Early in the 1970s, Funny Cars raced every couple of weeks at Orange County International Raceway (OCIR), Irwindale, and Lions Drag Strip. These events ranged from smaller ones featuring mostly local racers to larger ones, such as the Manufacturers Funny Car Championships, which attracted virtually all of the nation’s top drivers. In addition to these venues, Pomona Raceway and Famoso Raceway at Bakersfield spotlighted Funny Cars. The NHRA Winternationals in early February drew cars from all corners of the U.S. Bakersfield’s March Meet also featured large fields, but most drivers were locals and Southern California-based touring professionals.
The photos in this gallery feature Camaro, Corvette, Nova, Monza, and Vega fiberglass replicas—replicas that are far closer in dimensions and shape to their production counterparts than those of modern NHRA Funny Cars. Aerodynamic refinements during this era were pretty limited, as the photos show. The casual fan actually could easily recognize the manufacturer and make of any Funny Car, whether it was one of the homebuilt entrants or one from a top builder of the time.
The 1970’s Funny Cars were unique, non-cookie-cutter vehicles that were explosive, unpredictable, and highly entertaining—and it was still the era when any number of local, underfunded owner/drivers had a legitimate chance to knock off the better-funded teams and win major races ... to the delight of their Southern California fans!
Enjoy this super-cool, exclusive Chevy High Performance 1970’s SoCal Funny Car photo gallery from the archive of Ron Lewis.
Photography by Ron Lewis