“Snake & Mongoose” Headline 50th AnniversaryFunny Car Display at Pennzoil AutoFair
Don Prudhomme, Bruce Larson, Matt Hagan and Leah Pritchett to make special appearances April 8-9
Display showcases cars from drivers like Richard Petty, Dick Brannon, “Jungle Jim” Liberman and more
CONCORD, N.C. (March 29, 2016) – The intense rivalry that defined drag racing in the early 1970s for millions of young fans will be remembered during the 50th Anniversary of the Funny Car exhibit at the April 7-10 Pennzoil AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The intense rivalry that defined drag racing in the early 1970s for millions of young fans will be remembered during the 50th Anniversary of the Funny Car exhibit at the April 7-10 Pennzoil AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
In 1966, the National Hot Rod Assoc. created the Funny Car category as a way for its Factory Experimental (FX) cars to evolve and grow faster. In that inaugural year, a Funny Car looked like a standard production automobile, but with its front and rear wheels moved substantially forward in relation to its stretched body. This major modification to the car pushed the center of gravity closer to the rear tires in order to give them better traction for faster launches at the dragstrip. The larger engines, which eventually topped out at 500 cubic inches of displacement, were responsible for pushing quarter-mile speeds past the 250-mph mark.
Rivals Don “Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “Mongoose” McEwen did not invent the Funny Car, but they and their Plymouths did more than any other competitors to put the sport on every little kid’s radar. No one in drag racing had managed to open the checkbooks of mainstream companies on a national level until Prudhomme and McEwen convinced the Mattel toy maker to promote its Hot Wheels miniature car line through the cleverly promoted rivalry. The Hot Wheels campaign was wildly successful, for the drivers as well as the toymaker, and it ran from 1970 through the 1972 season.
As nostalgic drag racing grew in popularity, enthusiasts began restoring original Funny Cars or seeking driver blessings to build meticulously detailed replicas. The AutoFair's Nationwide Insurance Classic Car Showcase Pavilion will host an exhibit of cars from the early years of Funny Car development, representing legendary drivers such as McEwen, Prudhomme, Richard Petty, Bruce Larson, Dick Brannon, "Jungle Jim" Liberman, and Hubert Platt, to name a few.
The Pennzoil AutoFair’s Nationwide Insurance Classic Car Showcase Pavilion will host an exhibit of cars from the early years of Funny Car development, representing legendary drivers such as McEwen, Prudhomme, Richard Petty, Bruce Larson, Dick Brannon, “Jungle Jim” Liberman and Hubert Platt, to name a few.
Prudhomme and Larson will sign autographs for fans in the Nationwide Insurance Classic Car Showcase Pavilion Friday and Saturday during the Pennzoil AutoFair from 10 a.m. to noon and from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each day. Current NHRA drivers Matt Hagan and Leah Pritchett will also make appearances Saturday in the manufacturers’ midway. Hagan will sign autographs in the Pennzoil booth from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. and again from 1:30 until 2:00 p.m. Pritchett will make a special appearance in the Tommy Pike Customs booth from 11:00 a.m. to noon.
The Pennzoil AutoFair features more than 50 car club displays and more than 10,000 vendor spaces offering an array of automotive parts and memorabilia. More than 1,500 collectible vehicles of all makes and models will be available for sale in the car corral that rings the 1.5-mile superspeedway. In addition, kids can enjoy face-painting, bounce houses and other games and entertainment in the Play Zone.
Manheim Classic Car Auction: Manheim is the world's largest collector car auction premiering over 150 breathtaking classic and exotic cars from public sellers and dealers starting at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, April 9. Spectators and serious car collectors will have the opportunity to see some of the worlds most unique and stunning cars including the rare 1965 Chevrolet Corvette and 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302. There's no charge to watch the bidding as cars cross the block. Interested bidders can register here.
Stunt Dog Show: This year fans can witness a high-flying canine thrill show of aerial acrobatics and furry fun when the All-Star Stunt Dogs make their Charlotte Motor Speedway debut, wowing the young and young-at-heart. These four-legged daredevils will steal the show on Friday, April 8, with performances at 12:00, 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. and Saturday, April 9, at 10:00 a.m.,12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. just outside of the Nationwide Insurance Classic Car Showcase Pavilion.
Jalapeño Milkshake: Fans at the Pennzoil AutoFair can treat their taste buds to the Three-Alarm Cowboy Candy Milkshake while they treat their eyes to the awesome cars on display. The mouthwatering sweet and spicy cinnamon-hinted milkshake is made from real hand dipped premium vanilla bean ice cream, authentic Horchata and house candied jalapeños
HOURS: Hours for the April 7-10 Pennzoil AutoFair are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday.
TICKETS: Admission is $11 per day for adults, and children 13 and younger are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. To purchase tickets, call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267), or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.