Last time around I posted about what I believe was the very first Camaro flip-top funny car. The 1967 Detroit Autorama also boasted what may have been the first Mustang flopper; the Competition + funny car.
Strangely enough, I can find no information about this car, despite exhausting my usual sources.
UPDATE: I was able to compile a list of facts about Steve McKesson and the Competition + Mustang. See the update post here.
Draglist is my goto source for this type of information, but I couldn’t find even a scrap of knowlege about a 1967 Mustang named Competition +. I dug through old copies of Car Craft, Super Stock & Drag Illustrated, Drag Racing, Drag Strip…with no results. Repeated Google searches came up blank for “Competition +.”
This car is a phantom…except for these photos and a couple more taken at Detroit Dragway, I can’t find any proof the car ever existed. Nor do I know who drove the Mustang and what happened to it.
(additional photo after the jump)
What’s so strange is this appears to be a top-of-the-line funny car. It has a Logghe chassis (confirmed by a photo at Detroit Dragway with a LSC sticker on the side.) The body and aluminum work look first class. Assuming that SOHC Ford engine had the right stuff inside, this Mustang should have been a strong competitor to the factory Mercury Comets. If you could run with the Comets in 1967, you could run with anything in the funny car ranks.
The car is set up so similarly to the Mercury machines of Nicholson and Schartmen, that it had the potential to be one of the top funny cars in the country in 1967. Yet it apparently received no exposure, and somehow disappeared into the mists of time.
The only time I saw the car run, a couple of months after I snapped these photos, Competition + prevailed against a field that included several blown, nitro funny cars.
So what happened? How could such an outstanding machine fall off the radar?
Surely some Ford fan will come forward to identify the driver of this incredible Mustang.
14 thoughts on “The mystery of the Competition + Mustang funny car”
This car was built by Steve McKesson. Very early car. Paint by Shedlik, lettering by Hatton. While match racing down south in the summer of 1967, McKesson sold the car to Larry Coleman, of Coleman & Taylor fame. Del Hienelt was Colemans driver, and within a months time from buying the car, while racing at Indy, Del suffered a heart attack in the car, while driving, crashed and died. The car was destroyed.
I worked for Doug Nash back in the day and it seems to me this Mustang was Paul Stafanski’s.
I saw Paul Stefanski run a number of times at Detroit Dragway. His early flip-top Mustang was a notch-back style called “Boss Hoss.” He later campaigned a fastback fiberglass Mustang he called “Super Stang.” I think Daryl Huffman called this one, as I have found references to Steve McKesson and the Competition + Mustang in old issues of Drag News from 1967.
Thanks for commenting! Tom
Daryl is correct. Car was destroyed at 67 Indy and Delmar was killed. I was working at Racing Head Service at the time..and we did all the machine work on Larry’s motors. Woodard told me they thought Del had a heart attack. It was a sad time.
this is good stuff,
hope you can dig up more information like this to publish
Just found info tonight that proves us all wrong! 3 weeks before Delmar was killed, he cleaned everybody’s clock, in Memphis! Among them…Steve McKesson…in the Competition + Mustang! The mystery continues…email me and I’ll send you the link.. What made me think it was the C+ Mustang was all the GUNG-HO references and kidding in the shop coming up to the Nationals..I thought it was the car…the reality was..they were probably joking over the Memphis win!
Sorry, left out most important part..Delmar was driving the Holman-Moody Coleman Taylor Mustang…the car of record at Indy…on Draglist…
The Competition Plus became a Holman- Moody Coleman and Taylor Mustang. It is the car Del died in. McKesson blew the cammer up and sold it to Coleman and Taylor right then and there. Within a months time, Del died in the car. Told to me by Steve McKesson hisself. The old Coleman and Taylor 66 Mustang was later sold to Clester Andrews. It was also Dick Brannans original car.
I WAS THE CREW CHIEF ON THIS CAR AND SOME BUT NOT ALL THE INFORMATION IS CORRECT. STEVE MCKESSION AND I RAN AT SEVERAL TRACKS, INCL DETROIT, MILAN, GILL KOHENS TRACK IN NEW YORK, US 30 IN YORK PEN WHERE WE RAN AGAINST NICHOLSON, SHYTOWN HUSLER AND JUNGLE JIM AND WENT AIRBORNE AGAINST JUNGLE JIM IN THE SEMIS OF A TWELVE CAR MATCH RACE. WE DID RACE AT LAKELAND DRAGWAY IN MEMPHIS WHERE MCKESSON CLEANED DEL’S CLOCK IN THE COLEMAN TAYLOR MUSTANG AFTER THAT COLEMAN TRIED TO BUY THE CAR ON THE SPOT AND MCKESSON TOLD THEM IT WAS NOT FOR SALE. STEVE DID BLOW THE ENGINE AFTER THE RACE WHEN HE FAILED TO CRANK THE ENGINE OVER TO CLEAN OUT THE CYLINDERS BEFORE TURNING ON THE IGNITION. AFTER RETURNING BACK TO CARLETON, MI THERE WAS A FALLOUT BETWEEN PARTNERS STEVE MCKESSION AND BOB WILHITE. ONLY THEN WAS THE 1967 MUSTANG FUNNY CAR COMPITION + SOLD TO COLEMAN & TAYLOR TRANSMISSION. THE CAR WAS REPAINTED THEIR SIGNITURE GOLD AND BLUE METALFLAKE AND THE FUEL INJECTION WAS REPLACED WITH A BLOWER. THE CAR WAS TAKEN TO INDY WHERE DELMAR AND THE CAR MADE IT’S FATAL AND
WE ARE LOOKING FOR PHOTOS THAT ANYONE MIGHT HAVE TAKEN THAT NIGHT IN PENN 1N 1967
WOODHAVEN, MI 48183
CELL 734 626-2771
Thanks for your input. It’s great to hear from someone actually involved with the car. If you do find someone with photos from that event, let me know!
Regards, Tom Bonner
I have a couple of photos I could send you but i can’t figure how to attach them. copy past don’t work
I sent in a comment several weeks ago regarding Larry Coleman’s Super Ford Mustang funny car. I was 15 in 1967 and attended numerous races at Lakeland Drag Strip as well as the 67 Springnational, 67 Nationals and 67 World Finals, all as a spectator only. I was hoping that my comment was worthy of some value. I signed up as a subscriber to Vintage-Nitro last week if that helps.
That’s how I remember it…the new body was out to paint…Del brought the car out to the RHS shop before Indy and they worked on the motor top and fired it..I helped Del change up some brake arm things that he wanted to modify..I don’t recall seeing the car with the completed body..Del took the car back to Larry’s shop.