The Sox & Martin team owned quite a few 1968-style Barracudas, not to mention the ones that Ronnie campaigned after the team disbanded in 1974. But Clark wanted what could arguably be called a real one. In doing so, he bought this car in 1999, just a few years after he had quit drag racing himself.
"This car came up for sale in Hemmings," recalls Clark. "I had bought a 1964 Dodge from Fred, so I called him to find out what he knew about it. Well, he had already bought it a couple of days earlier, knew it was legitimate, and I agreed to buy it and have him restore it for me. I wanted a Hemi race car with real history from a premier team; this was it!"
Ronnie had lost the 1968 NHRA World title; Dave Strickler and Bill Jenkins had run for the money at Tulsa that year. But this car would propel him to that crown in 1969, where a record purse was posted at the new Dallas International Motor Speedway (now defunct). Strickler and Jenkins showed up with COPO ZL1 and L72 427" Camaros, which NHRA promptly bumped from the automatic classes since those combinations had not been run previously. Strickler dropped out and Jenkins could not top Arlen Vanke's monster SS/C record set at Columbus weeks earlier. Meanwhile, Sox trounced the SS/B record with a 10.29 in qualifying, and then marched through the field like Sherman across Georgia, beating the Iron Butterfly '64 Dodge of Dick Oldfield for the crown. Sox went 10.23 to win it all, including a $5,000 Hurst bonus for having won at the 1969 U.S. Nationals months earlier.
The car is restored to look like it did that day. It was numbered 705 since Sox registered in the Travelers division, with the Hurst 'Bonus Bandit' money bag decal in the window. Again, Wheeler Machine, Jim Remlinger, and Don Dennis were involved in making the car back into its 1969 appearance, with an engine that pumped out 590 ponies on the dyno before being dropped between the fenders. In addition to the two wins at Dallas (the Springnationals and World Finals), it won Indy in '69, plus the 1968 AHRA Springnationals and the 1968 Super Stock Magazine Nationals.
Indeed, Sox had won three of the four possible NHRA Super Stock crowns, reset the record, and laid the groundwork for the upcoming Pro Stock effort. Sox & Martin sold the car in 1970 to a Delta Airlines pilot, who raced it once and decided drag racing wasn't for him. After that, the car was successfully campaigned in Pro Stock and Modified production by Sam Carroll, Melvin Yow, Bill Vila, Sonny Shipman, David Sikes, and Randy Miller before being sold to Fred Engelhart.
"I was very proud of how this car came out," says Clark. "We found the right parts to put it back together and it has a complete ownership trail and documentation. I think the neatest aspect was that NHRA invited us to bring this car to Indy as one of the Top 50 race cars during the 50th Anniversary."
"I have to say that I am very fortunate to have the relationship with Fred Engelhart and his family that I do; I could never done this without his expertise and friendship. I have continued to put my trust in him; this truck was something he completely surprised me with last July."
"We had talked to Ronnie and Buddy many times about their experiences on the road," Clark continues. "Traveling thousands of miles, even back in the good old days, was tough in those D-series trucks. Fred had a chance to find this tribute for our show display and then we scrambled to finish it for the All Hemi Reunion. Though it was road worthy, it has a top speed of just 60 miles an hour or so right now, so we decided to load it up on a flat bed for the1,800-mile trip."