Della Woods could be called the grand matriarch of female funny car drivers because she was the only one to drive in four decades, the sixties, the seventies, eighties, and the early nineties.Della started out in a converted Chrysler Super Stock Polara with her brother, Bernie Woods, to form the "Bernellla" racing team.A Charger funny car was built to replace their Polara in 1968.The new car became, perhaps, Della's most famous funny car.The full size Charger, dubbed "The Funny Honey," was a match racing sensation.
Della was successful at match racing throughout the early seventies, and then she retired from drag racing the first time.She married and came back to racing in 1981.Della took a couple of years to get her feet wet in the old "Fighting Irish" Trans Am, the only non-Mopar of her career, and in an '82 Charger.Della became a success on the national event level when she ran 5.80s in 1986.She suffered a serious wreck at the end of the year, however.A new car was built, and became her final AA/FC.Della Woods made infrequent appearances until the early nineties in a beautiful Dodge Daytona, running a 5.79 best.
Following in the footsteps of the famed Dodge Ramchargers group and Plymouth's Golden Commandos, along came a group of Chrysler engineers and drag enthusiasts who dubbed themselves "The Missile Group" in 1971.With Pro Stock racing just getting started, and Chrysler walking away from most major racing sponsorships, these guys banded together to form "The Missile Group" and built a total of three cars to test and experiment with theories on Pro Stock Racing – thus the famed "Mopar Missile" cars were born.There were three original Missiles, the '70/'71 Challenger, a 1972' Cuda, and finally, a '72/'73 Duster.The original group consisted of Tom Coddington, Ted Spehar, Joe Pappas, Dick Oldfield, Al Adam, and Ron Killen.When Chrysler abandoned their Pro Stock efforts altogether in 1974, the group was dissolved and the Missile was sold to its famed driver, Don Carlton.
Robert Tarozzi may not be a household name among Mopar enthusiasts, but he very well should be.One of Tom Hoover's favorite engineers, it was Tarozzi who pioneered and developed the 1968 Hemi Super Stock Barracudas and Darts, even handling the driving chores for the famed orange/white test mule '68 Hemi Barracuda.He then developed and largely engineered the '69 Charger 500 NASCAR test mule.Leaving Chrysler, officially anyway, "Turk" as he was generally known, continued to work with trans am racing, working on the 1970 Chrysler Trans Am series cars; the AAR 'Cuda and the T/A Challengers, and then he achieved perhaps his largest claim-to-fame.In 1970 he contracted with Chrysler to do all their development work with Keith Black Racing Engines, and Tarozzi designed and built the immortal 426-style Hemi Keith Black Top Fuel engine as used in funny cars and Fuelers to this very day.
Richard Sias was one of the "dream team" styling engineers within Dodge's ranks during the golden era of the muscle car years.Sias began his career in design at GM, and in 1964, he was lured away by Dodge Division styling manager Charles Mitchell.Sias initially worked on the A-body platform, designing details and trim pieces for those cars, but all the while he was working on a complete car model they dubbed the "double diamond" because it was rather wasp waisted and somewhat Coke bottle shaped.Bill Brownlie, chief stylist at Dodge, reportedly didn't like the odd-shaped car, but everyone else did.So much so that when Brownlie went on a European trip in 1965, Mitchell hurriedly pushed Sias into the B-body group to see if they could get the design to work on the Coronet platform, Chrysler vice-president of design Elwood Engel fell in love with the concept, added a flip top racing-style gas cap to its design, and by the time Brownlie returned, everyone involved had fallen in love with Sias's new design, which was approved for production in the summer of 1965 as a 1968 model.That car ended up being the 1968-1970 Dodge Charger; one of the most iconic and unique designs of the entire muscle car era.
One of Chrysler's premier racing engineers, Bill worked for Chrysler Corporation for just over ten years, perhaps most importantly on their aero war NASCAR program.
Bill grew up in Virginia racing cars.He went to Vanderbilt, where he got a degree in mechanical engineering while building and driving a series of drag cars.He was recruited out of college by Chrysler, who moved him to Detroit.He soon found himself in what he called "the job of a lifetime," working in the Chrysler Race Group as a NASCAR engineer.Later, Bill also worked on the short track Kit Car programs of the early seventies.Bill was also selected to manage the vehicle testing area, where he was responsible for testing and race track development of Chrysler's racing programs.These programs ranged from desert racing trucks, NHRA & IHRA Pro Stock and Super Stock, Formula 5000, and of course NASCAR and USAC stock cars.During this time, he spent time at most of the major race tracks around the country.
In the off season, Bill was a speaker at the Chrysler Drag Racing seminar series, which took him all over the country.The race group was disbanded in 1979, and that same year, he formed Arrow Racing Engines and soon began doing engine development work for Chrysler all over again!
John Petrie is very much Canada's version of the legendary late Ronnie Sox.Beginning his racing career in 1961 with a 1959 Sport Fury which he campaigned in D/SA.In 1965, his fame up north was cemented when he was hired by the legendary Bob Herron or Argyle Dodge Performance Center to drive their famed '65 Hemi Coronet, the "Argyle Highlander" as a Top Stock and A/FX car.After a brief flirtation with Mercury, Petrie returned to Chrysler with a huge factory deal from Chrysler Canada in 1969, racing a Hemi Super Bee for Dodge and a Hemi GTX convertible for Plymouth!He also began his appearances at countless Dodge/Plymouth Super Car Clinics hosted at dealerships, coast-to-coast, which he continued to do through 1972.Petrie ended his racing career in 1972, driving both a Pro Stock Duster and 'Cuda that year.Logging perhaps more mileage than any other racer of the era, John Petrie's famous red, white, and blue cars were symbolic of Chrysler performance throughout Canada.
One of the most unlikely Dodge "hero" cars of all time, the black-and-white 1974 Dodge Monaco police car used in the original 1980 movie "The Blues Brothers" with Dan Ackroyd and the late John Belushi, has become one of the most recognized Dodges in movie history.All told, the movie used no fewer than thirteen 1974 Dodge Monacos to portray the "Bluesmobile" – all of which were reportedly legit police interceptor cars purchased used from the California Highway Patrol by the production company, with the remaining Monacos and Royal Monacos used by the "real" police in the film largely coming from Chicago and Illinois police departments.It's believed only one of the original thirteen Bluesmobile Dodge Monacos still exists, although like the General Lee Charger, it remains one of the most copied celebrity Mopars of all time.