbase.   Driver's seat was pushed as far back as possible.  So much, that the top of the roll cage actually stuck out the rear window.  The passenger side door was modified to be a functioning door for driver access.  The Drivers side door remained molded closed. 

"If ya can't beat 'm, join 'm."  Is an applicable statement.  Except the RAMCHARGERS were beating them.   All of them.  They Dominated 1965, as they had in consecutive  years past.  But the competition was getting stronger every year.  And now that we weren't in the Super Stock Class, there was no need to stay bound to the unwritten rules at Chrysler of racing only what they sold.   The RAMCHARGER 426 HEMI was almost as big as the entire Dodge Dart in which it was to power!  Definitely a combination that would never be available to John Q. Public.   But that didn't stop the greatest Drag Racing team on the planet.   

The new Dart Funny Car would feature a tube-steel chassis, 472 Cubic Inch Hemi, Hilborn Fuel Injection, Leaf Spring rear suspension and slick "Tilt" front end.   Never getting an official Competition Number on its body, like the Super Stockers did in the past, this had been seen wearing Numbers 600 and 152 on its windshield.   On paper, this Dart was a beast.  In person, it was as sexy as anything the RAMCHARGERS pulled into the staging beams.  But when the tree came down, all Hell broke loose.   Well... the tires did, anyway.   

Traction was a problem from the first green light it saw.  Consistently knocking the tires off, the team fought the car all season.  Occasionally, when it did bite and make a good launch, it would always get squarely on the big end.   Crew members would frequently report that as the car went through the traps, the crew at the starting line could read the name RAMCHARGERS on the side of the car.  That is never a good thing.  And even worse when it happens at over 180 mph! 

Eventually a Coil-Over Four-Link suspension system would replace the completely inadequate leaf-spring system.  This change would help a lot.  But it would also create its own issues with now having to start from scratch with a setup that can be competitive.  A complete sweep at the AHRA World Championships at Detroit Dragway in August, as well as setting records at every track it raced at, showed that the new Funny Car had great potential.  Running deep into the 8.40's was pretty common with the Rocket-Fuel burning Hemi.   Oh yeah, this thing ran on a blend of Gasoline, Nitromethane and Hydrazine!   Constant testing and match racing helped transform a team of elite Super Stock racers into a worthy Funny Car team.  But worthy would never be an acceptable status for the RAMCHARGERS.  When you constantly set and re-set the bar as they always did, anything less than Number One is considered to be not good enough.   

Those were the standards set by this team many years before.  And they lived by that standard.  Everything wasn't as dismal as it sounds.   Continuous work with Nitromethane and Fuel Injection created more power than ever before.  When they were finished with the 66 Dart (which couldn't come soon enough), the car stood as the 3rd fastest and quickest Funny Car in the world.  As most would consider that an impeccable bragging-right, the RAMCHARGERS considered it an embarrassment and deemed 1966... a bit of a failure.   

When it was time to move on from the 66 Dart, it was John Livingston and his partner, famed Super Stock Racer, Mr. Four Speed, Herb McCandless who showed up with their checkbook. When Herb and John took possession of the Dart, they removed the "S" from the end of the RAMCHARGERS name on the sides of the car and attempted to race the car under the title "The R RAMCHARGER."   Everything else on the car's appearance was left alone.  Candy Stripes and all.  Obviously, this did not sit well with the actual RAMCHARGERS.  Mike Buckel even approached McCandless and told him he needed to paint the car and change the name.   But before Herb and John had the chance to do that, the Racing Gods had an even bigger objective to this livery.   

On Friday, May 12th, 1967, a Match Race was scheduled between the " RAMCHARGER Dart" and Huston Platt's "Dixie Twister" 1967 Camaro, at Union Hill Dragstrip in Tennessee.  With John Livingston behind the wheel, the Dart would find itself in a horrible crash, ending up on its roof.  John managed to survive the crash and continued to race for many years to come.  But the Dart didn't fare so well.   The body was destroyed.  John and Herb sold the chassis to Sherl Greer who put a new 1969 Charger body on top of it for the 1969 and 1970 seasons.  The New Charger body in metallic Blue sported the very well-known TENSION graphics on the sides, which Shirl Greer was well known for.   When Greer was ready to move on to a new Funny Car for 1971, he sold the Charger to Gary Litton, who campaigned it as his Tennessee Shaker for a couple seasons.  It changed hands at least two more times after that.  From there, the Woody Gilmore chassis which was once a RAMCHARGERS Dodge Dart in a former life, slipped into obscurity.



If you have any information, photos or stories of this 1966 Dodge Dart Funny Car, or know the whereabouts of the chassis that motivated Sherl Greer's and Gary Litton's 1969 Charger funny car, please contact us below.

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