Drag Racing Other
Cougar bodies enjoyed great popularity in the late 60s with the likes of "Dyno Don" Nicholson,"Fast Eddie" Schartman, Kenz & Leslie and Pete Gates running the shell on their F/Cs... but not too many transitioned into the 70s. One exception was the Nick Varough owned "Nasty Nick" Ramchargers powered Cougar from the early 70s. Paul Aray did stint in car in early 72 while awaiting new Maverick to be finished, before Paul Smith took over the ride full time in Feb. Ohio based car was campaigned extensively in southeast match race competition... in the mid-70s Varough debuted a Satellite bodied flopper driven by Chuck Finders that took the team to it's first NHRA event win at the 76 Division 1 WCS show at Maryland International Raceway.
Wayne Gapp - Atco - 1968: Ultrastock Gas F/C (the same Wayne Gapp who teamed with Jack Roush running Ford Pro Stockers in the 70's).
Here's a shot of the ex-Wayne Gapp Super Cat Cougar at R-Town, NJ, sometime around '69-'70. This car, originally built by Wayne Gapp to run the NASCAR Grand Stock Ultra Stock circuit, was owned by John Skitsmas at this time. I believe this was a gasser circuit meet. The car still ran pretty good, too. Gapp ran it with great success on the NASCAR circuit. Not sure if Jack Roush was involved. Skitsmas had a speed shop and at least one other ex-Ford SOHC car, one of the Mustangs that I always thought was one of the HM built (maybe kit) cars. It was blue, called the Jersey Rattler. Wonder if they still exist.
Art Ward and Jerry Bradley formed the “Henchman” funny car team and raced this 1968 Cougar in 1970. The car was the former Kenz & Leslie “777/High Country Cougar II.” Ward had previously driven the “Assassination” AA/MSP Corvette and MG, and the original “Assassination” Corvair AA/FC of Roger Guzman in the late ‘60s. Jerry Bradley had raced the “Henchman” Camaro funny car as an AA/Altered. Both men were successful in Colorado drag racing events in the late ‘60s. The team had an average year with the Cougar. In 1971, Art Ward built the first “Avenger” AA/FC.
Kenny Bernstein’s first funny car ride was not a world-beater. It was not a lack of money or experience, but the Ray Alley owned "Engine Masters" Cougar was too outdated when it debuted in 1969. Gilmore built the chassis, but he thought the chassis just held up the wheels. The car’s space frame and extensive aluminum work made the car too heavy to compete with Snow, Goldstein, and other racers running in the six-second range. The car was good for mid-sevens on an average day with a known best of 7.54 at La Place, Louisiana. The "Engine Masters" Cougar was parked by the end of the 1970 season. Bernstein took over the team’s Charger in 1971.
Kenny Bernstein driving Ray Alley's Engine Masters Cougar, circa 1970. Car is currently being restored in CA. Note the chassis technology. According to Ray Alley (as quoted in Popular Hot Rodding in the early 70s) "All the tubes do is hold the wheels up. The engine department plus tires and new fuels is where it's at."
Here is Bob Couch's current Street E.T. Series drag car, a '68 Cougar. This is another one of Bob's total ground up restoration projects. The Cougar is a beautiful car, and fast too! This is the car that Bob won his N.H.R.A. "Wally" with. It kind of reminds ya of Don Nicholson's ELIMINATOR Funny Car of the 1960's, doesn't it? Looks GREAT! "