In 1969 with my return to driving Chrysler performance cars, I noticed that the car industry had changed for the better. There were many new car introductions and performance car packages available through the Dodge and Plymouth divisions of Chrysler. I was delighted to be part of the new era of high performance street cars. I looked forward to building several of the new model cars into drag racing vehicles. I always considered myself to be a MOPAR racer based on my past with some very important training from a select group of individuals who helped me along the way. With a large selection of cars to choose from for the 1969 season, it was imperative to determine which cars would be best suited for my racing operations. Luckily Chrysler Canada made those choices for me. Would I prefer a Charger, a Road Runner, a Dart, a Super Bee, a GTX? The list went on…I just wanted to race, along with my new venture of conducting performance Super Car Clinics across Canada. I was now part of a large racing family and a time I will never forget.
1969- MY RETURN TO THE MIGHTY MOPAR
With my two years away running a Funny Car, it was the right time for me to resume my passion for racing Chrysler performance vehicles. Chrysler Canada contracted me to run two race cars from the 1969 Campaign. As part of the agreement Chrysler appointed me to conduct performance Super Car Clinics at many of their Dodge and Plymouth dealerships within Canada. The 69 racing car campaign consisted of one Dodge Super Bee 2 Door Hardtop Hemi SS/E and one Plymouth GTX 2 Door Convertible Hemi SS/FA racing cars.
I attended the first Chrysler Performance Clinic in Canada in 1965 when I was driving for Argyle Chrysler Dodge. I sent a written proposal to Chrysler Canada in 1966 offering to represent their new line of performance cars. I offered to race their cars across Canada and conduct performance clinics through their Dodge Plymouth dealerships. I was fortunate to have Chrysler Canada as my Corporate Sponsor for my John Petrie Super Car Clinic program for the 1969 Campaign.
In the U.S. the clinics were being conducted by well known drag racers. The U.S. Plymouth division had SOX and Martin of North Carolina and Don Grotheer of Oklahoma representing the Plymouth line of performance cars. The U.S. Dodge division had Dick Landy from California and Bill Tanner of Georgia to represent the Dodge line of performance cars. The success of these performance clinics were remarkable for their time.
I was able to race two very competitive Chrysler cars in 1969 and was kept informed of the latest high performance innovations by the engineers in Detroit. When Chrysler Canada offered me the opportunity to represent their Dodge Plymouth performance line of cars in the late Summer of 1968, I was pleased to return to the mighty MOPAR team. Along with a Super Car Clinic program, I had limited time to prepare two race cars for the racing season. My wife Grace took care of racing schedules, Clinic schedules and business matters. This allowed me time to build the 69 Super Bee and 69 GTX before the March start date. The 426 Hemi engines were supplied already built by a Chrysler U.S. subcontractor. During the 69 Chrysler Super Car Clinic campaign, Paul Paterson assisted me in preparing the cars for racing and also assisted me at the Clinics. Grace, Paul and I would travel hundreds of miles per day to reach our next Dodge Plymouth dealership. The ’69 Clinic program consisted of promoting Chrysler performance cars, tips on engine timing and maintenance, setting up street cars for racing at the local drag strip and countless other performance tips. I would promote MOPAR performance parts at each Clinic along with Chryco Hustle Stuff accessories for their cars. I would answer all questions during the time provided including ones on Chevy, Pontiac, and Ford cars to the best of my knowledge. I also informed car owners of the necessary safety procedures behind the wheel.
1969 DODGE SUPER BEE 2 DOOR HARDTOP SS/E 4 SPEED STICK 426 HEMI
As soon as I completed the ’68 racing season with Ford of Canada, I immediatly started preparing the Super Bee for the ’69 racing season. I took delivery of a stock Dodge Super Bee. Chrysler Canada supplied me with the car and engine during the late Fall of 1968. The engines in the Super Bee and GTX convertible were built by Ramchargers of Detroit. Due to my late start with Chrysler Canada, this was the only way I could be ready for the ’69 racing season while also conducting the new Super Car Clinics. The Super Bee required some rework in order for it to compete in the SS/E class. This car was quick for its class. The new intake manifold and carburators proved to be the trick.
1969 Plymouth GTX 2 DOOR CONVERTIBLE SS/FA 3 SPEED AUTOMATIC 426 HEMI
I was very encouraged that Chrysler Canada would campaign a GTX 2 Door Convertible for the drag strip. I started testing the GTX and SUPER BEE for racing by taking both cars to St Thomas Dragway. I would test drive both cars to the max to make certain they were competitive for their class. The GTX launched extremely well off the line. The engine ran at 6000 rpm with each gear change. That was an improvement compared to the early 426 Hemi performance back in the day. With new piston and head designs I could see the potential for this mighty motor for years to come.
Note: SuperBee & GTX Image provided by Bob Boudreau