September 17, 2021

Vintage-Nitro

Still car-crazy after all these years

Muskrat Mustang

The Muskrat in the pits at Detroit Dragway

Muskrat Experimental Mustang at Detroit Dragway

The Muskrat was campaigned by J.D. Collins of Taylor, Michigan. Fastback Mustang carried a Ford 427 wedge for under the hood.
Muskrat Mustang fastback ran experiential stock at Detroit Dragway in 1966
Muskrat Mustang fastback ran experiential stock at Detroit Dragway in 1966

Although the nitro funny cars were the stars at that long-ago Detroit Dragway show, there were a variety of interesting NHRA class cars on hand as well.

The Muskrat Mustang caught my eye, with it’s bright mustard yellow paint, big slicks protruding from the rear wheelwells, hefty roll-bar and the tear-drop hood scoop.

According to the lettering on the side, the Muskrat was campaigned by J.D. Collins and used a Ford (427?) wedge for power. Apparently, it was based out of Taylor, Michigan.

It is hard to make out, but it appears the Mustang was classified as a B/EX entry. In the days before bracket-racing, everyone except the booked-in match-racers ran in their closest NHRA class. The classes were handicapped based on the national record, so racers looked for classes where the record was “soft.”

NHRA didn’t have a funny car eliminator in 1966. At the national events, the funny cars usually had to run in the altered classes. As the altered wheelbase machines grew in popularity, NHRA created a series of experimental classes. I’m not sure of the requirements for the B/EX class, but it probably included gasoline and carburetors.

The class system was difficult to manage for small weekly races. It worked great at the large meets, but at smaller events, it was tricky to handicap cars fairly. Eventually bracket racing would prove to be the most evenhanded eliminator for local races. But that was in the future. In 1966, cars like the Muskrat still raced based on the national record for their class.