Cupit & Cunningham AA/FD

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History

 

Glenn Cupit had been drag racin' regularly since 1957. Terry Cunningham & Glenn met while in high school in New Orleans and enlisted in the Army together in 1956. Glenn was a Chevrolet Factory Service Rep in New Orleans & Dallas and then worked for various Chevrolet dealers in New Orleans as Service Manager for 20 years. Terry was the Sales Manager. They had no sponsors, worked 40 hrs @ week, worked on the car at nights, raced on Sunday.

In 1964, Glenn won the Green Valley (Dallas) AHRA Nationals in B/GS with a Henry-J, B&M Hydro stick, 337 cu. in. blown small block. He then moved back to New Orleans, took the motor out and went in partners with Terry on the AA/FD in late '64. Glenn changed nozzles and cam on his gasser motor and went fuel racin'! Later in '65 he went to a stroked 327, 383 cu in motor.

Original race car:

A New Orleans drag race friend, Wayne Smythe, built the AA/D chassis in his garage in Westwego, LA. Wayne was a Draftsman for Avondale Shipyards. Wayne was a good friend of Lefty Mudersbach and had purchased Lefty's last twin Chevrolet dragster, less motors. Wayne converted this car to a single unblown Chevrolet and Terry ran this car in A/FD in 1964, when Glenn was running his B/GS Gasser in Dallas.

Wayne bought components and probably drawings from Lefty. This was a "Lefty designed" car. Lefty's dragsters of the early '60's all had a 2-piece Volkswagen laminated front torsion bar. Most other dragsters used the VW torsion bar, but used it in one piece anchored in the center. Lefty's split torsion bar also anchored in the center, but separately. Each side anchor point could be adjusted separately to "jack" weight into the chassis. Glenn never adjusted them.

On this car, Wayne obtained a fiberglass chute pack body from Baton Rouge custom painter, Arty Ross. See link to story at the end of this page.

Glenn made all the brackets, built the motor and painted the car in his one-car garage in Jefferson, LA. Glenn lived a mile from another old drag race fabricator friend, Boogie Scott.
Terry drove the car, Glenn was the wrench. Glenn's brother, Robbie and friend, Forrest Ball were the crew.

Terry & Glenn had $6000 TOTAL in their car. Including enclosed trailer (bought from Garlits for $600), spare short block, blower, extra pair of slicks & wheels. They WON $4500 in 1965! Terry & Glenn made under $800 a month each, were both married with kids. Both were 27. That was the time of their lives, which Glenn is re-living now with his cackle car!

Glenn & Terry stopped drag racing in 1966 as they saw the handwriting on the wall. They knew they could no longer compete without big sponsors. Week-end warriors would not be able to win consistently in top fuel anymore.

Glenn was never a spectator and only went to 3-4 drag races in 40 years. He got involved with hydroplane racing in the '80's, was always the wrench.

This was Glenn's 1965 fuel motor set-up: 327 'Vette 4-bolt block, Milodon full main girdle, Milodon oil pump & pick up, Crankshaft Co stroker crank (3 ¾") for 383 cu in, Ansen chrome-moly rods, copper o-ringed block, Isky 550 ("Super LeGuerra") gear drive (reverse rotation) roller cam, high rev kit, mousetrap springs on roller rockers, Mondello ported '64 F I 'Vette heads (2.020 in, 1.625 ex), ForgeTrue 7:1 pistons, SS Dykes top rings, Weiand 6-71 blower manifold & drive, 18% overdrive, Stock GMC 6-71 blower clearanced by Glenn (nothing special), Hilborn 2-port, 150 pump, Scheifer mag.

None of the 1965 small block fuelers in Glenn's area could pull that cam in high gear. He knew that when he put the cam in. The only thing he did that they didn't know about, was that Glenn advanced the cam 8 degrees and opened up the valve lash +.003 on intake & exhaust.

Most all the other Chevy fuelers were running the blower @ 1:1 or 10% over. Glenn decided to try 18% overdrive, like the Chryslers were running. He figured his motor was only 9 cu in smaller than the 392's, so should need the same boost they had? Well, he lucked onto a combination that really worked for them.

The motor set-back, cam, power, tires, all worked in their favor. Car weighed 1175-1200 lb.
Glenn usually ran 25-30% nitro, tuning by varying the load instead of changing the pill. He would run 35% if they got in the finals. Glenn used an air density meter, barometer, hygrometer and thermometer and would document all results, good or bad.

Remember, this was the time BEFORE burnouts, slipping clutches, good tires, VHT prepared tracks, and long wheelbase diggers. Glenn's car had 140" wheelbase, engine out 32".
To hook-up these cars required that you smoke 'em at least 1/3 the way down, with the tires still slipping slightly through the eyes. The Chryslers were arguably makin' 1500 hp on 90%. Glenn figured he was makin' 1000 hp on 25%. Once you could spin 'em through the lights, it wasted energy (and et) to "overspin" 'em, even though those thick, smoky runs LOOKED good!
Cupit & Cunningham beat many Chryslers who smoked 'em all the way while Terry pulled them bad and won.

In 1965 Glenn & Terry's car was the "World's Quickest Chevrolet", 7.43 sec, 200 mph. They had low qualifying time at the 1965 AHRA Green Valley Nationals (Dallas). They beat current World champion, Art Malone in eliminations. They ended up 3rd overall and were the only Chevrolet to qualify. Watus Simpson, driving the Anderson Bros Chrysler beat Terry with a 7.35 and won the event. Watus also drove for Glenn's old friend, Vance Hunt. Glenn regularly sees Watus & Vance at reunions.

Shubert - Herbert was the "World's Fastest Chevrolet" in 1965. They had gone 201-202, but had never run below 7.7. THEY were the FASTEST - Cupit & Cunningham was the QUICKEST Chevrolet in 1965.

Glenn has several NHRA time slips from 1965 under 7.43. In fact they set the NHRA strip record at Monroe, LA with a 7.19! Glenn doesn't claim that time as their lowest ET, as they did not back it up.

In 1964 Wayne Smythe started construction of the CCC car in his garage in Westwego, LA. Here are some shots of the car as he completed it.

 

 

 

 

 

Terry Cunningham checking for a fit for the first time.

 

The car done (less paint and chrome), with its Arty Ross fiberglass body, in front of Wayne Smythe's house before its trip to Glenn's garage for the engine.

 

 

With the body out for paint, Glenn and brother Robbie got the engine installed and all the linkage etc. placed.

 

 

 

 

Orangeline

 

Parked in Cupit's driveway the car is done and ready to play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Malone goes down to Terry Cunningham

 

 

Cupit and Forrest Ball

 

Forrest Ball, Glenn & Robbie Cupit get Terry Cunningham suited up and "installed".

 

 

Cunningham v. Albert Waits at Monroe, LA in 1965.

 

 

 

Terry out on "Junkyard" Pete Mattei at Laplace Dragway.

 

Opelousas Dragway

 

 

 

 

 

Cunningham leaves on A.J.Gilardi at Opelousas Dragway.

 

 

 

 

 

Glenn Cupit, Forrest Ball, Terry Cunningham and Robbie Cupit.

 

 

 

 

Orangeline

 

 

 

 

In 2005, Glenn attended his 1st "Old Drag Racer Reunion" at Ennis, TX. He had been investigating what it would take to re-create his car as it was in 1965 for several months. Glenn made a deal with Boogie Scott to build the chassis as Boogie was intimately familiar with the original car in 1965. Glenn searched and bought most of the motor parts, tires & wheels, etc on e-Bay over the next 2 years. His good friend and Chevrolet dealer, Eric Lane, of Gerry Lane Chevrolet, donated a 383 crate engine and new Dart Mondello heads!

Arty Ross had donated the mold for his chute pack body to Don Garlits for his museum, in the late 1980's. Garlits made a new body for Glenn's cackle car from this same mold that the original 1964 body was made from! Boogie Scott & Glenn drove down to Garlits' shop and picked it up in early 2008.

Luckily, Terry had lots of photos of the car from 1965. Glenn scanned all his photos 2 months before Terry died in Jan, 2005. Glenn's brother Robbie made a scale drawing of the chassis from these old photos. Boogie used this drawing and made some minor changes as required to build the chassis to look exactly as it did in 1965.

The money for this project came only from Glenn's monthly Social Security checks, as he promised his wife, Betty that he would use no "household money" for his cackle car. So, it took several years for the car to be completed. In 2008, Glenn cackled it for the first time, although unfinished, at NHRR, Bowling Green, KY. He had never fired the motor until then. At CHHR, Bakersfield, 2009 he cackled it FINISHED for the first time! Boogie towed the finished car to Bakersfield.

Glenn's son, Conrad was born June, 1965. Glenn made sure he was alive & well and then left him and his mother in the hospital and went drag racing that weekend! 4 days after his 45th birthday, Conrad saw Glenn's re-created car for the first time in June, 2010. Conrad was in the seat at the 2010 NHRR cackle fest at Bowling Green!

Glenn says he is presently STILL finishing the car! Correct exhausts are being made, complete driveline being obtained and installed (2010-2011). With the help and sponsorship of Glenn's friend, Joe Mondello, at his state-of-the-art engine shop in Crossville, TN; they are building a new "race motor" for cackling . . . . as the GM Crate engine broke as Glenn was cackling on 90% at NHRR, June, 2010. It lasted for 2 years and 35 gal of nitro!

The new motor will be able to make "short smoky squirts" on untreated tracks.

Glenn was 72 years old, September, 2010.

 

We open with Boogie Scott pondering his next move. The C&C recreation was well under way at this point.

 

 

Taking shape - the engine aligned and mounted.

 

 

The Arte Ross body being fitted.

 

 

 

While Scott was starting the car, Cupit was assembling the engine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In June of 2008 the car was done sans chrome and paint but Cupit really wanted to debut it at the National Hot Rod Reunion in Kentucky so that's how the public first saw it.

 

 

Glenn was still finishing up the small stuff at Bowling Green.

 

First Cacklefest was at the NHRR in 2008.

 

 

Orangeline

 

After the NHRR the car was taken apart for chrome and paint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orangeline

 

With Scott's work bascially done, the chassis and body went to Ronnie Sandfer for paint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orangeline

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conrad and Jordan Cupit

 

Cacking at the Ranch House in Dallas, Texas in 2009.

 

 

 

 

TV Tommy Ivo looking at home during his fire-up at the 2009 CHRR

 

 

 

Cupit & Cunningham fueler with Jim Rodarmel in the cockpit for the 2009 CHRR Cacklefest.

 

 

CHRR Cacklefest at Bakersfield in 2009.

 

 

Orangeline

 

Jim Rodarmel was in the seat of the Cupit & Cunningham car at the Media Day event at the 2010 National Hot Rod Reunion.

 

 

 

 

Boogy Scott, Benny Osborn and Glenn Cupit.

 

Glenn Cupit's 45 yr old son, Conrad was in the seat for the 2010 NHRR Cacklefest (below). Conrad had never seen his Dad's car until that Friday. He and Glenn's grandson, Jordan, 12, drove in from Charlotte. He was born June 15, 1965 when Glen was racing this very car.

 

 

 

Related Links:

Cupit & Cunningham 1965 AA/FD

Arty Ross Body

Cackling:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ns4In8BHebQ&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIqAI6afJOs

http://www.youtube.com/user/glenncupit#p/a/u/0/Rgp9eN2oDeQ

http://www.youtube.com/user/glenncupit#p/a/u/1/4Htb78g3s30

 

 

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