The year was 1973. There was no question the '60s were over. The Nixon administration was reeling beneath the growing Watergate debacle, OPEC's oil embargo resulted in the gas crunch that put the final nail in the coffin of the American supercar, and a variety of strikes and boycotts led to overall monetary instability. For car enthusiasts, the highlight of the year was the release of American Graffiti and its reflections on a simpler time. If you were racing a Chrysler in Pro Stock in 1973, it was indeed a time to be somewhat melancholy, though Dandy Dick Landy would win the AHRA Pro Stock World Championship.
During 1970 and 1971, Dodge and Plymouth ruled the Pro Stock roost in NHRA, thanks to Hemi motivation and a handful of talented drivers and engine builders. However, under pressure from the other manufacturers and drivers, the largest sanctioning body in the sport began a steady string of rule adjustments that slowly demoralized the Chrysler troops. The rule adjustments added weight onto the cubic-inch-per-pound formulas then being used to try and equalize the superior (read Mopar) and inferior (read most everybody else) vehicles. Every time the Chrysler guys found something to make them competitive again, the pencils came out and more weight went into the trunk. But that may be getting a bit ahead of the story.
Dick Landy was, and still remains, one of the best-known names in the sport. In a driving career that spanned almost 20 years, Dandy Dick and his trademark unlit cigar was among the elite group who spearheaded the move to develop Pro Stock in the late '60s, and also was a noted spokesman for the Dodge Division during most of his career. The Dodge Dart Sport shown here, owned and restored by a team led by Minnesota-based collector Dean Klein, was the final Pro Stock car Landy himself toured with and drove in the '70s.
State of the art for the era, this particular car was built at Dick Landy Industries for noted car owner Larry Huff, who also campaigned a Funny Car driven by Richard Tharp. It was one of four Pro Stock Darts Landy put together that year. the other two went to the late Irv Beringhaus and the team of Miller & Sons on the east coast. With lightened sheetmetal parts chemically milled (acid-dipped) by Aerochem, the company who had done the work on Landy's stuff since the infamous '65 altered wheelbase program, the body was built around a sub-structure of square tubing and chrome-moly pipe that had been put together by West Coast chassis wizard Kent Fuller. Onto this base went the latest tricks in suspension technology, Hemi engine science, and car weight distribution. Huff's car was identical to Landy's own car, which won the '73 AHRA crown.
Huff drove the car for about two years, posting wins at AHRA races in Ohio and Washington in 1974. Huff also garnered several final round showings and several low e.t. numbers using Landy power--it was good enough to take home another AHRA Pro Stock World title for Dodge in 1974. When Dick totaled Huff's car's twin in a racing accident, Larry sold the car back to him. Landy would campaign it until he debuted a new-model Dodge compact in the late '70s. When that occurred, this Dart went down the road, and Landy hung up his driving gloves and put a couple of drivers in the new car (Brad Yuill and noted Bill Jenkins pilot Ken Dondero), but finally quit for good when the powers that be again began penciling the Mopar combinations into obscurity (see sidebar).