This spot has quite the sting …
During the late 1960s and early ’70s, American Motors was looking to shake the stodgy look. You know, great economy, but a car maybe my parents would drive. Among the cars introduced were the Javelin and Hornet. While both could come with AMC’s inline-6s, they also could be equipped with V8s providing a ton of fun. It was along those lines that AMC went off to the races with both cars. The Javelin in Trans-Am and the Hornet in drag racing.
Remember this name, Wally Booth, because he was an NHRA Pro Stock racing legend, racing since the mid-’60s in mostly Camaros and Dodges. But in mid-November of 1971 Bob Swaim, the head of the AMC Racing Program, hit up Wally with the opportunity to join AMC’s racing efforts that would lead to his greatest accomplishments.
Wally’s first NHRA national event win came just 27 months after joining forces with AMC. On March 17, 1974, his Hornet defeated Jack Roush’s Mustang II in the Pro Stock final at the NHRA Gatornationals, 8.97 to 9.01 seconds. Think about it. An AMC beating a Ford Mustang! He continued racing and winning until his retirement in 1979.
This week’s car spot might have a bit of Wally Booth in it. I found it recently at a World of Wheels event in Milwaukee. This ’74’s body and interior are pristine and look like almost any other that might have come off the line, but underneath, well that’s a different story. AMC peeps, you’re going to like this. Instead of going to the dark side and plopping an LS engine in it. The owners, John and Kathy Bots from Summit, Wis., got ahold of a 401 and juiced it up to 1,200 hp! Gotta love that!
It’s simply great to see cars like this that keep the AMC name alive.
In researching this article, I found other interesting tidbits about the Hornet’s racing career. Pop these out at the next Cars and Coffee event you attend.
In 1973, AMC cars very nearly placed 1-2-3, in a BF Goodrich Radial Challenge Series race, but Bob Hennig driving an AMC Hornet went out while in third place with only six laps to go. BMW driver Nick Craw and AMC Hornet driver Amos Johnson ended the IMSA series as co-champions in Class B. Wow, a Hornet as fast as a BMW! Johnson also campaigned Gremlins and later Spirits and won.
Chrysler wasn’t the only manufacturer of a turbine-powered car. In 1971 an AMC Hornet was converted to a WR-26 regenerative gas turbine power made by Williams International.
In 1970, Lou Haratz drove an AMC Hornet and went on to be the first to drive completely around the widest practical perimeter of the North, Central, and South American continents for a distance of 38,472 miles in 143 days. True fact!
Who says Hornets were cheap cars and not dependable?
Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to check back next week for another spot along with some of its history. Have a great weekend.