Mostly Stock

Drag Racer - - Contents -

WHEN RANDY TRAVIS SANG THIS SONG, HE SAID HE WAS EXHUMING THINGS BET­TER LEFT ALONE. When Craig Sul­li­van was look­ing to brand his ’69 Dodge Charger Pro Mod, the bone­yard of rac­ers past proved to be a great source of in­spi­ra­tion.

Chris Davis of Kryp­tonite Kus­tomz de­vel­oped the art­work de­pict­ing what ap­pears to be a rusted, weed-cov­ered ex-Richard Petty Dodge Day­tona that’s risen from the dead to be­come a blown Pro Mod­i­fied. Like a hun­gry zom­bie pro­vok­ing shock and awe, this cre­ation draws a crowd even when sta­tion­ary.

Sul­li­van’s ride sparks yet an­other re­ac­tion from some gray-haired drag rac­ing faith­ful as they re­mem­ber when Richard Petty for­sook stock cars to go drag rac­ing.

In 1965, Petty, com­ing off his first stock car rac­ing cham­pi­onship, boy­cotted NASCAR when it banned the 426 Hemi from com­pe­ti­tion. While other Mopar teams opted to race in the USAC se­ries, Petty went drag rac­ing.

Petty En­ter­prises found drag rac­ing to be rather lu­cra­tive on the match-race cir­cuit with his “out­lawed” Ply­mouth Bar­racuda, but tragedy struck early in the 1965 sea­son. While com­pet­ing with Arnie Beswick and Hus­ton Platt, Petty’s car veered into the crowd killing an 8-year-old boy and hos­pi­tal­iz­ing six other peo­ple. Le­gend has it that a dis­traught Petty re­turned home, cut the car up and buried it where it re­mains to this day.

Faced with the obli­ga­tion of hon­or­ing con­tracted match-race dates, Petty En­ter­prises built a sec­ond car dubbed “43/Jr.” He would go on to win class at the 1965 NHRA Spring­na­tion­als be­fore re­turn­ing to NASCAR com­pe­ti­tion later that year. The ’Cuda was later found and re­stored at Petty En­ter­prises be­fore pass­ing into pri­vate hands. It’s still shown oc­ca­sion­ally.

Upon his re­turn to stock car rac­ing, Petty re­mained there, even though NASCAR had a drag rac­ing se­ries. In 1967, he won his sec­ond NASCAR cham­pi­onship in a Ply­mouth. Although he never cam­paigned a ’69 Dodge Charger Day­tona, in 1970, Petty won eight races in a Ply­mouth Su­per­bird, which can be seen in the Richard Petty Museum. That car re­mains one of the most pop­u­lar race cars Petty ever drove.

Sul­li­van’s Van­ish­ing Point Race Cars-built Dodge con­tin­ues in that theme be­yond the “43” that adorns the side. The Hemi-based power plant and bad boy out­law im­age still re­ver­ber­ates as seen by the rise of NHRA Pro Mod, ADRL and PDRA.

Sul­li­van isn’t just run­ning on old coat­tails. He made the jump from a suc­cess­ful Top Drag­ster ca­reer into Pro Mod, card­ing a best of 4.02 at 186.56 with an M&M

Turbo 400 in the eighth mile. De­spite run­ning a lim­ited sched­ule in the NMCA se­ries, Sul­li­van fin­ished in the Top 15 and re­ceived post-sea­son recog­ni­tion. Plans for 2017 are to run the en­tire NMCA and ADRL cir­cuits.

The lin­eages of Petty’s ’Cuda and Sul­li­van’s Day­tona pro­vide a clear pic­ture be­tween mostly stock A/Fac­tory Ex­per­i­men­tal cars and today’s Pro Mod­i­fied. That makes dig­gin’ up bones even more plea­sur­able.

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