MM: What were some of the tricks the racers did? Did you create some of these changes yourself or did the factory racers help the others with tips, so to speak?
JW: Both. Actually, we all had things we would do, but the factory would tell us if they found something that made a real difference. The Ramchargers and the Golden Commandos would run this technology in testing and, if something worked, we would know about it before anybody else. In that regard, it seemed like our cars were on the cutting edge. In terms of tricks, everybody had some. One trick was to stagger the front wheels, which was very easy to do with Chrysler's torsion-bar front suspensions. It gave the driver a little more rollout, which resulted in being able to cut a better light.
MM: You made news when you spun your car out at the Nationals one year. Why did that happen?
JW: At Indy in 1968, when it came down to Gary Ostrich and myself for the SS/BA title, [the company made us] flip a coin to see who would work towards the title at Indy. The factory wanted to get as many cars into the final field as they could. Well, Gary, who was a factory-backed guy from Iowa, won the flip, so I had to [lose] during the class runoffs. I was supposed to red light. Instead, I cut the best green light I ever had, and I spun it out in the grass by the old tower. If I didn't lose, my deal with Chrysler could have ended right there.
MM: Were you part of the Mopar Nationals in 1969?
JW: All the factories were involved in Super Stock eliminator, and they all did something different to get ready for the Nationals. NHRA had a rule then that said you had to run against your index, which was the national record. They didn't want anybody to sandbag at Indy, so every good run down the track became the new record and subsequently became the new index. There would be no real qualifying to get a class winner. The two quickest e.t's in each class would be allowed to run on Monday with a no breakout rule in effect. [This was a] 36-car program. We had a lot of cars there, and we had to make sure we got the best cars into the final program. We also wanted to make sure that we didn't reset the indexes and hurt our own efforts.
We went out to a little racetrack called Thompson Dragway in Ohio. There were about 30 cars there from SS/B, SS/BA, SS/C, and SS/CA classes. We all ran for a few hours to see who was the best. Thirteen Chrysler cars-the fastest ones at Thompson-made the program at Indy with soft runs that didn't hurt the index, and the rest sat out the race.
Sox ended up winning that race, and because Dave Wren broke in the final, we didn't even reset the SS/B record that weekend. NHRA was pretty unhappy about that whole deal, and eventually they changed that rule. Today, it's run on a dial-in bracket.