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03/24/17 09:59 PM
03/28/17 05:57 PM
I haven’t talked too much about this one, as I wanted to make sure
everything came together first. But now I can proudly announce the
newest addition – Richard Petty’s 1965 Outlawed 43/Jr. Barracuda!
So here’s the background on this car - You may as well have a seat, this is going to take a few minutes.
After spanking the NASCAR world in 1964 with the 426 Hemi engine,
Chrysler was looking to do the same in ’65. NASCAR, however, was
getting an earful from Ford, who wanted to bring in a bigger, hot rod
overhead dual cam engine for their cars. Big Bill France was worried
about the engine situation getting out of control, not to mention the
costs, so he banned the Hemi, claiming there were not enough of the
engines on the street to justify them being in the race cars.
Chrysler, to say the least, was pissed. They had no intention of going
back to the smaller, underpowered engines that had been in their
Plymouths and Dodges prior to ’64, so they packed their bags, took their
teams and left NASCAR.
That left Petty Enterprises, with young
Richard Petty – who had just had his breakthrough year with nine wins
(including his first Daytona 500 victory) and his first series
championship – wondering what they were going to do. Chrysler had the
perfect idea – go drag racing!
So the Pettys built a small
bodied, light weight Plymouth Barracuda, wedged that big Hemi engine in
it and took to the drag strips. The car was painted, of course, Petty
Blue, with “43/Jr.” on the side and the word “Outlawed” on the door.
They ran in a lot of match races, but also competed in straight up NHRA
competition, scoring two wins – including one at Bristol’s famed
“Thunder Valley” in the Spring Nationals.
NASCAR-land, race attendance dropped like a rock. Nobody wanted to see
Fords beating Fords, and between the tragic loss of hero Fireball
Roberts the previous year and the “outlawing” of stars Petty, David
Pearson and Bobby Isaac, the number of people buying tickets plummeted.
France soon lifted the ban on the Hemi at tracks a mile or less in
length, and soon enough the entire ban was lifted. Petty never again
went drag racing.
On a side note, there were actually two 43/Jr.
drag cars. The first, the “Outlawed” car, was used mostly on the
exhibition racing circuit. On Feb. 28, 1965, Petty was racing against
Arnie Beswick at the Southeastern Dragway in Dallas, Georgia, when
something broke in the left front of the car, leaving Petty without
brakes or steering at 140 mph. The car veered into the fence, climbing
up an embankment and coming down in a crowd of people. A 10 year old
boy was killed.
The Outlawed car never raced again. It was
stripped of parts and buried behind the Petty compound. A second car,
the “43/Jr.”, was built, and Petty continued drag racing, seeing some
success – but his heart just wasn’t in it.
Now, for some reason,
my grandfather loved that Petty drag racing Barracuda. He would talk
about how the Pettys were the first to successfully switch from circle
track to drag racing, and he loved the idea that they painted “Outlawed”
on the side of the car to thumb their noses at NASCAR.
only diecast of that Barracuda came out – a 1/64 scale car to
commemorate the Petty’s 50 years in racing – I had to go all over hell
and half of Georgia to find one for him. He’d call me every day – “Did
you find that Outlawed Barracuda for me yet, Bo?” I don’t remember if I
finally found him one or if he ran up on one somewhere, but he finally
got it, and it was one of his favorites.
As I’ve been working on
getting some of the Petty cars in larger scale in the collection, it
always kind of stung that I felt I would not be able to park that
Outlawed Barracuda in the big display case. As I said, no other diecast
had been made. And it stung even more a few weeks later when a person I
had purchased some vintage built models from told me one he had that he
would not be parting with was a custom Petty Barracuda, made from a
So one night a couple of weeks ago, it struck me to go
looking on eBay for a built 1965 Barracuda model. Now, 1965 is
apparently not a banner year for fans of the ‘Cuda. I found no kits –
never mind one that’s already built – for the Barracuda.
early last week, I got lucky. Some of you will remember how, when you
went into a car dealership to talk about getting a new car, they would
have built models of the new year model cars for you to look at. It was
a way to see the lines of the car before going out on the lot. Now,
these models are a little tougher than your average kit car, and hold up
pretty well. Regardless, they are highly collectible and not easy to
But, as I said, I got lucky – and there was a 1965 Plymouth Barracuda dealer’s model – in blue no less!!!!
I had already found a place to get the decals for the Petty ‘Cuda, so
all I had to do was win the car. My luck held out, and last week I was
able to do that! Within minutes of winning the car, I had the decals
Everything came in on Saturday – and Sunday morning, I
was sick as a dog. So after two days of waiting, I finally said to hell
with it – and today I went to work on making my own Petty Outlawed
Now the color isn’t quite Petty Blue, but as
we’re talking about a 52 year old model with the original patina, I felt
it was close enough for country dancing. I talked to a friend who has a
history not only with Petty Enterprises but with Chrysler, and he
I made the decision to go with the “Outlawed” look simply
because that was the one Poppa always talked about. And I felt it had
more character than the second car anyway.
Now, I don’t build
models because I don’t have the skill or the patience. Same thing with
decals. So you can imagine how nervous I was working on this thing. I
took is very, very slow, being very meticulous with the decals after
cleaning the car up (it was remarkably clean for its age, so I imagine
it was a prized part of someone’s collection).
I got to a point
with the decals that I heard my late grandmother saying “Brandon, stop
being such a damned perfectionist. Do the best that you can, and enjoy
So after about an hour and a half, she was done. It’s not
perfect, as I said. It’s a street car, so it doesn’t have the mean
stance of a drag car. It doesn’t’ have the altered wheelbase of the
original car. It has a stock front end, and interior. It has stock
tires all the way around.
But to me, it’s one of the prettiest
cars on the place. I can hear Poppa saying “We got the Outlawed
Barracuda, Bo!” It’s what it stands for that’s important. And I
wouldn’t trade that for anything.
So here are some shots of the
Outlawed Barracuda, including how she looked before her transformation.
Enjoy – and thanks for letting me long winded.
04/02/17 12:47 AM
"Ph.D. in Love Bug Science"
If you build a car exactly as it was originally, it will work just fine. -- Jay Leno
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