Images of America: Southern California Funny Cars


Southern California was the birthplace of organized drag racing, with the first organized race held at the Santa Ana airport in 1949 and the subsequent founding of the National Hot Rod Association in 1950. Over the next decade and a half, the dragster became the king of the quarter mile on Southern California drag strips. In 1964, veteran dragster owner/driver Jack Chrisman had an idea for something different to grace Southern California’s drag strips. It was not a dragster but a stock-bodied race car using nitromethane for fuel in a supercharged engine. With the help of Gene Mooneyham, Mercury’s Fran Hernandez, and sponsor Helen Sachs, Chrisman put together the world’s first nitro-burning “funny car.” It was a steel stock-bodied Mercury Cyclone with a supercharged 427 Ford engine running on pure nitromethane. Chrisman started the evolution that soon turned stock steel-bodied cars into fiberglass-bodied tube chassis funny cars. Southern California drag racers began to lead the way for racers all over the United States in the new funny car class.



Starting in 1965, photographer Steve Reyes ventured from his Northern California base to make the five-hour, one-way trip to Southern California. There at Lions, Irwindale, Orange County International Raceway, and Riverside, he photographed the action of the class known as the Southern California funny car. His images in this book help chronicle the history of Southern California’s funny car class from 1964 to 1974.

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Arcadia Publishing (June 19, 2023)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 128 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 146710972X
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1467109727
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 11.2 ounces
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.5 x 0.31 x 9.25 inches

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