The Mr. Norm Mystery: Ramblings on an MIA racecar

It was after midnight again, and I was writing. Not for a living like I should be, but entering into the ongoing discussion on the open Facebook group Match Race Madness. We were trying to figure out what had ever happened to the old Mr. Norm S/FX and ex-Color Me Gone 1965 Dodges, and what had spurred the discussion was an amalgamation of photographs contributed by several of the groups members.

Before continuing, since you are reading this digitally, you are someone who is able to use the internet. This Facebook craze, which on its surface seems a little lame (kids telling each other when they take a dump or walk the dog, right?), has become a very cool and indeed addictive recreation for a lot of people. If you are into Mopars, there are groups for Mopar cars, Mopar history, and modern Mopar products – some are open (meaning you find it and simply join) while others are closed, meaning you need to be invited by someone in the group. My wife was away in Florida for a couple of weeks, so I was up past my bedtime as several other greybeards and I tried to guess what had happened almost 50 years ago.

One photo showed two different images of the maroon sedan run by Grand-Spaulding since the beginning of the start of the ’65 season; later that year, these photos show it was radically altered with a rearranged wheelbase. Another John Lacko photo, contributed from another member, showed a sedan that had been wrecked with Mr. Norm’s name on the door, likely in late 1965 at Martin US131 in Michigan. A third photo from member Dean Miller showed a side view of another sedan, this one monikered up with the unique home-lettered title ‘Be Merciful.’ Through the paint, however, some of the telltale marks of a Mr. Norm S/FX blower car were also visible. The fourth photo showed the former Color Me Gone hardtop in Norm paint; what made this unique was that the car was pictured in Norm’s shop with the 1968 Charger funny car.

This painting shows Gary Dyer racing the Ramchargers in 1966; artist David Carl Peters entitled it ‘The Legend of Mr. Norm.”

This may not make sense to you, so let’s step back and I’ll explain why this is so interesting. All of the 1965 factory-built altered-wheelsbase cars are either found or documented destroyed – except this one. Norm had gotten the Color Me Gone (CMG) Dodge when Dick Branstner and his driver Roger Lindamood parted with Chrysler in the middle of the 1965 season; Norm had already been running the aforementioned sedan, supercharged and on nitro, until then, but the ex-CMG car soon had that combination installed in it and driver Gray Dyer was not afraid to drive it. This culminated in a historic 8.63 clocking at the legendary Lions Drag Strip in Southern California that October. People looking into this deal knew Norm had actually sold this car and then repossessed it; after that, the trail goes cold.