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Those were the days!!!!!!!!!11

June 11 2004 at 11:07 AM
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Response to Here's one for our MoPar friends

Richard Petty was increasingly concerned. The Road Runner was just not getting it done the way he wanted. After the previous season, it was no wonder that he felt that way. The 1969 Road Runner was going to be exactly the same car as the 1968. He again asked for a Charger towards the end of the 1968 season. Chrysler again said "no."

The end of the '68 season saw Richard finish third in NASCAR points. David Pearson took the Championship, his second. Pearson was not in a Dodge however, having left to go drive in the winning Fords.

On November 25, 1968, Richard Petty made a fateful announcement. He was not going to be driving Plymouths in 1969. He had accepted a deal with Ford to race their Torino. Chrysler fans were despondent, but Plymouth fans were prostrate in agony on the floor! The move caused regular Ford teams to wonder if they shared much of what they learned with the Pettys, would the Petty clan add their own formula and not share it with Ford? Then would they go on to perform their winning magic? Much grumbling resulted from the Petty decision to drive in the Ford camp, from other Ford teams.

Chrysler President Lynn Townsend took the announcement in rare form by reverted back to his un-corporate self, which had earned him the nick name "flamethrower." He was spitting bolts in between sheets of hot flaming invectives. He wanted Petty back in a Chrysler product, and "by damn somebody down there in engineering and racing better goddamn see to it right now!"

1969 started out totally different at Level Cross. Many a tractor trailer truck was spotted with large Ford markings all over them heading for the Petty garage. Totally different was the way in which the race Torino was built. Holman and Moody, which in reality was a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company, shipped all the parts and body pieces necessary to make a race car.

Ordinarily, Maurice got the Plymouth cars, took them apart and put them back together the way he wanted them. Ford supplied everything including the engines through Holman and Moody. All Maurice had to do is put the bits and pieces together.

The first race of the 1969 season was the road course in Riverside California. Despite spinning out twice, Richard Petty put his Torino in the winner's circle. A howl went up in the Ford camp. Already suspicious, the other teams were certain that the Petty clan had found a way to beat them all and wasn't sharing any of the knowledge.

Things went sort of sour for Richard at the next race, which was Daytona. His engine just didn't seem to develop the power that the other teams had. He qualified in 12th spot and finished the race in 8th place. After hearing much from other individuals about political shenanigans directed towards them, Maurice followed his instincts. He "appropriated" another engine that was supposed to go to another team. Richard gained over 10 miles an hour with that engine. It took a little while, but Maurice quickly learned how to make the Ford engine run. The power problems never occurred after that. They also didn't rely on Holman & Moody for engines anymore.

Tension and excitement began building for the 1969 Daytona 500. In the first 40 mile qualifying run, the Ford products finished 1-2-3. Elation over at Ford. Grim determination over at Dodge.

The second qualifying 40 mile race saw a complete turn around with the Dodge cars finishing 1-2-3! The stage was set for one of the fiercest battles ever in stock car history. What a battle it was. It went back and forth with little or any indication that the Dodge Charger was better than the Ford Torino. Going into the 200th and final lap, Charlie Glotzbach in a Dodge was in the lead. He was being drafted by Lee Roy Yarborough in a Torino. Yarborough's crew had mounted a softer tire compound on the Ford so he was able to hold it down tighter at the bottom of the track. He managed to get by the Dodge on the back straight going into the third turn. Glotzbach was not too worried, because it set him up for the perfect "sling shot"out of the fourth turn. Slipping off the 31 degree banking, heading for the finish line, Glotzbach tried desperately to get by Yarborough. He managed to slip up to the left rear fender of the Torino. It was not enough. Ford won. Dodge lost.

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