Note the major differences...
Note the major differences in this '68 photo of Ronnie in the Sox & Martin Hemi Barracuda and the current SS/A Automatic and SS/A race cars. In the early days, these cars were basically stock vehicles with no interior rollcage and an up-in-the-air stance. They ran under considerably more restrictive engine rules, but still managed low 10s at 149-plus mph.
One of Ronnie's last Pro Stock...
One of Ronnie's last Pro Stock rides was this Sox & Martin Plymouth Omni. This car was built by Don Hardy Race Cars and ran a destroked 396-inch Hemi. These Omnis and Dodge Colts were unstable because of their short wheelbase and extreme front/rear weight bias. Here, he makes a run on the concrete surface of Suffolk Dragway in Virginia.
Although they were teammates...
Although they were teammates in the Chrysler Corporation's drag racing program in the '60s, Ronnie often faced Dick Landy's California-based Dodge Division cars during class run-offs and eliminations. His SS/D Plymouth Hemi 426 GTX takes on Bob Lambeck in Landy's SS/E Automatic Dodge with 440 wedge power. This was during the '68 NHRA Springnationals in Englishtown, New Jersey's Madison Township Raceway. Note the old E-Town timing tower and absence of tall sound walls in this photo.
Those Pro Stock successes were also captured with Ronnie giving his own clinic in shifting the Chrysler Red Stripe four-speed manual gearbox. Unfortunately, the '68 Barracuda he so cherished wasn't the focus of the '70 Pro Stock program. Instead, S&M began the Pro Stock wars with a brand-new, purpose-built '70 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda coupe and a Hemi Duster. This came about as a result of Chrysler understandably wanting to race what it was selling. That meant 'Cudas (Plymouth shortened the brand name to 'Cuda instead of Barracuda) and Dusters. No matter, S&M's domination of the bracket had all the brand-Xers howling for a rules' break. NHRA's solution meant added weight for any Hemi-powered Pro Stock race car. It seemed that whenever a Hemi car won in NHRA, the rules officials quickly added weight to the minimum for the Chrysler marques. Ultimately, this led to the NHRA's complex system of weight breaks for engines with different heads and bodies with different wheelbases. The 426 Hemi-powered cars were forced to give away more and more until they were finally no longer competitive running at the rules' mandates. By the mid-'70s, Chrysler had scaled back their drag racing programs to avoid the Pro Stock weight break dilemma and what all Chrysler racers and fans thought of as a vendetta against their beloved 426 Hemi engines.
Ronnie Sox and Buddy Martin eventually dissolved their long-standing partnership, but Ronnie continued to field a familiar red, white, and blue, Hemi-powered Pro Stocker. First, it was a Dodge Colt, and, later, a Plymouth Omni. He even drove Dean Thompson's Ford Mustang to an '81 IHRA Pro Stock championship with power provided by Jack Roush.
Sox and Martin briefly teamed up again in 1995, running an IHRA Ford Probe with an 815-inch, Jon Kaase-built, 429 shotgun-style Hemi engine. They planned to run IHRA's Mountain Motor Pro Stock category that year, but a nasty crash totaled the car and nearly cost Ronnie his life. After recuperating, he confined his efforts mainly to the '68 Barracuda SS/A and to driving long-time friend Bob Reed's Sox & Martin clone '68 Barracuda. Showing that he still had it, Ronnie clocked high-8-second, 152-plus-mph times with the four-speed car, thrilling crowds whenever he ran and bringing the fans and even other competitors running to the fences to watch and listen as "Sox hit the gears." It was with the manual four-speed transmission that he gained his reputation as a virtual "can't miss."
Ronnie turned out for last October's East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame weekend in Henderson, North Carolina. He reported that his treatments and battle against his cancer were going well, and he was optimistic as to the outcome. Sadly, Ronnie Sox passed from us forever on Saturday, April 22, 2006, but his legacy as a driver, racer, and likeable personality will endure forever.