by Jim Amos

1970 - 1972

DVD #026

This two hour and eight minute original video production takes an in-depth look at the first three years of Pro Stock drag racing. The video includes Pro/Stock racing at fourteen National events and three match races during the period 1970 through and including 1972.

The video begins with a heads-up match race between Bill Flynn and Bob Gaudreau at Connecticut Dragway. We also include an interview with Bill and we learn about the name "Yankee Peddler" he used on his cars.

1970 was the first year Pro Stock became a Professional Category within the National Hot Rod Association and we have a short clip where we talk about the cars that entered the 1970 Winternationals. We also discuss the NHRA rules package for 1970 and show some examples of the cars that were being used in the category. Buddy Martin (Sox & Martin) tells us how he and a group of racers influenced NHRA to adopt a set of rules creating a heads-up class called Pro Stock.  

The 1970 Super Stock Nationals at York US 30 gave East Coast fans a chance to see the Pro Stockers in action and we show you both the semi-final and final round of the race. We also tour the pit area and show you some of the cars in attendance.  Wally Booth won the Sunday Pro Stock race but the overall Enduro Pro Stock Eliminator was Ronnie Sox.

The next event we visit is the 1970 NHRA Summernationals at York US 30 dragway in York, Pa. One of the guys competing at the event was Randy Payne of Rome, Ga and we include an interview with him. Randy is a great story teller and he tells us a couple of good ones during the interview. Randy and Hubert Platt were the guys who conducted the Ford Racing Seminars on the East Coast. We also show you the semi-final and the final round of racing in the Pro Stock category.  Herb McCandless was the runner-up to Dick Landy at the event and we include an interview in which he discusses the race and his role at Sox and Martin racing.

We also include footage from the 1970 AHRA Summernationals at New York National Speedway Dragway. AHRA began heads-up Pro Stock style racing in 1969 but used the name Super Stock for the class. We discuss the 1970 AHRA rules package and point out some of the differences between the two sanctioning associations. On the track we show you some of the cars at the event and the eventual winner Ronnie Sox. We also include an interview with two Sox & Martin employees Dave Christie and Chick DeNinno. They explain their role with the team.

The 1970 NHRA Nationals is next and we show you some racing from Round 1 and the final between Herb McCandless and Arlen Vanke. We also include an interview announcer Keith Jackson did with Herb after the final run.

Our 1971 coverage begins with a survey of the NHRA rules package and the big changes for the new season. We then go to the 1971 Super Stock Magazine Nationals at York US 30 and do a walk around the pit area. There was a ton of great Pro Stockers on the grounds. We do an interview with Dyno Don Nicholson where he tells us about the Mr. Gasket sponsorship he added in 1971 and he provides some details about his SOHC powered Ford Maverick. Out on the track we show you time trial and qualification runs then move into Rd 1 where we have included the actual voice of Jon Lundberg who is know as the "voice of drag racing." Jon had a special way of working the crowd into a frenzy. We include a short interview with Jack Werst who is known as "Mr 5 & 50" and he tells us about his new Hemi Cuda. Then we move to Rd 2 where 14 cars were still in competition. During Rd 2 we cut to an interview with Dyno Don and he tells us why he switched from Funny Cars to Pro Stock. We also include racing from Rd 3 and the semi-final round. We close out the event with the race between Bill Jenkins and Dyno Don Nicholson.

Our next stop is the first annual NHRA Summernationals at Englishtown New Jersey. We include footage from the pit area and then out on the track for time trials and qualification runs. After qualifications concluded the race field included the top 32 qualifiers. The #1 qualifier was Don Carlton and the Motown Missile, #2 was Mike Fons in a Rod Shop Mopar, #3 Stewart McDade in the Billy the Kid Challenger, #4 Ronnie Sox in his Plymouth Cuda, Bill Jenkins was the highest qualified Chevrolet and Don Nicholson was the highest qualified Ford. Interesting to note we had a Pontiac Firebird Pro Stocker qualify for the field with Bill Eckstrum of Bristol, Ct at the wheel and a 1970 Chevy Nova with Larry Payne of Hatfield, Pa doing the driving. We show you all the action in Round #1 then we cut to the final between Dyno Don and Mike Fons. Also included in the segment are interviews with Herb McCandless and Don Nicholson.

Next up is a Pro Stock match race between Carmen Rotonda and Herb McCandless. Carmen was driving a Hemi Duster that he bought from Sox and Martin and Herb was driving a Sox and Martin Hemi Cuda. The match was held at Island Dragway in Great Meadows, NJ. You get to see a best of three match race with lots of burn outs, dry hops and exciting action on the track. We never see anything like this today but back then the drivers worked real hard to put on a great show for the fans.  

The 1971 NHRA Nationals is next and the pits were loaded with Pro Stockers. We show you around the pit area and then take in some action on the track. 32 cars qualified for the field and once again Don Carlton was on top. Jenkins was the top Chevy at #10 while Dyno Don led the Ford group at #5. There were 20 Mopar cars, 6 Chevy's, 4 Fords and 2 AMC Hornets in the field. The AMC cars were run by the husband and wife team of  H.L. and Shirley Shahan. We show extensive coverage of Rd 1, Rd 2, Rd 3, the Semi-finals and the finals. We also show you the final in the Top Fuel and Funny Car categories. Also included is an in depth interview with Bo Laws of Orlando, Fl. Bo was very successful with a Modified Chevy Corvette and then a Chevy Camaro Pro Stocker. Great guy great story. 

We return to Island Dragway for another best of three match race between Carmen Rotonda with his Hemi Duster and Bill Jenkins with his Grumpy Toy VIII Camaro. Great footage of a classic match race. Multiple burnouts, dry hops and great runs. Plus the sounds of these cars will really get you juiced up. We also include an interview with Carmen where he talks about the difference between Chrysler and GM four speed transmissions. Interesting information.

That brings us up to 1972. We begin this segment by taking a look at the rules package and the big changes that were taking place in Pro Stock. The biggest change was the allowance of small displacement engines and a liberal weight break for subcompact (Vega's, Pinto's, Gremlin's, Colts, etc.) cars. At the forefront of the changes was Bill Jenkins and his 331 C.I. small block powered Vega. The Grump opened the season at the Winternationals and he dominated the field for the win. Our first look at the Vega comes at the 1972 Gatornationals but Don Carlton took home the trophy.  

Once again we take you to York US 30 and we get to see the Grump in action at the 1972 Super Stock Magazine Nationals. We show you the semi-final round and the final between Ronnie Sox and Bill Jenkins. This time the Grump gets the win.

Our next segment takes us to the 1972 NHRA Summernationals at Englishtown, NJ. We have plenty of pit shots and runs during the qualification rounds. All of the big names were at the race and some names you might not have heard before. How about Dave Gould in a Pro Stock Duster or Rich Simone with a Maverick out of Bristol, Ct or Carmen Buono's Vega out of New Jersey. A one of a kind Pro Stocker was entered by the Judd Brothers out of Winchester, NH. Their car was a Buick powered 72 Buick Skylark. We even had a Canadian Hemi Cuda run by Alvin Gauthier of Quebec, Canada.  

Bill Jenkins sat atop the field of 32 cars and he was able to navigate through the rounds to face Dick Landy in the final. In the semi final Jenkins faced Herb McCandless and the match-up produced a giant wheelstand involving Herb's Dodge Demon. We include an interview with Herb where he tells us about this bumper dragging wheelie.  

Next up are a few runs of the Grumps Vega at the 1972 Molson Grandnationals at Sanair Dragway in Canada. You won't believe what the wild Canadian fans did at this race. Let's just say it is for adults only. Crazy stuff.

By the time we get to the 1972 NHRA Nationals at Indy the Chrysler Corporation has had it with the new weight break rules and they ask their team members to stay away from the race. In spite of the absence of the Chrysler Factory Team cars we ended up with a 32 car field at the Nationals. The field consisted of 17 General Motors cars, 9 independent Mopar cars, 3 AMC cars and 3 Fords. Dyno Don had two of the Fords as he was driving his new Ford small block powered Pinto and Ken Dondaro was in the SOHC Maverick. The final was between two Vegas and New Jersey racer Ray Allen got the win.  

The final event we cover is the 1972 AHRA/PRA race at Tulsa, Ok. Don Garlits conceived the idea to run a race on the same weekend as the NHRA Nationals at Indy and significantly increase the prize money for the three professional drag race categories.  Garlits was President of the Professional Racers Association (PRA) and he teamed up with the AHRA President Jim Tice to stage the race. Needless to say the pits were packed with race teams and just about all the big names in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock were there. The event was called the 1972 National Challenge and it did indeed challenge the NHRA. Our coverage concentrates on Pro Stock which had a 32 car field and a cash prize of $35,000

A huge field of Pro Stockers attempted to qualify for the race but only 32 made the cut. Jenkins led the way but there were plenty of tough competitors in the field. The big Chrysler teams were there and included Sox & Martin, the Motown MissileDick LandyJohn HagenHerb McCandlessButch LealMike FonsReid WhisnantDon Grotheer and Bob Lambeck among others. In addition to the Jenkins Vega we saw AHRA regulars Jim Hayter in his Vega and Gary Kimball in his Vega. We even had a Vega Wagon that was run by Norwood Palmer of Manhattan, Ks. The GM group also had an up and coming Warren Johnson running a Pro Stock Camaro. The Ford contingent included Eddie Schartman,  Ken Hedman in his" Hedman Hustler" Maverick and Texas racer Henry Storbeck in his Ford Maverick. In the end Jenkins faced McCandless in the final and the Grump got another win. His final win of 1972 came at the 1972 World Finals in Amarillo, Tx. That gave Bill Jenkins the Pro Stock World Championship for the 1972 season.

As we close out the video we give you a brief preview of some of the material that will be included in another Pro Stock video we are putting together for a late 2020 release. The new video will take a look at what was happening with Pro Stock racing from 1973 through 1982. 

As always we have taken the time to dub real car sounds on to the movie footage in order to give you the most realistic sights and sounds available of the golden era of Pro Stock drag racing. We have also included relative narration in the video so you can follow all the action that takes place. Get your copy today.

  Bee On Video where Drag Racing Memories Come To Life!

The attached YouTube video clip is a short compilation of footage from the "Pro Stock Story 1970 - 1972" video production. Keep in mind the full 2 hour and 8 minute video is fully narrated and real car sounds have been added to the video track.