The Two Percent Solution: Dancing on the Edges of Engineering

Every once in a while a lost piece of history emerges from history’s dust bin. That has happened here at Mopar Max. While sorting out the collection of virtually everything drag racing accumulated by the late Chris Martin (former Editor at Large at our sister publication Drag Racing Online). Mopar Max contributing editor Darr Hawthorne found a batch of proof sheets and negatives of a Mopar factory test session with, among others, Al Eckstrand testing a brand new factory altered-wheelbase Dodge at the iconic SoCal Lions Dragway.

The images were part of Martin family patriarch Bob Martin’s photo archives. The senior Martin was a world-class photographer of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s for the Los Angeles Times and Mirror newspapers, shooting everyone from crime bosses, Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstein to the LA sports teams. He also did some freelance drag racing photography. In early 1964 he took a gig to shoot some PR photos of new racecars trailered out from Detroit to the Lions dragstrip for Chrysler. After nearly 50 years in storage, we are proud to present these never before seen photos of Chrysler and Super Stock history. - Editor

These newly unearthed photos document one of the first efforts by Chrysler engineers of true factory works NHRA S/S cars. Because the frame was moved forward about two percent, radically changing the weight balance of the cars, they were called “the 2% cars”. 

It looks like there were only four Mopars testing that day: Al Eckstrand (two cars), Bill Golden, and Roger Lindamood driving the Ramchargers car.

This session took place early in 1964, probably in a test made prior to the AHRA Winternationals in Arizona and the “Big Go West” at the NHRA Winternationals held at Pomona, California.

Detroit lawyer “Lawman” Al Eckstrand drove the Hemi-powered Plymouth sedan, painted in refrigerator white with dealer plates. Eckstrand was one of the “chosen”. He was a lead Chrysler Super Stock shoe after he won two NHRA National Championships in the extremely competitive Super Stock Automatic Class, the Indy U.S. Nationals in 1960 and 1962. He also was runner-up for "Mr. Stock Eliminator" honors at the '63 Nationals. Eckstrand drove a factory-backed Ramchargers Dodge to the Stock Eliminator title at the ’63 NHRA Winternationals, the first time in NHRA history that an automatic transmission car won the "Mr. Stock Eliminator" trophy.

That winter day in ’64 at Lions Drag Strip, there were other Mopar-backed cars in the background of some of the photos:  Bill “Maverick” Golden’s 1963 S/S Automatic wedge; one of the “Ramchargers” candy striped cars entering the staging lanes; and Eckstrand’s lettered ’64 Wedge “Lawman”. It looks like most of the cars were towed from Detroit on open Dragmaster-built trailers supplied by Chrysler, towed with Dodge pick-ups.