January 28, 2023


Still car-crazy after all these years

Fred Goeske in the pits

Goeske's Hemi Cuda II

Fred Goeske and the Hemi-Cuda II at Detroit Dragway

In 1968, Fearless Ffred Goieske replaced his rear-engine funny car with the Hemi-Cuda II and took runner up honors at the Super Stock Invitational at Detroit Dragway.
Fred Goeske in the pits at detroit Dragway
A moment in time: Fearless Fred Goeske and the Hemi-Cuda II at Detroit Dragway

Next up, Fred Goeske and the Hemi-Cuda II. The West-Coast Barracuda was backed by The Plymouth Dealers Association of Southern California.

Taken at the 1968 Super Stock Magazine Funny Car Invitational at Detroit Dragway, the photo shows the Hemi-Cuda II just before it was loaded up at the end of the event.

Runner-up at the Super Stock Magazine Invitational

Super and Stock and Drag Illustrated magazine sponsored a number of all funny car events in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The Detroit Dragway invitational was a off-shoot of the main Super Stock Magazine race which was held at New York National Speedway that year. Although the Detroit invitational wasn’t as prestigious as the big race in New York, there was an impressive field of cars on hand.

Goeske captured the runner-up spot against Larry Reyes in Bill Taylor’s Super ‘Cuda. Home town favorite Roger Lindamood had stopped Reyes in the semi-finals and was slated to meet Goeske for the title. However Lindamood couldn’t ready the Color Me Gonr Charger  in time, so Reyes was reinstated and wound up winning the event.

Detroit Dragway, the Way it Was

I really like this photo, because it sums up what it was like in that era. This was taken after the funny car final, and Goeske is preparing to load the flopper on the ramp truck you can make out in the background. While the funny car show is over, there were so many door slammers at the track that the staging lanes are still filled with cars. In those days, there were so many street and Super Stock machines around that it took the entire day to run off all the eliminators.

It is late in the day, and the western sun backlights the car and the people. Notice a young kid, who looks about 12 or 13 years old, under the front of the raised body shell,  He appears to have paper in his hand, which I assume is a handout photo from one of the funny cars.

That kid is in his late fifties by now. Chances are he doesn’t have the handout photo any longer, but I bet he still remembers that day at Detroit Dragway.

In the footprints of a legend: Hemi-Cuda II

The colorful red paint scheme on Goeske’s ‘Cuda is nearly identical to Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen’s first funny car ride: the Plymouth Dealers Association of Southern California Barracuda. That car was a stock wheelbase, rear-engine machine, powered by a blown Hemi on fuel. Fans of the ‘Goose will want to check out artist David Carl Peters, who is selling beautiful prints of  the original Hemi-Cuda motoring down the track.

The first rear-engine Hemi-Cuda didn’t last long, as McEwen and the ‘Cuda went airborne on one of the first test passes with the car. Undaunted, McEwen and Lou Blaney built a second edition that fared much better. After a short stint with the Hemi-Cuda, McEwen went back to his rail and Fearless Fred Goeske took over the rear engine car. The Hemi-Cuda became a serious contender, running over 180 mph at times, a notable achievement for a full bodied car in 1967.

The PDASC continued to back Goeske when he built a more conventional flip-top, front-motored Barracuda for 1968. The Hemi-Cuda II carried a Fiberglass Trends ’68 Cuda body on an Exhibition Engineering chassis, with late model Hemi power. Unlike the rear-motor car, Goeske didn’t seem to have any problem keeping the ‘Cuda on the ground, as he campaigned the car extensively through the ’68 season.

Tom Bonner