Hidden away for 27 years, the Sites' kept this amazingly forgotten piece of Mopar race his
"By [now], we could read the handwriting on the wall," Dick Landy laments in September's issue of Super Stock magazine in 1970. "It evolved to the point where there was no sense even going out to race. We just couldn't even afford to pay our crews and the fuel costs to go to the races and race under those conditions. We'd just start to get dialed-in, and, six months later, they'd change the rules, put an extra half a pound per cubic inch, or what have you." The NHRA was in a state of continual shift; officials said it was to adhere to the current trends of increasing insurance rates and federal regulations on vehicle safety and emissions, which weighed heavily on the automotive industry, slowly tightening its stranglehold on the musclecar world. This paradox of showroom cars impeding upon the racing world would cause some of the biggest players in professional auto racing to search for new, feasible alternatives.
Landy added in a candid interview with Mopar Muscle, "We kept racing, and, finally, they created Pro Stock, which was a class where all these type of cars that we had been match racing could all get together and race. So, we actually fought and lobbied to get them to create this class; they finally agreed." Racing under the newly formed Pro Stock bracket, Landy and his driving force including his brother, Mike, and team member, Bob Lambeck, piloting different makes of vehicles: a '70 Dart, two '70 Challengers, and a '70 SS/E Hemi-powered Charger, all of which were increasingly modified within the boundaries established by the ever-changing NHRA rulebook. Landy brandished one Challenger that was a C/MP competitor and another that was for AHRA Formula 1, sporting a single carburetor 426. Landy's forces were divvied up between match racing, Pro Stock, and Modified Eliminator in the '70 season, making his fleet of Dodges a force to be reckoned with.
It wasn't until this year's Chrysler's at Carlisle show that everyone was able to cast the
Landy admits that "factory pressure was one thing," when it came to deciding upon the '70 Dodge Charger as the platform for his intermediate-size Super Stock entry. Landy had used second-generation Chargers before (1968 and 1969) with considerable success. The large coupes were incrementally heftier than its Coronet brethren and considerably bulkier than the competing Chevelles, 4-4-2s, GTOs, Fairlanes, and Comets. Landy's Northridge, California, team (DLI, Dick Landy Industries) were savvy to this and made amends by slightly tweaking their Chargers within the grey boundaries between the class regulations. The new-for-'70 bumper joined the hood and fenders in the acid tank, which stripped off unnecessary poundage. The decade-old trick of racers helped to shave off excessive weight from the already bulky Charger. Within the rules of the Super Stock class, suspension needed to remain all but untouched.
Maintaining the factory configuration, the engineers at DLI fabricated an extra leaf for each spring, making the Super Stock leaves count in at six and seven rather than five and six. In addition, angled shackles moved the springs inboard an additional inch. Along with the inner lip of the rear wheelwells folded in, these tweaks allowed for a wider slick to be tucked up into the factory well, since mini-tubbing was not allowed. No subframe connectors, driveshaft loops, or rollcages were allowed as they would offer additional structural stability to the unitbody design. Ordering this particular Charger with the venerable 426 elephant provided the factory-installed torque boxes, giving the big B-Body some rigidity it desperately needed. Landy did opt for the sizeable bus battery mounted in the trunk for better weight distribution, taking from the front and moving it over the rear wheels. Landy would coat the Charger in his company's signature colors and bolt on a set of polished 15-inch Cragars making the setup all but complete.
Not much has changed since 1970. Showing the staying power of high-performance manufacture
Landy says, "We ran that class and were whipping everybody, the Chevrolets and the Fords. Pretty soon [the NHRA] was letting small-blocks race big-blocks. you know, 500 and 426ci motors racing little small-block 327 Chevrolets and small-block Fords. But they had to handicap us to make it seem fair, so they kept handicapping the big-block cars continually. Literally, it almost put us out of racing at that time." To compensate for the heavy-handed handicapping system, the crew at DLI would invent one of the most important innovations to the elephant motor since cross-bolted main caps. Landy says, "We had been doing a lot work with the manifolds, the camshafts, and the headers. It appeared that to make a little change, and see an increase of 5 or 6 hp wasn't possible. We had to start playing with the cylinder heads a little bit. We had never ported and polished them, hogged them out, or done any flow work to them in the past because it wasn't legal in the handicap classes. But in Pro Stock, it was legal, and we redesigned our existing aluminum heads."
Landy's engineering team drew up a better exhaust port design along with improved headers. But what was most impressive was the advent of the dual-spark-plugs-per-cylinder cylinder head. He relates, "I picked the thing up back in Dodge engineering, something we saw and heard talked about, and it looked like it might work. So I went back home, and we sawed a bunch of cylinder heads up, and after about a month of work, we came up with a feasible way to do it economically." Landy shook the racing world when he pulled up for the first of the season. It's unknown whether this Charger officially brandished the 16-plug 426 as the engine was pulled and swapped for a 440 back in the late '70s. But other performance upgrades made by Dick Landy and his racing team include the installation of a B&M 5,000 rpm-stall torque converter, a reverse manual valvebody, line-lock, a DLI "cool can," steep 5.33 gears mounted to a spool, and dual electric fuel pumps, one dedicated to each carburetor.
Somehow, this B-Body survived the violence of constant quarter-mile runs without the assis
Landy's '70 Charger would only race for less than seven months, finishing up the season with an all-time best of 11.29 at 124 mph-a national record for 1970. The manufacturer's statement of origin lists Landy as collecting the Charger on March 16, 1970. He didn't have it long though, as it was October 30 that same year that Sam Pannuty from Pat's Auto Sales acquired it.
It was a short time later, (March 5, 1972) that Edward Thomas would offer Sam his '69 Barracuda in trade for the retired Landy Charger. A pink slip, a set of keys, and some cash landed Ed the Hemi B-Body, and the once named "Slow Eddie" wasted little time in putting the Charger back on the track. The week of April 16, 1972, Ed would enter the Charger at Delmar, Delaware's, Super Stock Eliminator race at US 13 Dragway and win the event with an 11.55 pass. Ed would continue to compete locally with the Charger, pulling in wins in several brackets, making the moniker "Slow Eddie" nearly obsolete.
It took us a while to make sense of what we were looking at here. What you're seeing is a
The equation becomes more convoluted with the Charger's automatic shifter on the column, a
Since Landy raced in SS/EA, and Ed distinctly remembers the Charger using a B&M-built auto
Tire rot is inevitable when a car has been sitting for that long. Tire fitment was an issu
The hand-stenciled Dodge signature for Dandy's Dodges is slowly fading into oblivion. Only
Tire rot is inevitable when a car has been sitting for that long. Tire fitment was an issu
The Charger would consistently produce mid-11 times without fail, giving new-found credibility to the Hemi-powered B-Body. Ed's only alteration to the Dick Landy car was taking red paint and blocking out the famous racer's name on the doors (though keeping the DLI decals on the fenders). These cars were easily exchanged, sold, and junked during those years because of their overabundance and over consumption of an ever-decreasing commodity: gasoline.
A hair above 27 miles showing on the odometer is pretty impressive. But the skeptic in us
Ed sold the Charger to a gentleman by the name of Willie Turner in 1974. He would keep the car until 1979 when health issues would ground any further race participation. During the five years Willie owned the Charger, a few alterations were made. Wanting to participate in dual classes, a factory clutch pedal assembly would be installed under the dash, while the linkage to the column-mounted automatic shifter would be disconnected and mated to an aftermarket Hurst Dual-Gate shifter. It is presumed that the Charger would bounce between SS/E and SS/EA brackets, swapping the automatic with a manual transmission regularly.
Willie sold the Charger to a young Ron Sites in early 1979. Ron had an interest in racing and had spent some of his hard-earned money for a complete Hemi that was machined and ready for assembly, but was never bolted together. Ron planned to build it for some aggressive street and regular drag racing action, and while looking for an ideal platform to do so, Ron discovered the Charger sitting in a parking lot of an apartment. Ron made several attempts to purchase the car, not fully understanding the impact of what a Dick Landy-built Hemi car was at the time. A deal was agreed upon and the Charger was taken home. he intended remove the replacement 440 (Willie proclaimed that the wedge was far less bothersome than the unusual 426 and kept the elephant for himself), and restore the B-Body to its stock appearance.
Missing the original Hemi raced by Dick Landy, Sam Punnuty, and finally Eddie Thomas, the
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your perspective, a series of events would interfere with his plans. Ron and his wife Rose had recently started their own business, an endeavor that would eat up most of their time. Years later during a move, the Charger's bumper and hood would be damaged during a towing accident. The thin skin of the Charger exaggerated the injury, making the crunch look far worse than it truly was. Soon children came, and the family's needs took precedence over restoring an aging musclecar. The Charger continued to sit idle for 27 years, collecting dust, and taking up space in their side garage. It wasn't until May of this year when Ron posted a couple pictures of the forgotten DLI Charger on dodgecharger.com that word got out about the "lost Landy Charger." The discussion board was afire with people downloading Ron's images, making comments, posting ancient articles about the '70 B-Body, and ecstatic to see the car. Ron unwittingly deployed one of the biggest bombs to the Mopar enthusiast hobby via an online chat forum.
Here you can see one of the results of drastic weight reductions rendered by aggressive ac
It was decided that Ron needed to take the Charger to the '06 Chryslers at Carlisle show to see if he could get Dick Landy to authenticate the car personally. Ron had called Landy twice, wanting to pump the aging Mopar guru for information to confirm that his car was a true "Dandy Dodge." At first, Dick first argued that he never raced a '70 Charger, but with some pictures and photocopied magazine articles, his memory was quickly jostled. Dick admitted that "he had so many cars in those days that it was hard to keep count." Dick met with Ron and Rose at the Chryslers at Carlisle show and gave the Charger the "once over." Slowly, he grazed his hands over nearly every inch of the B-Body, observing the alterations made to the rear suspension, the interior, the painted-over markings, the wounded front clip, and came up with the assessment that "it looked like one of his cars," and finally gave Ron the affirmation that, yes, it was indeed his long-lost '70 Charger.
Since that time, Ron has had several offers from people wanting to get their hands on the legendary Landy machine. Ron and Rose demanded that whoever purchased the Landy Charger needed to properly restore the car back to the way it was when Dick owned it, and Bob Lambeck drove it in the '70 Pro Stock season. And trust us, Mopar Muscle will be there to cover it as it happens.
These were the Goodyear slicks that came with the car when it was purchased from Willie Tu
The Super Stock B-Body was gently rolled out onto the showgrounds for only a short time be
It's hard to believe that a race car would still have a backseat in it, but sure enough, h
The Charger's long lines looked fast and seductive, but were anything but at the race trac
The interior is all but perfect, with the high-back '70 buckets, black carpet, and headlin
For nearly three decades, this is how the Landy Charger looked, nestled away in the Sites'
1970 Dodge Charger R/T Dandy Dick Landy Super Stock car.