It’s tough to beat the enjoyment we get when someone sends in pictures of their rare find, but if that find is a vintage race car, it does add just a little more mystique.
This month, we get our submission from a gentleman named Larry Ferrel. It seems that Larry and a gentleman named Freeman Lee Crowder III have a very interesting project. It seems that Freeman’s Granddad used to race Pro Stock cars in the early ’70s, after he got out of racing his ’68 Hemi ’Cuda called Big Orange in Super Stock. While he was testing a new engine in the ’Cuda, he was having a hard time getting it to perform as he well as it should, so he enlisted the aid of John and Gerald Livingston. The group worked on the car, and ended up staying together as a team, and things were going well. Finally, Freeman the first got the bug to go Pro Stock racing. This is when he contacted the Sox & Martin team, and had them build a ’71Demon.
With the Demon completed, the Crowder patriarch enlisted John Livingston to drive the car. They called it Tennessee Thunder, and campaigned it through the 1971 season. For the 1972 season, another car was purchased, but the team split ways in August of that year, and neither car was raced very much. The cars were stored in different warehouses in Livingston, Tennessee, until 1985. That’s when the elder Crowder sold them.
In 2011, Freeman III concocted a plan with friend Larry Ferrell, to see if they could locate the Demon. During the search, Larry contacted Ted Stephens of Stephens’ Performance, when he was told that Ted thought the car might be in Starke, Florida. Larry proceeded to contact Jerry Dempsey of J&J Parts (the guy in Starke), to see if he really did own the car. Jerry did confirm that he indeed owned the car, and after a lengthy discussion, the guys made arrangements to go make sure it was the car they were looking for.
Although the paint scheme had been changed sometime after Freeman’s Granddad sold the car;
Once the team of Larry and Freeman III arrived at Jerry’s place and first laid eyes on the car, Freeman III knew immediately that they had found his Granddad’s Pro Stock Demon. The trio had a lengthy discussion about what it would take to buy the car, but they were unable to come to an agreement. Unfortunately, Freeman III and Larry headed back to Tennessee without the car.
About 18 months later, Larry placed another call to Jerry to see if the car was still available. Sure enough, it was, was once again, talks led to no sale. After a few more months of phone calls, the guys were able to strike a deal that involved trading some parts and cash for the car. Finally, the third in a line of Freeman’s was able to return the Tennessee Thunder back to Tennessee.
The plans call for a complete restoration of the car back to its 1971 “as-raced” condition, which shouldn’t be too hard, because as Larry told us, “the car is in amazing, unmolested condition. There have been a few extra bars added to the roll bar, but none of the original Sox & Martin bars have been removed, and most of the parts are correct.”
When Freeman’s Granddad raced the car in 1971, it was able to fit in both Super Stock and
When racing was done for the love of it. No big sponsors, no travel coaches and 20-man tea
By the time you read this, the car will probably be restored—or least almost finished. It
A full restoration is currently underway, and this car should once again thunder to life by the time you read this.