In many respects, 1964 was a catalytic year for America. The Beatles heralded the advent of the British music invasion, Lyndon Johnson, who would escalate the war in Vietnam, became the nations new president, and the baby boomers were reaching adulthood. For American cars buyers, the year heralded the advent of the Pontiac GTO, the Ford Mustang, and the new 426 Chrysler Hemi.
The Hemi was the big news that year, but the final Stage III versions of the 426 Max Wedge were no slouches. During the early months of the year, the new 64 Max Wedge cars won nationally-sanctioned drag races at Daytona, Florida; Phoenix, Arizona; Pomona, Bakersfield, and Lions, California; as well as local events around the nation. That included wins for a young driver from New Jersey named Bobby Harrop.
For longtime readers of this magazine, his name will be familiar (we published an in-depth interview with Harrop back in January 1992). By 1964, he had been nicknamed Harrop the Arab by sponsor Bob Pohle, and his car was called the Flying Carpet. Pohle owned Crescent Dodge in Collinswood, New Jersey, and, more importantly, was a director for the 50 or so dealerships that were part of the Philadelphia Region Dodge Dealers. With those kind of connections, Harrop got the best stuff the factory released, as well as a paycheck for his racing efforts.
Once track-ready, the new Flying Carpet II Max Wedge was a real runner in the northeasts growing stock ranks, and Harrop continued to campaign it the rest of the year, putting a different driver in it when he received a 64 Hemi car in June. As a result of his successes with these two vehicles, he was chosen as one of the lucky dozen who got full Detroit backing and radically altered 65 A/FX model funny cars the following season; the rest is history.
At the end of 1964, the car was sold through the dealership to a group of local amateur racers and then changed hands a half dozen times before becoming part of Rick DeMarcos collection. DeMarco had his own reasons for chasing this particular Dodge 330 race car down.
When Vineland Raceway (in Vineland, New Jersey) was still open, this car was the first Super Stocker I ever saw run. Ive never forgotten that experience, so it was important to me to locate it. We traced it through several owners and I was able to bring it back here to New Jersey in 1996.
Of course, the years had taken their toll on the car, which was basically a primered body with an updated roll cage when it came home to the Garden State from a collection in Georgia. However, the super rare, super fragile aluminum 64 nose remained intact, and DeMarco began the work of bringing the machine back to life, which took the better part of a year.
Some things had changed over time and it was decided to leave them be since the car would see some track time. This included a set of wheel tubs that had been installed in the rear, a minor rear axle relocation done in keeping with then-current Super Stock practice (this was after Harrop sold the car), and certain safety upgrades. Once the sheetmetal and aluminum were straightened out, the paint and bodywork was done by Robby English at the Restoration Connection in Egg Harbor, New Jersey, while the lettering was applied by Bill Halfman. The interior was redone by Ron Murry of ABC Upholstery, who restored a front bench seat and installed a set of door panel from SMS in Oregon.
For motivation, Rick turned to none other than NHRA Stock racer Jerry Stein. Stein, also from New Jersey, has run Max Wedge cars for decades, and he put together a engine that would propel the car down into the 10 second range with ease. Behind this is a Dynamic Transmissions-built A727, a narrowed Dana 60 with a 4.56 ring, and a set of big 10.5-inch slicks.
Helping Rick finish the job was nephew John Finelli and good friend Bob Dyer, who serves as crewchief on all the cars in DeMarcos collection. While Dyer has driven the car as well when Rick isnt behind the wheel, its best-known occupant is also its original owner, Bobby Harrop. Since Harrop still lives nearby, outside of Camden, New Jersey, Rick gave him the opportunity to actually debut the car in competition after its completion in 1997.
Harrop acted as if he had never left the drag strip, recording a great 10.60 second time. Now, with nostalgia super stock racing continuing to grow, it remains quite possible that Bobby Harrop will again be in the winners circle, thanks to DeMarcos efforts.