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Home/News and Feature Articles/Car History - Car Stories/ Dodge Stories/


The Ramchargers were becoming a force in the Super Stock wars.

But the real deal was that the race fans decided that stocks in drag racing were the cat's meow!

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The '62 car did not have the best weight tranfer properties and tires were nothing more than the stickiest stock shoes one could find - but the 413 was a bear once under way.

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Ramchargers Stories - from Mike Buckel Part 08: The 1962 NHRA Nationals
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By Mike Buckel and Society Staff – reprint with permission only

We looked forward to the '62 Nationals as this was going to be the first big showcase for the maximum performance Plymouths and Dodges.  We felt that our car was among the best if not the best.  There was widespread acceptance of the Torqflite transmission by other Mopar racers after our discovery of its value.  Here, at last Chrysler had competitive cars.

At the Nationals, there were over 70 manual transmission cars who made the call for Super Stock Stick with only a handful of Chryslers represented. Most were 4-speed Pontiacs and Chevrolets who dominated the class as they had in the past, with Dave Strickler's Chevy winning at 12.97sec. 

Super Stock Automatic had over 25 entries, and all were Chryslers. The racers and fans were surprised that the cars ran times competitive with the manual transmission GM cars.  The West Coast cars, led by Ray Brock an editor of Hot Rod Magazine, shunned the 13.5:1 compression ratio claiming that it was too much for pump gasoline, and they came with 11:1 engines.  As a result they ran about 3mph slower than the high compression engined cars and went out in the early rounds.  The Ramchargers had the quickest car running 12.60sec.  But our driver, Jim Thornton, took a big of a snooze when he was against Al Eckstrand, who won the class.

The 50 fastest Super Stocks were called for Stock Eliminator.  The few Fords went out in the first round and the manual transmission Chryslers did not last much longer.

The real story is how NHRA ran the race.  Without any sort of notice or warning they ran the cars non-stop. We are still convinced that this was a planned effort to show us "smart guys" that 13.5:1 is too much.  Our car had the 6-cylinder radiator, a water pump impeller that was maybe 2 inches in diameter and a loose fan belt.  Us crew guys got water and ice to the return road to meet the car.  We also tightened the fan belt after the first round. After that iwe were spraying water into the radiator and pouring it as uch as we could over the water pump and the top of the engine. Several of our guys (and others) were hanging over the fenders and running to stay ahead of the car while we watered it down. 

Jim helped the cause by shutting off the engine as soon as the race was run.  Using this technique, we made it to the final against Hayden Proffitt in a Chevy in spite of the car noticeably slowing down. 

The NHRA scheme paid off as the Proffitt won at 12.83sec when Jim spun the tires.  I was on the return road opposite the starting line and could clearly hear the engine in detonation.

It was strange that NHRA never again attempted to run any class or eliminator non-stop.  Just before Wally Parks passed on, he acknowledged that they did not treat Chrysler fairly. The Ramchargers, from Tom Hoover on down were greatly disappointed as we felt that we had let Frank Wiley and Dodge down.  Hoover, on the spot, vowed that the '63 car would be a "real race car".

As the season closed, the well-flogged '62 car made its last pass at Muncie Dragway and was returned to Dodge. It was never seen or heard from again. (Crushed? -Ed.)

We took a short rest and began planning for 1963.  At the end of the year these W-2 forms began coming in the mail from the dragstrips that had paid us to race.  Where was the money? Well, we bought gas for the tow car, meals and motels on the road, but there were no records. So we decided that we needed to organize and keep books.  The Ramchargers Maximum Performance Corp. (RMP) was formed with Marge Hoover the treasurer.

During the '62 season several cars had shown-up with Ramcharger on the side, logical since that was on the valve covers.  So we began thinking up ways to identify our car.  Dan Mancini came up with the idea of candy stripes. He also came up with "Candystick" and "Candymatic" - and so our trademark identification was born.

Next . . .  the 1963 cars

Want to read the original coverage of the 1962 Nationals? Click HERE.

The engine that made it all happen -
the first of the Ramcharger big blocks -
the 1962 413.

The Ramchargers didn't have top speed but they had low e.t. @12.60.
(Photo courtesy of 1962 Motor Trend)

High compression (13.5:1) vs. low (11.0:1). Brock is eliminated by the Ramchargers.
(Photo courtesy of 1962 Motor Trend)

Al Eckstrand, on right, took
Super Stock Automatic when
Jim Thornton snoozed at the light.
(Photo courtesy of 1962 Motor Trend)

The finals. Even though the Ramchargers lost, the reputation of the Mopars and Dodge was made.
(Photo courtesy of 1962 Motor Trend)