January 26, 2023


Still car-crazy after all these years

Arnie Beswick's Super Judge GTO is shown next to the older Beswick Star of the Circuit GTO.

Arnie Beswick brought both of his full size GTOs to Detroit Dragway

Arnie The Farmer Beswick and the Super Judge GTO

Beswick's Super Judge was a welcome addition to the ranks of touring floppers in 1969. Any funny car show benefited when the pumpkin orange GTO was on hand.

Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick and the Super Judge GTO at Detroit Dragway.

The last time around I looked at Arnie Beswick’s Star of the Circuit II funny car. Beswick had a second car at the same event, the tangerine orange Super Judge.

Arnie Beswick's Super Judge Logghe Chassis Detroit Dragway
Arnie Beswick’s Super Judge displays its Logghe Chassis

It’s wasn’t often that two full-size flip-top GTOs turned up at the same event. My guess is Beswick’s was experimenting with the brand new Judge and he brought the Star along as a backup.

Here come da Judge

If you didn’t grow up in that era, you are probably wondering why Beswick chose to name the car the Judge. Before the advent of the internet, people got their memes from popular television programs. One zany show in the late ’60s was Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. The comedy featured a character chanting “Here come da judge, Here come da judge.” It wasn’t very long before everyone started greeting each other with that mantra.

Pontiac never allowed grass to grow under their tires, so they created a new trim level for the GTO called the Judge. Pontiac selected a bright dayglo orange as the standard Judge paint color.

As a dyed-in-the-wool Pontiac lover, Beswick had to add a Judge funny car to his fleet of racers. In a Hot Rod magazine profile, Beswick says “I guess you could say it (the Super Judge) was my first professionally built car.”

The Super Judge: State of the Art Funny Car

Although it looked similar to the Star of the Circuit II, the Super Judge boasted a host of refinements, starting with a cutting-edge Logghe Chassis and tin work by metal master Al Bergler. Almost everywhere you look, the Super Judge was a step up from Beswick’s past rides. Unlike its predecessor, this one flipped up from the front just like all the first-class floppers. It was a state of the art fuel funny car.

One thing did not change, however. The powerplant was still a Pontiac Super Duty V-8. Wacky racers were becoming more common in the funny car ranks, but Beswick still relied on Pontiac power for his Pontiac race cars.

Full Size GTO

That full-size body was both a blessing and a curse. Promotors and fans loved the diversity of seeing the big GTO in fields full of look-alike Mustangs, Camaros, and ‘Cudas. But Beswick had to punch through a wall of air with that wide, square body.

Beswick wasn’t the only one with an oversize car; there were Chargers and Torinos on the match-race circuit. Fred Goeske even campaigned a full-scale Road Runner. Don and Roy Gay also fielded a similar bodied GTO.

Despite its size, the Super Judge was a successful match-racer. The website Draglist reports Beswick recorded a best of 6.91 at 213.00mph with the car, which are pretty fair numbers for 1969.

Beswick apparently had a fondness for the GTO Judge. In addition to the fuel funny car, he also had a Pro Stocker called the Righteous Judge, as well as a class legal D-Stock Judge.

Beswick says he only ran the Pro Stock car a few times because so many track owners wanted to book the funny car.

The Super Judge gave way to the Boss Bird

Even Beswick couldn’t keep the full-size funny car competitive indefinitely. The aerodynamic benefit of the pony cars and compacts was too great. Beswick eventually abandoned the big GTO body for a skinnier Firebird. He actually campaigned two Boss Bird TransAms in 1970. According to Logghe Historian Dave Paine, Beswick recycled the chassis of the Super Judge and used it under one of the Firebird bodies.

Beswick was a huge draw and any car driven by the Farmer would have become popular. The many models and collectible miniatures of the Super Judge only enhanced the car’s appeal. One of the most celebrated of these was the MPC 1/25 scale model of the Super Judge. These kits are still popular today.

The Super Judge was a welcome addition to the ranks of touring floppers in 1969. Any funny car show benefited when the pumpkin orange GTO was on hand.

Arnie Beswick Merchandise on eBay: Diecast, Plastic Models, Oranaments and more!

You can see more information about Arnie Beswick at the Pontiac Preservation Society:

Tom Bonner