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Of all the current breed of "Cacklecars" none has a more dramatic or tragic history than the 1968-1969 Beebe & Mulligan "Fighting Irish" Top Fuel dragster. Built at Woody Gilmore's Race Car Engineering in late 1968 to replace their tired 1967-68 car, it put the already popular team of Tim "Chops" Beebe and John "The Zookeeper" Mulligan on the drag racing map with their convincing win at the 1969 NHRA Winternationals.


In the 1969 Winternationals final Mulligan left on Don Prudhomme and never looked back. Formally known at "The Bridesmaid" - Beebe & Mulligan finally got the respect they deserved.




In the summer of 1969 Tim Beebe made the decision to switch from the old style 392 Chrysler hemi to the "late model" 426 version. He saw that the later engine was gaining a performance advantage in the field and felt they needed to keep pace. The fact that the Michigan based Ramchargers were willing to work with them on the change over also played into Tim's decision. The Ramchargers had been developing the 426 engine in Top Fuel since 1965 and had a handle on it by 1969.


The team toured the summer of 1969 getting the 426 dialed in for the US Nationals at Indy. During qualifying (above), John Mulligan ran the quickest time in drag racing history (6.43) to put him into the # 1 spot for race day.

Mulligan was paired with "TV Tommy" Ivo for the first round of eliminations on Monday. Mulligan was several car lengths ahead of Ivo when, at the 1000' mark, he experience a violent clutch explosion and fire that resulted in a car destroying crash. Mulligan was thrown from the car alive but was severely burned. He survived for three weeks before succumbing to his injuries.


For the complete story visit:





The recreation story begins in 1999 when recently retired Dave West, for a fun project, went searching for an old dragster to restore. When he couldn't find a suitable car (with a history), West decided to do the next best thing ... recreate his favorite car of all time, the Beebe & Mulligan "Fighting Irish" AA/FD in its 1969 Winternationals winning trim. Problem was, there was a short list of people truly qualified to do the project to its exacting expectations. Few of the original craftsmen are today active, able, or willing to fill this need. The succeeding generation, while willing and eager, have only a few of the bones as a guide, but none ever got close to riding the dinosaur.

To West's mind there was a singular exception for what he wanted done and that was Pat Foster of Foster ProFab in Wichita, Kansas. Over the last 40 years Foster had literally built everything from Gas Coupes to Land Speed Record cars with every iteration of dragster and funny car in between. Working with the likes of Woody Gilmore (where he built the original Beebe & Mulligan car), Ronnie Scrima, Frank Huszar (RCS), Jim Hume, John Buttera, Nye Frank, Tom Jobe and Mickey Thompson... Foster was involved in virtually every aspect of the Southern California cum national racing scene back when.

Beyond his craft and innovation, Foster was the test pilot de rigueur. Best remembered as a touring professional, he was generally the first one turned to for the shake down runs in a newly designed car or to sort out a the evil spirits haunting an existing ride. Neither reckless nor foolish, Foster was the ultimate behaviorist when it came to sorting out a hot rod. Today he lives and breaths due more to his technical understanding than blind luck and bravery. Although, the latter is subject to considerable debate.

Thus West commissioned Foster to recreate his dream car from the ground up. Every effort was taken to make the car identical to its 1969 predecessor. By all accounts the end product was so excellent - so remindful of the original - that it literally brought tears to many racers eyes when debuted in October of 2000 at the California Hot Rod Reunion.




It all began on Foster's "operating table" - this custom made aluminum chassis jig that takes up a large portion of his home based shop. The handles allow Pat to wheel the fixture in or out of the shop - depending on the project. Small wheels on the far end make it basically like a wheel barrow.The aluminum tube in the center emulates a front axle while the spindles locate in the up-rights which are adjustable for proper tread width.



Moving ahead, in a month Foster had the basic chassis done and a mock up engine in place. Dave West made the trip from Paso Robles, CA to Wichita to check out the progress and get fitted in the car.



To do the roll cage correctly, the person who is going to drive the car needs to be in the car for the correct measurements to be made. Here Dave gets a feel for the seat for the very first time. Foster also took measurements for the clutch and throttle pedals.



Once Foster had all the measurements the cage was bent and tacked on. At that point West got back into the car to make sure the hoop was correct before the final welds are applied.



Foster then finished the chassis and it was a "roller". Next project - the body.


"The Tinman" Tom Hanna reconstructed a perfect replica of the original body (which he built in 1968). At this point the car was done at ProFab and ready for its trip to California.



While Foster constructed the car, West was back in Paso Robles, CA gathering engine parts. Just like the old days, you still find and grab any 392 hemi you come across. Above is how the engine for the Beebe & Mulligan was found.


After months parts gathering the end result sits on a stand in the West garage waiting for its "home" to arrive. A period correct, Tim Beebe built, 392 ready for nitro.


Minus chrome and paint, the car made its trip from Kansas to California. This is what it looked like the day Dave took it out of the trailer at his home in Paso Robles. Even in this state it was breathtaking.


With the 2000 California Hot Rod Reunion rapidly approaching, the objective was to get the engine in the car and make sure everything was perfect before it was disassembled for chrome and paint.


West waffled for a time on whether or not to debut the car, unfinished, at the 2000 California Hot Rod Reunion. It was thankfully decided to do so - the main reason being that Foster's work was simply too nice not to show before being painted and chromed. Here Dave (center) poses with Tim Beebe and Chuck Ridgley who was an original crew member.

However, there was another factor that came into play with West's decision to make the 2000 event, it was a thing called "Cacklefest". West had received a call from Steve Gibbs presenting him with an invitation to this new "thing" they were going to try after the Twilight Memorial. Gibbs was trying to round up a few vintage dragsters that were capable of push starting to recreate a 60's March Meet style atmosphere for the fans. Thus West, in his Beebe & Mulligan recreation will go down in history as one of the original nine Cacklefest cars.


 Beebe & Mulliagan at CHRR 2000

 Beebe & Mulliagan at CHRR 2000

Beebe & Mulliagan at CHRR 2000

Beebe & Mulliagan at CHRR 2000

Beebe & Mulliagan at CHRR 2000

Beebe & Mulliagan at CHRR 2000

Even without its unique green stripped color scheme, the car was immediately recognizable. Drag racers old and young poured over this masterpiece the entire weekend. The complements flowed like champaign at a million dollar wedding... so did more than a few tears. Nobody with any sense of drag racing history could forget this car and its driver or their fate at the 1969 US Nationals. Dave West could not have made a greater tribute to not only the late John Mulligan but also to his partner, Tim Beebe.


As most fans know, the nose piece was not on the car that faithful day at Indy so it survived in tact. The nose of the nose survived to this day and was used to match the paint exactly.


On Saturday West removed the entire body to reveal the "naked" car - hiding nothing. The words flawless, perfect, beautiful, bitchin and just plain wow were heard in abundance. And now for you viewing pleasure, enjoy these shots of B&M undressed. Later that day the car was re-dressed and made its first Cacklefest appearance. The first of many.





After the CHRR, In November of 2000, Dave West and Tim Beebe prepare to give the car its first hardcore test ... a push start and burnout at a local airport. West not only nailed the push start but did the cars first burnout.





The car was painted by Bill Carter who did a perfect job of duplicating the scheme done by the late George Cerny Jr. After paint, the final touch was the lettering done in January of 2001 by the master, Kenny Youngblood.



Aside from its unofficial debut at the 2000 CHRR, the "race ready" Beebe & Mulligan car was unveiled to the public during the 2001 NHRA Winternationals at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum. Here Pat Foster, Bill Carter and Dave West pose in the lobby where the car was predominantly displayed.






Since its "race ready" completed appearance at the 2001 CHRR, Dave West's incredible reproduction has been one of the most sought after and popular cacklecars in the country.




West waits for the signal to do a push start.



Aside from being one of the feature stars of "Cacklefest", West has perfected an "on call" push start and burnout at several nostalgia events over the years.


2003 NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, CA








However, the car was "born" for was Cacklefest. Here is Dave West in the pre-cacklefest parade in 2004 and passing the stands after his push start (below).











Dave West

Charlie West
Chuck Ridgley
Kevin Brown
Keith Brednick
Ronnie Mankins

Dave West
173 inch Pat Foster chassis built in 1999
Reconstructed in 1999 by Dave West
392 Chrysler Hemi by Tim Beebe
Horsepower: 2500 on 85% Nitromethane


For the long version of the Beebe & Mulligan car visit:


If you plan on attending the a California Hot Rod Reunion be sure to drop by Dave West's Beebe & Mulligan pit and not only see this beauty up close and personal but pick up a T-Shirt, hat or sticker. T-shirt or hat.



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