1970 Dodge Challenger
Competition # 31/377 Funny Car

The summer of 1969 saw the debut of the new, forthcoming, 1970 Dodge Challenger.    Though not yet available to the general public until the fall, the new Challenger made its rounds on the show circuit and in magazines.  Not unlike any other new car.  But before the new Dodge Challenger was found on dealership parking lots, magically, one showed up at the dragstrip in late 1969. Wearing 7 Candy Red stripes and a very familiar name down the sides.   After a two-year absence in the Funny Car class, the RAMCHARGERS were back with the newest of all Funny Cars. 

As ground-breaking as the 1960’s were, the 1970’s could only be described as Wild!  Drag Racing was now one of the most popular sports in America.  And the cars were getting incredibly fast.  The new Funny Cars were now basically Top Fuel Dragsters with a fiberglass body attached at the rear.  And the RAMCHARGERS, of course, were in the center of it all.  The boys were serious too.  Developing new Cylinder Head designs, featuring 2 spark plugs per cylinder, new larger Superchargers and all the Nitro your burning eyes could handle.   After parking the Dragster at the end of the 1969 season, the team's driver, “The Israeli Rocket”, Leroy Goldstein would be taking on the driving duties in the new flopper.  It wouldn’t take long for Goldstein to adjust (having never driven a Funny Car before) and continue establishing his name as one of the elite drivers in Drag Racing.  Later in life, after his retirement, Goldstein would commonly say that this car was his favorite car he ever raced. 

This Challenger Funny Car would become the very first bodied car to break the Six Second Barrier, on June 30th, 1970, with a blistering 6.95 at 209.7 mph, at New York National Speedway.  During the span of it's tenure with the RAMCHARGERS, this car would wear many small cosmetic versions.  Particularly the front nose of the car.   Sometimes it was just a plain silver flat face over the grill area.  Others, that area was white with the Dodge Challenger logos painted on.  There was a version of the grill in plain white with the RAMCHAGERS logo across it.  And then also the more common 1970 and 1971 Grill/Headlights painted on, to more resemble a regular car.  The competition number changed a couple times as well, going from 31 to 377.   But one thing was constant... Leroy Goldstien could drive that car!!   On any track, on any Sunday, the RAMCHARGERS Challenger Funny Car was the car to beat.  And just as back in the 1960’s, always a fan-favorite.   

With success, comes a price.  To say the times with the Challenger Funny were always smooth, would be an outright lie.   There were a few less than desirable instances in its 2-year run with the team.  Including the rearend breaking away from the chassis in Texas.  And the entire car burning to the ground in July of 1970, to name just a couple.  But the team bounced back, as always, with necessary repairs, engines, bodies, chassis, etc.   

Another crash in Martin, Michigan, in 1971 would all but end the car for the RAMCHARGERS.  US 131 Dragway was typically a good track for the team.  But on that day, another one of those unfortunate instances would come.  Midway down the track, everything went bad.  Goldstein did what he could to save it.   But things happen fast in a Nitro Powered Funny Car.  Within a couple short seconds, the car was scattered about the track.  The body had taken flight and blew apart, crashing on its roof near the fence.  The nose (bumper area) of the car had been blasted off and landed in the Grandstands.   Quickly a couple fans hurried to claim the coolest of all racing souvenirs.  After a heated discussion and almost a fist-fight, the Challenger’s nose ended up in the back of a Pickup truck, headed to its new home in a residential garage in Indiana.  It remains there, 5 decades later, as a piece of “Wall Art”, and now a family heirloom.  That remaining piece was brought out into the sunlight for the first time in over 50 years, when it was displayed at the 65th Anniversary RAMCHARGERS Reunion, in 2023. 

After that crash, the Challenger was repaired again, but its days were numbered.   At the end of the '71 season, it would be sold off in favor of a new Dodge Demon Funny Car.   This would also mark the exit from the RAMCHARGERS for Leroy Goldstein, as he moved on to other teams and eventual retirement.   

The Challenger Funny Car would end up finding its new home in the hands of Drag Racing legend Arnie Beswick.  Arnie, having spent his entire career driving Pontiacs, finally realized that if ya want to win, you’re going To need a Mopar!  ...Or so he thought.  Apparently the Mopar Gods were none too pleased with the former RAMACHARGERS race car being driven by a lifelong Pontiac Guy.   Especially one who was such a fierce rival in the previous decade.   Early in the 1972 season, after only a few passes in the car, Beswick had an issue with the windshield being completely fogged up from hot exhaust fumes, cold air temperatures, and a high level of humidity.   When the car came down off of a wheelie, Arnie was as good as blind.  With absolute zero vision, Beswick did his best to blindly point the Dodge in the correct direction.   But fate would see it differently.  What Arnie assumed was straight down the track, was actually not even close.  The Supercharged Hemi powered the Challenger down the track, right toward the wall.    The former RAMCHARGERS World Record Holder crashed hard, and rolled to its ultimate demise.  Beswick would fare just fine after the crash with only minor injuries.  But that unfortunate moment would be the last of his in a Mopar bodied race car, driving Fords and Pontiacs thereafter. 

The body was obliterated to a pile of scrap fiberglass.  The chassis was bent and broken beyond repair and found its way to the scrap pile as well.   The fate of the engine remains unknown.  And the only remnant of this car, is that front nose souvenir from US131 Dragway.



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