In 1970, a NASCAR guy named Harry Hyde wanted to know if we could build some engines for his cars, which Bobby Isaac drove. Paul Goldsmith and Ray Nichols still had their performance stuff down in Griffith, Indiana; this was before Petty Enterprises got that whole deal, so they would call Goldsmith. I'd go down there and pick up stuff like blocks and cranks and valves. Walt Aldrich and myself bought a building out in Royal Oak and started a little company called F&W Racing and built engines for Bobby Isaac and then put them on an airplane to Hyde's shop. One of them went into the Dodge Daytona that became one of the first cars to top 200 down in Talledega, and another one set some records out in Bonneville. The deal only lasted for 1970; we built engines for a year. We did two different kinds, qualifying engines and race engines. The qualifiers only had to run 200 miles; the race version had to go a whole 500.
MM: What else were you involved in before you left Chrysler?
FP: Well, I ran the only dyno testing that Chrysler had for diesels; after I left the motor room, we took the old turbine dyno shop, which was unused, and got it back into working order for the diesel program. A bunch of us went to Bosch injector school and we learned a whole bunch of stuff, but the program didn't last long. We had a 2.2 turbo diesel and a turbo Slant Six diesel, and both those performed very well. We just couldn't get any mileage out of them. I was still a supervisor and we were running whatever the dynos were capable of doing, endurance or whatever.
MM: What do you remember the most about working there?
FP: Doing the Hemi in the 1960s was the best time for me. It really gave me more opportunity than the average person. There are not a lot of people who can be involved in racing like I did and get paid for it. I was on salary, so I got to go out and race and never missed a paycheck.
MM: And racing...
FP: My biggest win was at the 1964 World Championship race at Detroit Dragway. The track owner, Gil Cohn, had this big $10,000 race that paid a dollar a foot to the Super Stock winner; it was a big deal there in Detroit. We had a '64 Plymouth that started as a Max Wedge car and we swapped a Hemi into it at midseason. It was a two-door hardtop; the factory-built Hemi cars were sedans. We had added some of the lightweight parts to it, but it was still legal, and we went to the track with a fresh engine that had never been started. I remember crawling underneath and I was still installing the converter bolts there at the race.
So we make a couple of runs and the race starts. We won $500 for our spot, and I raced and beat Fenner Tubbs to go to the final round. Now, Dyno's [Don Nicholson] Comet is there, and he is screaming, he's got me covered by 2/10; he beats Len Richter, and we're matched up for the finals, and the tree breaks. So Tiny, you know, the track's 400-pound starter, he gets out there with the flag. All that works on the tree is the two yellow staging lights and the green. He comes over and says, "You get staged, and I'm gonna yell 'one, two, three."'
We both go up, we stage, Tiny says, 'one, two, three,' and I'm gone, and Dyno just sits there. He's doesn't move. I cross the finish line, we pass fuel check, go over the scales, and we get that car loaded up. We got paid and left! There were a lot of people there that night, and we knew that Dyno had a lot of fans, but the guys in charge told them we won it fair and square.
MM: Thanks for the memories, Forrest.