Continuing the legacy of the
line of great dragsters, the Hustler VI was the last of the Top
Fuel cars fielded by the brothers Art and Lloyd Chrisman and
Frank Cannon. The original Hustler was built in the Chrisman
and Sons Garage in Compton in 1957 and engine was supplied by
Cannon having been removed from his killer 55 T Bird specifically
for the dragster.
The decision to race in the fuel
dragster class (when NHRA had banned fuel) was Frank's idea as
the fuelers were getting all the "go fast" publicity.
In its illustrious career, the Hustler won the very first March
Meet in 1959 and was runner up in 1960 and 1961 and today is
restored to original condition and appears with the engine running
at all CHRR events.
When Art parked the Hustler,
Cannon took up the cause with Hustler II and campaigned it throughout
Southern California. A succession of improved chasses, each one
carried the Hustler name, were raced. Hustler V introduced Zoomie
headers to the drag racing world and promptly became the first
car to run 200 mph on the West Coast. This brings us to Hustler
The history on this car is a
short one. It was built as the second Race Car Engineering (Woody)
factory car. The first was Paul Sutherland's Charger. The cars
assembly was finished in late January of 1965 and made its maiden
voyage at Beeline Drag Strip in Arizona. The occasion was the
AHRA Winternationals. The people involved were Woody Gilmore
owner of Race Car Engineering, Frank Cannon, Amos Satterlee employee
of Cannon, Pete Ogden, employee of RCE and current owner Don
Prieto also an employee of RCE.
With Pete Ogden at the wheel,
the car qualified first pass and ran right up to expectations.
They made several additional passes and improved the qualifying
time only slightly.
On the same weekend, RCE also
debuted the brand new full bodied Ramcharger car with Don Yates,
driver of the Prieto, Cagle and Yates fueler, at the wheel. Since
Don Westerdale (Ramchargers regular driver) could not make the
trip, Yates was given the seat. He promptly drove it off into
the dirt --- it was unhurt in the incident, and eventually qualified
for the field of 16.
The Hustler VI faced Bobby Langley
in the first round and put him away with solid 8.10 and 198 mph.
Second round was scheduled against Connie Kalitta but Cockeye
split a rod long ways and they singled. Third round they faced
Dean Turk of Phoenix in the Turk and Walmsley rail. Pete lost
in a hole shot. Pretty encouraging performance for a first time
The guys returned to California
and proceeded to out fit the Hustler VI with a full streamlined
body designed and built by Robert "Jocko" Johnson.
It was done in time for the US Fuel and Gas Championships at
Bakersfield in March of 1965 - but just barely. They had no shakedown
runs and had no idea how it would perform with the never proven
body design in place.
On the first run the car left
hard, but driver Pete Ogden reported that the motor was pulled
down in the middle of the quarter mile and didn't recover. They
cooled it down and hopped it up a bit and got back in line. The
second run, it launched hard and this time it didn't bog at mid
track, instead it smoked the tires really hard from about half
way down. Pete reported that it had plenty of power but didn't
seem to charge the last 400 feet like it should.
Since they weren't qualified,
it was decided that they would remove the streamlined body and
run the car as in conventional trim to get in the show. On the
next pass without the body, Pete qualified the car with a strong
7.75 second ET that put them in the 64 car show.
On Saturday before eliminations,
it was decided that they should make another pass to be certain
that everything was okay. It turns out that was a bad idea! The
left lane has been severely oiled down about 150 feet off the
starting line. As Pete approached the oil slick, the right rear
tire freewheeled and the car took a slow arc with the rear end
coming around spinning out. As it spun, the rear tire dug in
and the car did a quick snap roll and then up and over end over
end. Since the accident happened at low speed, only the tubing
from the engine forward got bent up. Pete was unhurt. Woody was
devastated and as one could expect quite disappointed. He tossed
the body over the fence got in his truck and headed home to Long
Meanwhile, the Mooneyham car
advanced to the second round but pushed out a cylinder wall.
They pulled the Cannon 392 from the bent up Hustler VI chassis
and stuffed it in the Jungle 4 racer in time for the next round.
Back in LA, the frame of Hustler
VI was stripped of all of the "trick" hardware, the
front end cut off and the cage was stuffed in the rafters. End
Don Prieto want's everyone to
know that this race car is more than the sum of its parts. It
is done and dedicated to the memory of those racers who were
involved in sport's greatest era. A time when a couple of guys
could gather together a bunch of parts in various garages, buy
some nitro at the local speed shop and go racing on the weekend.
Not a big budget pro fuel dragster but a consortium racer. This
is and was in my opinion, the true essence of drag racing.
Prieto drag raced with lots of
great guys beginning in 1954 and continuing through 1967 and
they included: Gene Zeller, "Jake" Howard, Wayne Smythe,
Marino Monjure, Leonard Dobard, and Bunkie Darr, all in New Orleans.
After coming to California in 1963 he raced with Don Madden,
Bobby Tapia, Don Yates, Dale Smart, Fred Blanchard, John Smyser,
The Sandoval Brothers, Gary Gabelich, Ed "Boof" Palmquist,
Tommy Cain, Howard Johansen, Mel Scott, Clarke Cagle, Frank Cannon,
Woody Gilmore, Amos Satterlee, Art Chrisman, Paul Sutherland,
Lou Baney, Roger Wolford, Neil Leffler, Joe Hunt, Bobby Sidebotham,
Pete Ogden, Lefty Mudersbach, Jim Ward, Darryl Greenamyer and
Dave Zeuschel. And of course
Louie "the Mooch"
On this restoration Prieto had
a lot of help from friends on this project and they include:
Nick Arias Jr., Steve Davis, Pete Eastwood, Trevor Larkin, Scott
Cochran, Mike Thermos, Doug Kruse, Mike Kuhl and of course Art
and Mike Chrisman.
Doug Kruse did the body
- just as it was.
The car is classic "Woody".
It was a no nonsese "business coupe" then and that
is the way Prieto restored it. No excess chrome, fancy paint
or anodized parts. There was and is nothing on this car that
didn't need to be there.
Classic chassis - classic 392
hemi. No polished blower or valve covers. Polish never added
a thousanth to an ET.
Prieto's target date for completion
was the 15th California Hot Rod Reunion. He made that date and
that is where the car made its debut.
Prieto with his "pit
crew" and old friends Olaf Lee and Glenn Cupit.
The Hustler in the staging
lanes prior to Cacklefest VI.
Brian Pain in Cacklefest
parade and at the top end.
CHRR Cacklefest 2007
found Prieto and his Hustler VI ready to rumble.
Opting to do a static
start, Prieto's stout 392 had some nice header flames.
"The Tinman" Tom Hanna
looks over the car with Don Prieto. This is a fueler real racers
just have to love.
The car was static fired several
times over the weekend. Here veteran drag racer, Wayne King lends
Prieto a squert of alky to prime the engine.
Brian Pain got the seat for this fire-up and later
in the Cacklefest.
The full body verson
of Hustler VI debuted in 2010 with Preito in the seat.
Cannons Hustler V was raced
with a tail section that was built by Willie Sutton and painted
Sierra Gold with Alpine white stripes. Hustler VI crashed having
had an unsuccessful streamline body used and removed. The current
body is a combination of the Hustler V tail shape and my interpretation
of the original Hustler I morphed onto a 150 inch wheelbase.
Both Mrs. Cannon and Art Chrisman were shown the project from
start to finish and they approved. The colors on the tail are
reversed while the nose is a replication of Hustler I. Doug Kruse,
Fred Muhlenhart (RaceTec in Oxnard), and Don Prieto did the new