1970/71 Dodge Challenger Pro Stock
Competition # 385

The RAMCHARGERS famous Candy-Striped Dodges terrorized the competition all throughout the 1960's.  Setting NHRA records and winning championships in practically every class from Super Stock to Top Fuel.  By the time 1970 came around, the NHRA came calling with their brand new "PRO STOCK" class.  Never the team to back down from a challenge, the RAMCHARGERS were quick to answer with a Challenger of their own.  This Challenger.

Powered by the legendary 426 HEMI, and the first manual transmission in the team's arsenal since they switched to the "Candymatic" TorqueFlites in 1963... the RAMCHARGERS built a 1970 Dodge Challenger from a body-in-white, that came right from Dodge.  The Logghe brothers, Ron and Gene were known for building some of the best racing chassis in America.  So, they were commissioned to build the chassis for this car.   And it was quite convenient that their shop was located just a few miles away, in Detroit.  Staying within the rules for the class, a 426 HEMI was built in the team's machine shop in Taylor, Michigan.  Upon evaluating the weight of glass vs acid-dipped steel, the RAMCHARGERS knew that glass was heavier.  So, they opted for the RT/SE styling on their Challenger.  The reason they chose this look was to shave weight.  RT/SE Challengers built for the general public all had what Chrysler called the "Formal Roof", consisting of a smaller rear window and a vinyl top.  Obviously the RAMCHARGERS would be omitting the vinyl roof.   In order to create the "Classier" look on the RT/SE, Chrysler used a "plug" that filled in the area normally occupied by the rear window.  This plug was simply a piece of sheet metal that had an opening for a smaller window.  They were welded in place and sealed at the factory.   The window plugs were never completely finished by Dodge on RT/SE's.  Just smoothed over enough for the vinyl top to cover without seeing anything beneath it.  Being a low-production option, this was a cost-effective way to achieve the look without having to stamp an entirely new roof for the car.    Well, this car having no vinyl top, would need the plug to be filled and finished.  But not before taking a customary trip to the Acid Tank!  Like so many cars before it, the RAMCAHRGERS shaved weight on this one by acid dipping the whole body.  

After it returned, the car was painted, received the familiar Candy Red stripes applied to the roof, trunk and sides of the car.   Its first tests were done at Detroit Dragway, before the RAMCHARGERS lettering was applied to the sides.  Coincidentally the same day that their Challenger Funny Car burned to the ground.  July 21, 1970.

Famous and successful Super Stock teams and racers like Dick Landy, Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins, Sox & Martin (who would field two cars, being driven by Ronnie Sox and Herb McCandless), "Dyno Don" Nicolson and so many more were making the switch to the brand-new Pro Stock class.  Driving duties for the RAMCHARGERS Pro Stock car would be handled by Larry Cooper.   Cooper came from Super Stock Racing  as well, having had much success with his 1968 Hemi Dart.

1970 was not too promising for the Pro Stock entry from the RAMCHARGERS.  Though the Funny Car was setting records all over the country, the Pro Stock car was not quite so fortunate.  Constantly battling the chassis and suspension all season, the Challenger rarely even got out of the first round.  With the end of 1970 season, also came the end of the connection with Larry Cooper.   He left seat of the RAMCHARGERS and moved his career elsewhere.   Cooper would be replaced by driver Leroy Palarchio.  Palarchio came with credibility, having been an established driver in many classes and was fantastic with a manual transmission.  With the Sox & Martin team dominating the 1970 season with a pair of 4-speed cars, Leroy would be a great choice to compete.   The funny coincidence was that the RAMCHARGERS now had 2 different Dodge Challengers, in 2 different classes, being driven by 2 different guys... both named Leroy!  

The Pro Stock car would undergo a few changes in the offseason.  The RT/SE package would be discontinued by Dodge, so the rear window plug needed to be removed for the 1971 season.  So, it was cut out and replaced with a standard rear window.  The rest of the car's 1970 identifying components, front grill and rear tail panel, would also be updated to 1971 pieces.  Additionally, the 1970-only T/A rear spoiler would also be removed. 

Now a 1971 Challenger with a new driver, the RAMCHARGERS had high hopes that this season would be much more prosperous.   They had stumbled in the past with a lack-luster season, and always bounced back with dominance.   They hoped this would be the case in 71.   But not so much.   Leroy Goldstein was doing quite well with the Challenger Funny Car. But Leroy Palarchio was not seeing the same fortune with the Pro Stock version.  No matter what the team did, the car simply struggled all year.  The chassis never came around and they fought traction and stability problems all season.   Making 1971 a mere repeat of the season prior.   Thank God that the Funny Car was not having the same issues, and kept the teams name held in high standard.   This car, however, just wasn't right.  No matter how good the driver, the car did not comply.   So, at the end of the 1971 season, the RAMCHARGERS had had enough of Pro Stock.  Palarchio returned to the machine shop, building Hemis, and the car was sold to Bill Flynn shortly after the season ended.  Flynn converted it to 1972 cosmetics, the same way it had been altered the year before.  He then campaigned it for the next two seasons as the "Yankee Peddler", making it join a long list of famous racecars under the same name. 

When Flynn was done with the Challenger, it was again sold and again painted.  This time in dark maroon.   The former Pro Stock car was then redirected as street race car until it was put out to pasture.   Literally.   The car was found a few years ago in a cow field.  It was rescued and put into a storage warehouse, where it sits today.  




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