(ABOVE) In 1968, Kenz & Leslie built a 1968 Cougar bodied funny car named "High Country Cougar". This car was powered by a blown Ford 427 SOHC mill. The car was (obviously) painted identically to a showroom Cougar GT-E, in red & white. Pretty car, huh? This car held the NHRA national speed record for a short time, along with the title of "The Worlds Fastest Cougar". Kenz & Leslie's "kitty kat" funny could really mile-per-hour, perhaps because they left the high altitude tune-up in the motor when they raced at sea level. Who knows? But, this car also had this pesky little habit of explodong in spectacular fires when it raced at sea level, too, photographs of which also made it into lotsa car-mag's at the time. However, Kenz & Leslie were almost unbeatable on their home-turf, even against big-name travelling pro's like the "Chi-Town Hustler" and Don "The Snake" Prudhomme, because they knew the secret to racing a mile-high up in altitude (presumably, big-squeeze pistons, tip the nitro-can way-up, and lotsa blower spin). By the way, Kenz & Leslie were Wynn's distributors in the 1960's, and Wynn's Friction Proofing was always prominently displayed on their cars. Oh, notice the photo (right) of the '68 Cougar on the trailer with their tow van (with "777" plates) parked in front of the Kenz & Leslie shop near downtown Denver. Believe it, or not, this was a classy tow rig for the day. The times have sure changed in the manner racers transport their cars to the track, haven't they? Notice the "Kenz & Leslie" lettering on the car has moved to the roof.
" (ABOVE 2 PHOTOS) These photos of the Kenz & Leslie 777 Cougar funny car were taken at Mountain Vu Dragway near Erie, CO., circa 1969. In my opinion, Kenz & Leslie have never been given the recognition that they deserve for the contributions that they made in all types of motor sports. They never ran anything other than Ford engines, except for an Offy in one of their Midgets. They were two exceptional mechanics who knew how to make any engine run hard. " ---- Pete Garramone
(ABOVE) In 1969, Kenz & Leslie rebodied their funny car with a 1969 Cougar body, this time named the "High Country Cougar II". It was dark candy apple red....beautiful car. Notice the white hood stripe, and the fake factory Cougar Eliminator hood scoop...classy. Notice the "Kenz & Leslie" lettering has moved to the bottom of the door. This car was made into an AMT model car (a collector's item today...why yes, I have one I bought when I was a kid, how'd you know that?). This photograph of the 1969 "High Country Cougar II" was taken at SoCal's Orange County International Raceway. All of the big west-coast funny car meets were held at OCIR. "Fast" Eddie Shartman also had a 1969 Cougar funny car, that was painted pearl yellow, but as I recall, Don Nicholson didn't have a 1969 Cougar funny car...he had a 1969 Cougar Super/Stocker. I wonder why Kenz & Leslie didn't go Super/Stock racing like Nicholson and Schartman. Did they have that option from Mercury? Dunno.
Kenz & Leslie are Colorado racing legends, but especially in drag racing. In the 1960s, they raced in several different classes in drag racing. The Kenz & Leslie team raced fuelers, blown sports cars, and funny cars. The cars all were Ford powered and mostly driven by Roy Leslie, Jr. In 1966, the “777” team got one of the Logghe Bros. built Comets to race due to their connections. Their success allowed them to become the premier funny car from Colorado in the late ‘60s. The “High Country Cougar III” was the third funny car the team raced. Run in 1969 and 1970, the Cougar was a seven-second car in the rare air. It was replaced a by Mercury Comet in 1971. The team retired from drag racing by the end of the year.
(ABOVE 2 PHOTOS) In 1970, Mark Strickland snapped this GREAT photograph of the 1970 Kenz & Leslie "High Country Cougar III" parked in the pits, beside their enclosed trailer, behind the wooden grandstands, at Denver International Raceway / Thunder Road dragstrip. Obviously, from the nose, this is a 1970 Cougar body. The car was painted Pearl-Pink (Salmon) and black. The blown 427 SOHC Ford mill is evident. Kool pic, Mark! Thanks for sharing it with us! I don't know if Kenz and Leslie still had Mercury (Ford) factory support for their funny car efforts in 1970. Since, for 1970, both factory Mercury drag racers Don Nicholson and Ed Schartman were given 1970 Boss 429 Cougars to race in PRO/Stock. (By the way, these were the only 2 factory Boss 429 Cougars built, at Kar Kraft along with the street Boss 429 Mustangs, which are just eensie-weensie rare cars. Talk about a valuable collectors item today, that is, if they weren't totally destroyed as race cars, which they were. I think I read recently that somebody found pieces of the Nicholson Boss-429 Cougar....and, I mean "pieces"). I'm trying to recall, I don't thing there were any other prominent Mercury funny cars racing in 1970...other than some obscure team somewhere. I wonder if Kenz and Leslie ever wish they had gotten a Boss 429 Cougar and had gone PRO/Stock racing?