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"Found! Wagons of Steel's first race car!" When a friend of mine first uttered those words I wanted to strangle him. I was shocked to realize that the Mighty Josephine had come to this sorry state, pillaged and pushed behind the shop to collect moss and spare parts. I'd seen scenes like this so many times in magazines and real life over the years and thought to myself "who would let a race car come to this?" Well now I know. It just happens. Didn't the Petty family push last year's Superbird program into a gorge behind their shop in '71?
I wasn't hustling to get next year's Chrysler station wagon ready for another season but I wanted to race a platform that was a little more "off-the-shelf" and switched my efforts to a '66 Plymouth Belvedere--a "B" body. Looking at the carcass of the once "Mighty Josephine" brought back many memories. We ran this very unique car a lot so it remains kind of legendary to North West grass roots drag racing fans. Sometimes it literally pains me when people ask me about her...
Our first hit on the quarter mile was a 16.25 at 84 mph. Over the next five years or so we whittled it down to a best time of 11.70 at 112 mph right before we mothballed her. This big wagon ran at least five different motors that I can think of. A couple of them even survived to live in other cars. Josephine chewed through a few engines and transmissions, for sure, but she really loved tearing apart 8 3/4" rear ends and leaf springs. At times it was quite an adventure to get down the track and it was always a chore to slow it down with manual drums. Filling in the grill area with Plexiglas was worth over a tenth and almost five miles per hour! I wish we could do that on our Stock Eliminator cars. We learned so much about the scientific method of developing a drag car in those years. That's the original lightened hood leaning against the car. The Super Six Pack hood scoop is long gone. Believe it or not there is still stuff worth salvaging on this old beast. Don't worry, I won't scrap it outright no matter how much the price of steel rises.
Speaking of that '66 Belvedere that led to the Mighty Josephine's demise, "The Helvedere" isn't really looking that great these days either. This wagon rocked, winning many rounds and a few dollars in Pro and Super Street classes. I once went 10.58 at 124 mph with a single quad Max Wedge in this sled. We had to park it to get serious with our '64 Savoy stock eliminator program. We ended up pirating a few parts; we had to because by the time we built this wagon we'd figured out how to spend stupid quantities of money on worthless old wagons. Leaving that kind of money rusting in a field is just stupidity. So we destroyed it properly with our two-ton stocker. The Savoy ate the complete rear end assembly, the transmission and the converter program like brush through a shredder. Still, this racer could be brought back relatively easily. Maybe I'll start by washing it.