October 20, 2021

Vintage-Nitro

Still car-crazy after all these years

Arnie Beswick's Star of the Circuit II GTO in the pits at Detroit Dragway

Arnie Beswick's Star of the Circuit was another full size funny car

Arnie Beswick and the Star of the Circuit II

Arnie Beswick attempted to make the GTO look as stock as possible. Unlike most funny cars, you can't see the bugcatcher or supercharger, but rest assured they are residing under the hood.

Arnie Beswick showed up at Detroit Dragway with two cars: Star of the Circuit II and the Super Judge. Both were fiberglass full-size GTOs. Don’t let the stock appearance fool you. Power for both cars was a blown, nitro-burning Pontiac Super Duty V-8.

Arnie Beswick needs no introduction, as he is one of the most popular drivers to slip into a fire suit. For those unfamiliar with the driver from Illinois, Beswick is known as “the Farmer” and was a frequent competitor at Detroit Dragway. Track owner Gil Kohn liked to book drivers that would attract paying customers. Kohn lined-up Beswick because the Farmer was always a crowd favorite.

Another Beswick Star of the Circuit

Nearly all of Beswick’s race cars had different names. Each time he added a new car, he came up with a new moniker and new paint scheme. The exception was the 1967 Star of the Circuit GTO. When he replaced the ’67 car with a new ’68 GTO, he kept the same paint design as well as the name.

One of the Romeo Palamides back-flip funny cars

Romeo Palamides built the 1968 version of the Star of the Circuit, which proved to be Beswick’s first flip-top funny car. Palamides also constructed the chassis of Ron Pellegrini’s Beware Buick flopper.

The Palamides funny car design was distinctively unique. Hinged at the front, the fiberglass bodies raised from the rear. Driver entrance was supposedly easier, at the expense of restricted engine access. The rest of the funny car teams showed little interest in adopting this feature.

Both Palamides cars carried a reputation for poor handling, as well. A top-end crash destroyed the Beware Buick. Beswick kept his GTO sunny side up, but rumors persist that it was difficult to drive.

Beswick maintained the factory GTO look

Beswick attempted to make the car look as stock as possible. Unlike most funny cars, you can’t see the bugcatcher or supercharger, but rest assured they are residing under the hood. Park a ’68 Pontiac GTO next to Beswick’s flopper and you would see little difference other than paint and tires. Creating a successful funny car that closely resembles the car your fans drive every day was a challenging trick, but Beswick pulled off nicely.

Two cars at once

It was unusual for one driver to run two cars at the same funny car show. I have seen drivers occasionally attempt this at a national event, but the results are usually disappointing.

I can’t say for sure, but I think Beswick debuted the brand new Super Judge at the track that night, but added the Star of the Circuit as a backup.

If my memory serves, he did run the both cars that night. It wouldn’t be long, however, before the new Logghe Judge would take over as Beswick’s primary match racer. And that will be the subject of the next post.

Still an active racer, Check out Arnie Beswick’s website.

Hot Rod Magazine profiled Beswick’s career in the Farmer’s Scrapbook