Though the A-Body Barracuda had been a consistent winner, two new-for-'70 Plymouths were instant winners in Sox & Martin's hands. The E-Body Hemi 'Cuda started winning rounds from the get-go, and reached the final round in five NHRA Pro Stock races that year, winning three of them. Add to that a win by new teammate Herb McCandless at the U.S. Nationals in an A-Body Duster, and it was a big year in NHRA for the team, capped off with a win in the season-ending World Championships. In AHRA action, the team of Sox & Martin scored wins in Super Stock Eliminator and/or GT-1 at nine of their national events.

For 1971, the team kept on winning in Pro Stock (a total of six NHRA national events that year, including their fifth Springnationals in a row), but change was in the wind. NHRA determined that anything running a Hemi was too fast, so for 1972 they were saddled with extra weight that their Blue Oval and Bow Tie competitors didn't need to carry. Result: A near-total-shutout from the winner's circle for any Mopar in Pro Stock.

Interviewed by the National Dragster in 2001, Ronnie said he was glad he raced when he did, in the era of Hemi power and four speeds. "Today's racing technology has diminished the role of the driver way too much," he said. "Back in the days of the four-speeds, the driver had a lot more to do with the outcome of the race, and I couldn't imagine anything being more fun than that."

The Team of Sox & Martin is only one such instance of the domination that Plymouth was able to garner during the early years of racing. Gentlemen like Ronnie Sox and Butch Leal may have gotten their racing starts while driving brand-X cars, but when the opportunity presented itself for them to switch to the new Hemi-powered Mopars, they jumped at the chance. Butch's car-like many-was the 1965 Plymouth. In 1967, he contracted Logghe brothers to build him a "flopper" Barracuda, and his legend as a Mopar racer was sealed. He carried the corporate Plymouth flag until 1970, when he became an independent.

Other great racers and teams for that matter were known to fly the Plymouth flag, and another great drag racing team was known as the Ramchargers. The Ramchargers were a team of Chrysler-employed day-to-day employees who spent every spare moment designing, building, and racing Plymouth-powered vehicles.

Finally, how can we talk about Plymouth Racing without including Richard Petty? He may not have gotten his start driving a Plymouth, but in 1958, he campaigned a new Plymouth convertible. When the Grand National sanctioning organization banned convertibles from racing for 1959, he simply switched to a hardtop Plymouth. He raced Plymouth vehicles until the end of the 1964 season, when Chrysler boycotted NASCAR racing because of the ban on Hemi engines.

The ban didn't chase Richard away from Plymouth, as a drag race Barracuda was built. Drag racing didn't last long for Petty, as late in the 1965 NHRA season, Chrysler lifted its boycott of NASCAR, and the Pettys were stock car racing again. In 1969, Petty was basically "forced" to leave the Plymouth camp and drive a Ford-but it wouldn't last long. For the 1970 season, the Petty team was again flying on the wing-literally-of the new Plymouth Superbird. The Pettys would continue with Plymouth for several more years, until he finally had to make the switch when Plymouth would no longer offer a vehicle style conducive to NASCAR racing.

All of the preceding examples of Plymouth's racing heritage, coupled with our "What Makes Plymouth Great" article in this issue, kind of puts into perspective the reasoning of our thoughts as to why Plymouth needs to come back. As one Plymouth slogan used to say, "The beat goes on"-let's bring it back.