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Firebrewed Dodge Funny Car: Detroit Dragway

Firebrewed Dodge funny car

Dick Smith's Firebrewed A/FX Dodge dominated the funny car show Detroit Dragway in May 1966. Tom Bonner photo (Kodak Instamatic)


Detroit Dragway 1966: For those who might think that gas funny cars couldn’t possibly be exciting, this image of Dick Smith’s Firebrewed Dodge funny car might just change your mind.

Smith was one of a loose collection of gas funny cars that showed up to do battle at Detroit Dragway in May of 1966. After the first round, it was apparent that unless Smith broke, he would walk away with the title. Smith didn’t break, and Firebrewed was the last car standing.

The car was painted in a blend of gold fading into candy-apple read. It wasn’t a pretty car; it lacked a hood and that moon tank cut into the grille wouldn’t win any best appearing car trophies. The big Dodge was a race car at heart though, and it showed every time Smith hit the starting line.

This picture shows Smith on the return road at Detroit Dragway. Most of the funny cars that day were towed back to the pits after their runs. In contrast, Smith drove the injected Hemi back under it’s own power.

Forty-four years afterward, I can still hear the car lumbering down the return road. Tanka, tanka, tanka, tanka. It wasn’t as throaty as a blown nitro engine, but it was still impressive as it idled by.

Firebrewed: an original A/FX Coronet Coupe

When I first saw the car, I thought Smith might have bought one of the famous factory Dodges and repainted it in the Firebrewed colors. Then I realized the factory Dodges of the Ramchargers, Lindamood and Landy all were hardtops, with the distinctive parallelogram rear roof pillar. Firebrewed was based on a two door coupé style, with the heavier, wrap around roof pillar. Smith either built the car himself or obtained a coupé style car from the Chrysler racing program. In either case, the car received the standard Chrysler altered wheel based treatment, with the front wheels moved 10 inches toward the front and the rear axle shifted forward by 15 inches.

A year later, in 1967, Smith returned to Detroit Dragway to take on another batch of gasoline funny cars. It was a rerun of 1966, with Firebrewed easily taking the winner’s cash.

The return of the Firebrewed funny car?

After 1967, I never saw Firebrewed again.. I assumed the Dodge A/FXer had been sold off, parted out or wrecked.

In preparing this post, I came across a reprint of the November 2009 Mopar Collectors Guide. Firebrewed is on page 26…or what was left of it. It is in pretty rough shape, but it appears mostly intact. The article indicates the current owner hopes to fully restore the old A/FX machine.

I’m happy that the old Firebrewed has been saved and is apparently undergoing restoration. The car never earned the fame that the nitro funny cars of the era enjoyed. But the big Coronet’s domination at Detroit Dragway and elsewhere make the Firebrewed A/FX Dodge well worth preserving.

 

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One Comment

  1. Richard A. Samul
    Posted March 22, 2010 at 3:13 am | Permalink

    Tom, great article on the Dick Smith’s Firebrewed 1965 Dodge Coronet A/FX. The vehicle started life as an original Factory Lightweight Dodge Ramcharger Super Stock A990. It was ordered by Dick Smith and shipped to Town & Country Dodge. Dick had it converted to an A/FX, with some work done by Jay Howell, at Dick Branstners shop in 1965. Dick raced it in 1965, 1966 and part of 1967. The vehicle was advertised for sale in a 1967 issue of Drag News. It was purchased by the father of Jeff Ross and may have been sold to another unknown party at a later date. I purchased the vehicle from Mike Spinnazolo in the mid-seventies. Mike had found it in a junk yard at Michigan & Middlebelt. It was recovered by the Inkster Police Department after being stolen and stripped. The owner never claimed the vehicle and the salvage yard took posession for towing and storage charges. Mike purchased the vehicle for the Dana rear axle that was still in it, I put in a 8 3/4″ to tow it home and stored it. I retired from Chrysler Enginnering recently and I am starting to restore Firebrewed. If anyone has any additional information on Firebrewed, or knows if Dick Smith or his brother Larry can be reached, please contact me at riclinsam@charter.net. Any photo’s, home movies, stories etc. of Firebrewed would be appreciated in helping me documenting the vehicle and with the restoration project. Thank You! Sincerely, Richard A. Samul (734) 550-2018

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