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Chevoom funny car: Maynard Rupp’s 1966 Chevelle

Maynard Rupps rear-engined Chevoom Chevelle funny car won the coveted Ridler Award at the 1966 Detroit Autorama.

Maynard Rupp's rear-engined Chevoom Chevelle funny car won the coveted Ridler Award at the 1966 Detroit Autorama.

In 1966, I attended my first Autorama, the huge ISCA car show held every year at Detroit’s Cobo Hall. Scattered among the hundreds of custom show cars were a number of interesting race cars. One that stood out was this bright yellow Chevelle.

On first impression, this car might look like an ordinary ’66 Chevelle Super Sport. Look closely, however, and you’ll notice the “hat” of a supercharger injector scoop pointing rearward in the back seat.

This is Chevoom, the rear engined funny car created by Top Fuel star Maynard Rupp. Many mid-sixties AA/FD teams were antagonistic toward funny cars, because tracks were scheduling big funny car shows, cutting deeply into match-race bookings for dragsters.

Instead of fighting against the funny car trend, Rupp jumped into the fray by stuffing a blown 402ci Chrysler hemi into the rear seat area of the midsize Chevy.

Although flip-top funny cars started to appear in 1966, Chevoom was no flopper. The car features a fiberglass Chevelle body mounted on a custom frame. As you can see from the photo, Rupp got in an out of the car using the opening side door.

Rupp went to extra lengths to make Chevoom look like a stock Chevelle. All the chrome trim is there in the factory locations. Even the headers are concealed to help create the illusion that this car was assembled in a Chevrolet factory.

Actually, the car rides on a tube frame, with the engine mounted in a subframe. While many funny cars of the era used a simple roll bar, Rupp chose a full roll cage for safety.

Although the body is fiberglass, it is not one piece. The doors, hood and trunk open, just like a real Chevelle. Unlike most funny cars, which moved the wheel wells forward for traction, the rear wheels on Chevoom are shifted toward the rear bumper to allow room for the engine and transmission.

Generally, when it comes to trophies at ISCA shows like Autorama, race cars don’t fare too well. Competition cars are built to race and little attention is paid to the factors that usually win car shows. Chevoom was so well engineered and detailed, however, that the car was awarded the 1966 Ridler award for the most outstanding car shown for the first time.

Chevoom was one of the most successful rear-engined funny car of all time. The popular Dart Charger, a creation of Dick Branstner and driven by Jay Howell, was a similar blown, fuel-burning rear-engine funny car that made headlines wherever it raced. In 1965, Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen got behind the wheel of a rear-engine Barracuda, which promptly went airborne and crashed. Most of the other experiments with placing the engine behind the driver in a funny car failed to live up to expectations.

Rupp ran the Chevelle successfully for a couple of seasons, then jumped behind the wheel of the more conventional flip-top Steffey and Rupp Mercury Cougar.

In preparing this post I discovered that the old Chevoom still exists. Although it appears considerably worse for wear, this photo on Flickr shows the former Rupp Chevelle as it looked in 2006. Apparently it was in storage somewhere for a long time.

I have seen various accounts that Chevoom is either undergoing restoration or has been completely restored. I have yet to learn any details or to see any photos of the refurbished funny car. I am curious to know if the car will race again or if the restoration will result in a static show car. Either way, it is good to know that this colorful piece of drag racing history is still around.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Posted July 10, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    I saw the Chevoom today. It lives in the lower level of a barn that has been converted into a shop in South Central PA. It has been there at least 20 years. It still has the original paint and lettering on it but it is rough rough! As far as I recall when the present owner got it many years ago it had a BBC in it. He has since put a 392 block with a blower just sitting on top. I doubt if it will ever race again due to tech. It is living with some good friends, a 37 Ford Gasser ( a REAL one, not some late creation) a 71 (or so) Camaro fuuny car, a fastback (extremely rare) early Chevy II and some other cool stuff.

  2. Bob Benson
    Posted December 8, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    I was happy to hear Chevoom is alive /but sorry not too well. I was a 20 yr.old street racer
    in Ashtabula,OH (1967) with my hot 66′ GTO when a local Speed Shop owner bought
    the car. I only saw it start up & run from the local Sunoco gas station to our Manners
    Big Boy. Those were the good old days……………………………

    Bob

  3. Frank Omilion
    Posted May 2, 2013 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    My dad and I use to go out to the dragway with chevoom and Maynard Rupp. I have pictures standing next to it as a young boy. I also have 8mm movies of the car racing and have since been collecting as much litature and pictures that I can find.We also went with Maynard when he was with Roy Steffy and the STP cougarcountry fliptop funnycar.It sure would be nice to see the chevoom again. I would have tried to buy the car if I could have back in the day.

  4. Frank Omilion
    Posted May 2, 2013 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    I understand the car is in Gettysburg Pa. If the gentleman that owns it reads this post please contact me if you are interested in selling it, if you don’t have the time to restore it yourself.

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