Just the place from which...
Just the place from which to pilot a Hemi-powered B-Body for 500 miles.
Chuck picks up its history from there: "It was sold to Herschel McGriff, who raced it for a little while in Winston Cup, and then it was eventually sold to an unknown person. Then Todd ended up finding this car in Seattle, Washington. It had changed body "skins" many times. A gentleman by the name of Chuck Schaefer out of Seattle bought it, put its whole history together, then he got with Richard, Herschel and other people to document every square inch of it-that it was in fact the '71 championship car. Then he restored it to near-perfection. It's one of two known cars that had the "peace symbol" headrest as part of the rollbar. It's just a very cool car."
An interesting story about the peace sign was told to us by one of Petty's crew members, Ritchie, who's been with Richard for a long time. Apparently, when the peace sign was welded into the car, Richard's mother came into the shop and saw it. To say she wasn't happy about it was an understatement. Apparently, the guys chuckled a little bit and left it in the car.
Inside that "box" where the...
Inside that "box" where the back seat is on a street '71 Road Runner are the adjustable coilover shocks.
That job also included a thorough rebuilding of the 426 Hemi, as well as restoring the paint scheme, sponsor markings, and contingency decals to what it wore at Daytona in February 1971. When we had that car on our chassis dynamometer, we couldn't get readings on its rear-wheel horsepower and torque, as the unmuffled Hemi was generating enough vibration and sound pressure to cause parts of the ventilation system above it to start falling down! (Fortunately, they missed the car. Unfortunately, we had to end the dyno session way too soon.)
This past August, it also shook up the Woodward Dream Cruise-with Richard Petty again at the wheel, when it made some short loops of the Birmingham section of that famous Detroit-area cruise strip, near the legendary Hunter House restaurant. Todd Werner was with him in the Plymouth, while NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kurt Busch (in a New Challenger SRT8) and legendary Mopar drag racer Herb McCandless were also in the procession. As Chuck recalls, "Richard was there for two whole hours, and he signed a trillion autographs, then got a couple things to eat and we obviously talked to him at length." That was before the seven-time NASCAR champ boarded a helicopter for the short flight to that weekend's race site, Michigan International Speedway.
There's no doubt that other historic race cars are waiting to be rediscovered in barns, shops, and garages from coast-to-coast. Do you have one or know of one? "You just have to document things, and you have to know your stuff," advises Chuck. "You have to do your homework, and you have to network, but you have to be cautious." That way, you'll eventually know for certain whether or not that vintage race car you have-or know about-is the real deal.