MM: What condition was yours in when you got it?
JW: Not good, not good at all. The fenders were just hanging there, the steering wheel was loose, and the wheels were loose-it was sad. We had to go to Michigan to get them, which was the only way the factory-backed racers got theirs, and we brought it back in a driving snowstorm. It took us the better part of a month and half to get it ready to race. In April, we tested at Englishtown, and the cars wouldn't go straight, they didn't handle, and the front-end geometry was all screwed up. They were thrown together, and they were not good cars for the first three months. Once we had the frontends straightened out, they became very good cars. When I got rid of mine in 1970, those cars were going low 10s at 133 mph. Now they can run 8.80s at 150. We were limited to .590-inch cams and 10.5-inch-wide tires. Now there's no limit on cams, and you can run a 15x30-inch tire under them.
Anyway, the car held the record for a while when we had it in late-'68, but they took that away later when they decided something on the car wasn't right.
MM: Did you run any of the East Coast Super Stock circuits?
JW: Very much so. We ran from the Carolinas up into New England and went as far west as Indiana and Ohio. There were three or four different series, and you could run three events or more a week if you wanted to. If you scheduled your week right, you could run on Wednesday night, Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday. Plus, if you could move quick enough, you could also race a Sunday night. I only did that four or five times, but I did a lot of four-race weekends. It would pay $750 to $1,500 per race if you were winning. It all depended on who you ran, where you ran, and also whether you would take cash or a check. If you took a check, it paid more, but it also meant that you had to take a 1099 tax form with it. I made a lot more money with the car than I did with my day job.
In the infancy of Pro Stock, the cars were just basically revitalized Super Stockers. Prior to the tube frames, they were simply acid-dipped bodies with fiberglass front ends, lightweight glass, and no interiors. The '68 cars fit into it very easily. We used rosin for traction, and with it my 'Cuda could run with the best of them. We ran a lot of events against lesser-known Pro Stock cars-local cars-and I won a lot of those by simply taking weight out of my '68 car and using a good motor. After I beat Dave Strickler-while driving one of Jenkins' cars-in the first round of the Division 1 final at Atco [which allowed another Chrysler car to go to Dallas for a shot at the overall championship at the World Finals], I got a Pro Stock deal. So I went and ran Pro Stock in 1971 and 1972.
When match-racing, there was some stuff we could do to the car. We had stroker motors, better fuel, and better tires-there was a lot of stuff that guys did. Unless it had been agreed that no changes would be allowed, you could do what you wanted to do. The promoters and fans wanted to see a best out of three, or best out of five, and as long as it was close racing, they didn't care. In the beginning, it was usually just a pair of cars, but then it went to four or six or eight cars, and those races usually paid more. They needed to have more than two because these cars didn't always stay together, and they sometimes had backup cars waiting if one of the cars broke.