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      Muscle Cars: Muscle Cars: Racing - Racing Improves The Breed
    Posted on Tuesday, October 12 @ 21:02:33 UTC by Cars
     
     
      Muscle Cars Racing Improves The Breed It was a lesson learned by auto moguls long before the muscle car era: speed sells. Racing had been instrumental in the success of many of the earliest car companies, and it has been a part of the Ford Motor Company's development and marketing strategies for as long as that organization has been in business. Henry Ford, who was himself a dyed-in-the-wool speed freak, built numerous racing contraptions, and on January 12, 1904, he and codriver Spider Huff set the land speed record at 91.37 mph.

    This was truly flying without leaving the ground—not to mention more than 14 mph faster than the previous record, which had been set by the French. Power for the car, known as "999," came from a 1,156-cubic-inch 4-banger (talk about your big blocks!). This kind of derring-do garnered huge newspaper headlines all over the world—terrific publicity. This lesson was not lost on Henry's competition—not then and not now. The old saying "Racing improves the breed" was gospel, whether it was Barney Oldfield or Rusty Wallace doing the driving. Back around the turn of the century, cars were oddities—an unknown, often unreliable quantity. Race-proven performance and durability were big selling points. During the muscle car era, Ford said to hell with the 1957 AMA racing ban, and immersed itself completely in every form of moforsport. It also adopted a new slogan—"Total Performance"—and began attacking every type of competition under the sun. Meanwhile, other carmakers became similarly engaged. Both the NHRA and NASCAR had rules that required race car engines and body styles to be at least based on production models. This gave rise to the Hemi Dodges and Plymouths, Boss 429 Mustangs, ZL-1 Camaros, and a plethora of other unbelievable machinery. Among the best of the early 1960s race cars were the Super Duty Pontiacs, Z-11 Chevrolets, and Thunderbolt Fords. While they were responsi-ble for escalating cubic inches in street cars, if wasn't until Big Bill France forced Chrysler to build a number of production Hemis in 1 966 that the whole scene got a whole lot hairier. Who could have realized that in less than five years the automotive world would be as hairy as any Haight-Ashbury hippie? It wouldn't just be Hemi Mopars that arrived that year; the W-30 Oldsmobile and 427 Fairlane were also born of this marriage of street and track. Neither of these, however, would make the kind of impact that the Chrysler machines did.
     
     
     
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