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Monday April 7, 2014
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The Ramchargers signed photo

After the 1967 season, Jim Thornton, Tom Hoover, Tom
Coddington, Gary Congdon, Dick Jones, Jerry Donley and
Mike Buckel decided to retire. But what a ride!

(The flagman is one of the sport’s best ever; Rollin “Hook”
Brondyke. He was sharp-eyed, had remarkable physical skills
and the appropriate level of showmanship.
His feet left the ground with every start!)

From Beginning to End

From a bunch of engineers fooling around to one of the most sophisticated Funny Cars of its day - the Ramchargers made
a huge imprint on the sport of drag racing.

by Mike Buckel & Wild About Cars Staff - reprint with permission only.

There we were at the end of the 1967 season facing a decision of what to do next year. By any measure the season had been very successful with the supercharged Ramchargers car being the best Fuel Funny Car on the track, not counting the last two weeks running a crippled injected engine. I was on crutches, the first Ramcharger injury since the Wayne Erickson fatality in 1960 and we were all tired from the schedule of running the car three to four times a week all the while maintaining full time jobs at Chrysler.

Most of us had devoted virtually all our time to the Ramchargers since 1961 and even though none of us had gone through a divorce the home front was not happy. Our children were growing up with only an occasional father.

We had gone 194 mph and deep into the 7 sec. area that year and there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that 1968 would bring on 200+ mph. History records that nobody did go 200 in ’68, but nobody had a car as good as our ’67 car. 200 mph would require leaning on the engine even more with resulting higher maintenance requirements.

The discussion evolved into, “is 200 mph the time to become professional racers or revert to our engineering careers?” The guys that were associated with the dragster had no such thoughts and wanted to continue running the world’s fastest dragster. The seven of us most associated with the Funny Car, Jim Thornton, Tom Hoover, Tom Coddington, Gary Congdon, Dick Jones, Jerry Donley and myself decided to retire.

We felt that we had proven all that was to be proven and were going out on top. We took on Super Stock Dodges in 1961 when the average age of a Chrysler car buyer was over 55 years. We were the major drivers in creating a performance image for Chrysler that carried on into the ‘70s. A market survey showed that Chrysler had 38 percent of the high performance (335+ hp) while the Corporation as a whole was struggling to hold less that 13 percent of the car market.

If Chrysler had taken on a drag racing program within Engineering on a budget that would have been a small fraction of what Ford was spending - it would have been a nonproductive embarrassment to Chrysler and to all that were associated with it. The Ramchargers as a team must have done something right . . .

To Read the rest of the Finale Story - Click HERE!

To Read all the other stories in the Ramchargers Series - Click Here!

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