John Craft talks Grand National Cars

We recently received some interesting information and photos that we want to share with all of you. John Craft is a name many of you may remember from the early days of the Talladega printed Registry. He now focuses on the Grand National Ford Aero cars and has some terrific information and facts he wants to share with all of us. He is no longer as active in the street versions but fondly remembers the ones in his past. He recalls driving a Talladega on the street for 16 years! I can assure you he has forgotten more details about these cars than most of us will ever learn! The following information is edited from information supplied by John. This is only the first installment of several articles we will be publishing on the info provided by John. All of the photos provided in this post were provided by John Craft.

As you know finding a Grand National (NASCAR) version of the 1968/1969 Ford race cars is extremely difficult. According to John Craft, there are only three Talladegas “restored” to Grand National trim at present. The first was built by Kim Haynes and was originally decked out as a David Pearson car. The car’s present owner, Dough Schultz, Vacaville, CA, has researched the car’s history and has determined that it was certainly a Junior Johnson ’70 Torino chassis before becoming a Jame Hylton car and finally being passed down to a back marker. Because it is at present in Talladega trim (and may have actually been a Lee Roy Talladega or Spoiler II competition car…more research needed. It now carries the Lee Roy Yarbrough colors.

 

This is what the car looked like prior to its restoration.

The second car is in the Hall of Fame Talladega Museum at the Talladega Super Speedway. It was never a Talladega and was actually not an H&M car either. The chassis started out as a Tom Pistone built 1969 Cyclone that Junie Donlavey fielded for Bill Dennis.

Elmo Langley got the job of converting that car into a replica Talladega for the museum. He used an original Banjo Matthews front clip in the process.

This is what the car originally was.

The third car belongs to Brent Hajek in OK. That car actually was an authenticated Talladega. It was first campaigned by David Pearson and was then sold to Ron Grana and was run as the #5 ARCA Talladega in 1970.

John states that the car developed a head leak (one of the reasons John states he will NEVER build another Boss 429) and the engine was out when he last saw it, but that car is the real deal.

Some of you may have seen John’s old Cyclone (also originally a Pistone chassis built for a back marker) replica “Cale” car. It is currently in California. John believes it is currently sitting in a dealership showroom someplace. I also saw this car a couple of years ago on display at the Wally Parks NHRA Museum in Pomona.

 

Filed Under: Back TrackFeaturedFord TalladegaRace Cars and Drivers

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About the Author: Some of my first and strongest memories from my childhood relate to cars. I still remember when things happened based on what car I was driving at the time. I grew up and lived in Iowa for nearly 40 years before moving to Southern California and now live in Tennessee. I was a Corvette fanatic for years but then re-discovered vintage American Muscle. My wife, Katrina, and I decided we wanted to focus on unique and rare muscle cars. After a lot of research we fell in love with the Ford Blue Oval Aero Cars. These were only built in 1969 and and aerodynamics became an important part of winning races. The only purpose of these limited production cars was to win NASCAR races using the Boss 429 and 427 power plants complimented with a special, wind cheating, aerodynamic body. The Ford Talladega and Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II are terrific and historic cars. This site is devoted to these car and their owners past and present. We provide an Online Registry for recording the long term history and ownership of every remaining Talladega, Spoiler and Spoiler II.

Comments (6)

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  1. Jon Wood says:

    Mr. Craft is very knowledgeable on these cars.I thank him for taking time to share.Jon Wood

  2. Carl Sharp says:

    Apparently, Mr. Craft does not consider an ARCA car to be restored to “Grand National Trim.” I would consider Barry Miller’s Benny Parsons car, in its current Talladega form, to be restored to Grand National Trim. It also has a great deal more history than any of the three mentioned above. It is a Holman Moody chassis, and it did race in Talladega form. It was even used to win the ARCA Championship twice for Benny Parsons – once as a 68 Torino, and once as a Talladega.

    I’m sure that Mr. Craft is extremely knowledgable, I just think that his assessment of what is restored to Grand National Trim may be a little off.

    I even saw one in the most recent issue of Muscle Car Review that was actualy one of David Pearson’s old Talladegas, and it appeared to be in “Grand National Trim” from what I could see. I suspect there are a few others out there, as well.

    By the way, I really enjoyed the article on the Last, the 1st, and the one before that – great job, guys!

    • John Craft says:

      Carl, Your opinion is, of course, your opinion. You are welcome to it. It appears to be based on semantics. It is at variance with NASCAR history. Rich Turner elected to restore his Former BP ARCA (and later NASCAR) flat nosed Torino to a configuration it never was (or would have been) in NASCAR Grand National competition (*trim*). That chassis first raced as a 1967 GN Fairlane in both NASCAR and USAC *trim*. BP received the car from Holman Moody in 1968 and raced it with 8V Tunnel Port power as a flat nosed 1968 Torino in ARCA competition (*trim*). In 1969 that chassis…still configured as a flat nosed Torino, but with an updated 1969 grille, was used as BP’s back up car. It NEVER raced as a Talladega and it NEVER raced as a 427 Tunnel Port powered long nose car(in ARCA or NASCAR *trim*). It never wore the livery it is currently dressed in in 1969 (which reflects BP’s Talladega as it appeared in the 1969 Daytona 500 in Grand National *trim*). Further, had the chassis raced in the 1969 Grand National season as a Talladega, it would, like all of the other Fomoco team cars after March, have been powered by a Boss 429 engine. Parsons made no (as in zero) Grand National starts in any car in 1968. He only made four starts in Grand National competition in 1969, Daytona (the qualifier and the 500), Michigan and College Station. He did not campaign Rich’s old chassis at any of those Grand National races in the car’s current body, engine or livery configuration. Therefore, it is NOT restored to its Grand National *trim*…since it was ever raced as it is currently configured (anywhere). Were the car mine, it would have a flat nose on it and a 1968 grille reflecting its highest lever of achievement on track. But it is not mine. Final thought, ARCA and NASCAR…by definition, had different rules for competition cars. They were not the same. You seem to suggest that they were. It follows that ARCA *trim* is not necessarily the same as Grand National *trim*. Rich’s old car is a rolling piece of history…but it is not at present correctly configured in Grand National *trim*.

      • John Craft says:

        I guess to be 100% sematically accurate…at present… Brent Hajek’s race Talladega is the *ONLY* *REAL* Talladega (NASCAR/ACRA/USAC) in existence. And, therefore, it is the ONLY race Talladega correctly configured in both livery and mechanical *trim* (that ever raced in any competition series). I doubt that the chassis (pictured above)currently dressed in LeeRoy livery was ever a Talladega (Yarbrough certainly did race the car as a 1970 H&M Torino for sure, though). Former Goodyear exec., John Slikkerveer, owns an unrestored 1968-1969 Holman Moody flat nosed Torino chassis that was sold to Goodyear for tire testing in 1969. That car *may* have raced as a Talladega. But that is not yet confirmed. It is powered by a 427 Tunnel Port engine at present. I hope John gets it restored one day. I am not aware of any other potential *real* race Talladegas in existence. I am aware of one replica Talladega chassis that is floating around somewhere unfinished. It began its *new* long nosed life at a fabulist’s shop in Gastonia, NC. It is not real, but was broadly represented as such when it came up for sale several years back. Not sure where that chassis is now. Caveat emptor. Beside my own old tribute SII (pictured above), there are no other long nosed race Mercs that have been completed (real or replica). Mike Teske is restoring another Former Junior Johnson/Lee Roy Yarbrough 1970 H&M competition Torino Cobra to 1969 SII configuration.

  3. Ralph Escobar says:

    Hi Mr. Craft. Do you still own any of Tiger Tom’s race cars? I see you have gotten your hands on 2 of them.

  4. John Craft says:

    Ralph, No I do not. The only TTP chassis I owned served as the basis for my replica/tribute SII (pictured above). That chassis was originally built at Pistone’s by former ace H&M fabricator, Bill Funderburk. When completed, the car was sold to a car owner named Campbell from Florida and never got raced much…owing to the fact that TTP was always trying to repossess it for non-payment. HA! As an aside, Bill was the man who built the jigs for all of the real H&M half chassis cars before H&M crashed and burned in 1971 (when Fomoco cut off all funding). After leaving H&M, Bill worked briefly at TTP’s shop before setting up his own chassis shop (Tar Heel Chassis). My old SII is out on the Left Coast being vintage raced these days.

    I have never owned any other car with a TTP connection. I have been lucky enough to find and buy and restore two H&M Galaxies and the Bobby Allison 1968 Holman Moody Torino that I am currently restoring, though.

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