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O.C.I.R-1st Manufactures Funny Car Meet-Review (1 Viewer)

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53 years ago one the most innovative events was run, a race that is in my all time top 10 races I have seen since I started in late 1963. The very first Manufactures Funny Car championships at Orange County International Raceway.

*The idea, this event was the brainchild of Mike Jones and company, a unique promotion that would set standards near the end of the tracks 4 months of first year operations. Since Funny Cars had just exploded in 1967 in popularity, even more so than 66, this was hopefully going to be huge, it was. The date was set, November 25, 1967.

*The format, an original for sure. Six teams, 5 cars per team in a points earning format, 30 cars total with 15 alternates for a total of 45 Funny Cars. Each team member would earn 1pt. for a winning run while the alternates, if needed, would earn a 1/2 pt. for a winning run. There would be 3 rounds of team racing. 2 winning cars with the lowest et's would race for the overall win.

*The teams. 14 states were represented this race day.

*The cars, what made this race so awesome was the fact that there were injected, left-hand steer, nitro door cars, supercharged left-hand steer cars, flip top injected and supercharged cars. The were SOHC, Pontiac, Chevrolet, and Hemi powered rides.

*The teams.
**Team Chevrolet**
1.Doug Thorley-"Dougs Headers" Corvair
2.Terry Hedrick-"Seatons Shaker"-Corvair
3.Dick Harrell-"Mr.Chevrolet"-Camaro
4.Kelly Chadwick-"Professor Kelly"-Camaro
5.Ron O'Donnell-Chapman Auto Camaro"-Camaro

**Team Ford**
1.Gas Rhonda-"Russ Davis Ford"-Mustang
2.Tommy Grove-"Ford Charger"-Mustang
3.Tom Snodgrass-"Psycho"-Mustang
4.Larry Fullerton-"Trojan Horse"-Mustang
5.Dick Loehr-Max Curtis Ford"-Mustang

**Team Mercury**
1.Don Nicholson-"Eliminator 3"-Comet
2.Eddie Shartman-"Air Lift Rattler"-Comet
3.Jack Christman-"Kendall GT-1"Comet
4.Pete Gates-"Gate Job"-Comet
5.Dee Keaton-Keatons Comet"-Comet

**Team Plymouth**
1.Butch Leal-"California Flash"-Barracuda
2.Clare Sanders-"Limefire"-Barracuda
3.Fred Goeske-"So-Cal Plymouth Dealers"-Barracuda
4.Cecil Yother-"Melrose Missile"-Barracuda
5.Larry Reyes-"Super Cuda"-Barracuda

**Team Dodge**
1.Al Vanderwoude-"Flying Dutchman"-Dart
2.Charlie Allen-"Charlie's Dodge"-Dart
3.Rich Hammons-"Sampson Dart"-Dart
4.Rodger Lindamood-"Color Me Gone"-Charger
5.Gary Dyer-"Mr. Norms Super Charger"-Charger

**Team Pontiac**
1.Roy Gay-"Gay Brothers Pontiac"-Firebird
2.Don Sappington-Firebird
3.Rusty Dellings-"New Breed"-Firebird
4.Lew Arrington-"Brutus GTO"-GTO
5.Lew Arrington-"Brutus Firebird"-Firebird.

*Some of the alternates,Pisano Bros.-Hairy Canary-Speed Sport Cuda-Jungle Jim-Randy Walls-Parts Mart Camaro-Vicious Vette-Misfit Chevy

*Arriving and early day action. Dad and I decided with all the hoopla, advertising and this being a huge race, we better get there early. Pre-race was at 5:00pm. The show at 6:00pm. We arrived to a already busy track and parking lot at 12:45pm. We sat on the spec. side, 1st grandstand, top row on the aisle. At this point in the day, we knew the place was going to be packed. It was, 16,300 fans filled every seat, crack and crevice of the joint. After the blanket was put down (I still have the blanket today!) we took a pit walk on the other side of the track. It was more than awesome to see the incredible talent assembled, all the stars and cars of the year, some we had seen, some had not. When we returned to our seats later on, Jack Christman was on a check-out pass when he va-voomed the supercharger and blew the roof off, he was done. Same for Tommy Grove, a ka-boomer.

At 5:00pm. they had all the starters on the track, by team. Spotlights highlighter each driver by team ad introduced by the announcer. That was very cool.
**The Race**
Three rounds, 15 races per round starting at 6:00pm. The place was jam-packed. What a show!!!! After 3 rounds of racing, Chevy and Ford were tied in points at 9. O.C.I.R management broke the tie by adding up the elapsed time of winning runs. Chevrolet won the team title.

**The overall title**
The 2 contenders for the overall crown, "Fast" Eddie Shartman vs. Roy Gay. Just before 1:00am. Shartman won the race with a 7.86 over Gay's distant 8.10.
**Track Records**
ET.-Eddie Shartman-7.85
Top Speed-Doug Thorley-191.88mph.

**Post Race**
The second the race was over off to the car we went. Dad was very savy on where to park for a quick get away. About 1:15 we pulled out of the track for the 70 minute drive home. We had been at the track for some 12 hours. I sacked out while dad drove home getting home somewhere around 2:30ish. I never missed a manufactures race in the following years.

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I was 11 years old in 1967 and I had never seen a drag race or even been to California but I bet that was an awesome thing to experience. I'm just curious how long it took to clean up an oil down back in those days? I have been drag racing slot cars for about 25 years and back in the earlier days it was not uncommon to start racing on Sat afternoon and finish around 2.00am Sun morning due to the amount of classes and the large car counts. Now, if we are not finished by 10.00pm on Sat night everyone starts whining... especially if their not winning. :)


Nitro Member
I never went to OCIR until after I got out of the USAF in 1968. Always remember what an impression that place made to me. I saw some of the F/C meets there. The one that stand out to me was when the Blue Max ran that 6,72 ET, quickest ever. I was stunned, that was a good ET for T/F. One thing I remember about the MFGR meets was that after awhile they had to add an "outlaw" class, cuz so many racers were switching to Chrysler engines. No more Fords or Chevys or Pontiacs or even AMC engines (Hayden Proffit's AMC F/C). Also amazed that some of those cars survive today & have been restored.

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Cliff, they called that class the "wacky" racers.

A couple more thoughts on this race.
Terry Hedrick, driver of the Seaton Shaker Corvair was something to watch. Just the opposite subtle. We has seen Terry brutalize the car it seemed in the fall races in So-Cal. He had pulled some mammoth wheelies at Lions and some hairy runs at Irwindale. Come the Manufactures Race, dad pointed out to me before round 1 to watch this car closely. It must have some what made Pete Seaton cringe as Terry showed no mercy to the car, just beating the S%&# out of the thing before the race. Terry won all three rounds I believe.

The leapers, both Rich Hammons and Charlie Allen's Dart's just leaped off the ground in pre-race burnouts and at the start of the race. They were fun to watch.

Best burnouts, this was a very easy one. Al Vanderwoude's Flying Dutchman Dart was the king this night. This was way before bleach/water burnouts. Vanderwoude would start the car, pull forward about 15 ft. from the line, stop, then just mash the gas and boil the hides fogging the interior of his cool green ride.

Best whiff of old school nitro, mid afternoon, Ron O'Donnell in the Chapman Camaro warmed up in the pits, remember weed burner headers? he fire that thing, I was about 10 ft. away in the line of fire from the pipes, got a superb sniff of that early day pineapple juice. Kinda cool how the cars were self-starting.

Dad and I ate about 3:00pm. and the lines were big then, the concessions were overwhelmed in my view the rest of the night.

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Nick Name

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Lions one night, Terry Hedrick stood the Seaton Shaker right up vertical and it seemed to just stand there forever. Thousands of spectators and you could have heard a pin drop, as they waited to see if it was going to fall backwards or come down of the wheels. Wheels it was and they were obviously finished for the night.

J. S.

Nitro Member

By chance do you have a list of winners of the first 3 or 4 Manufactures Meets? How many years did they run that race? I went to the '69 race as an 8 year old with my Dad and since this was a year of heavy rains in So Cal, I seem to recall that the race had to be postponed at least once due to the weather.
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