As the 1965 racing season began, NASCAR rules had been changed to outlaw the HEMI-powered Mopars that dominated the winner’s circle in 1964. The Petty clan was still promoting Plymouth and decided to take some spectacular detours to drag strips nationwide with a new type of racing car.
Lee Petty and his then-young son Richard had not twiddled their thumbs waiting for NASCAR to change its mind. Instead, they built a HEMI-engined “fish bowl” Barracuda and campaigned it on demonstration runs throughout the South. This Petty Blue rocketship—completely restored and looking like new—recently showed up at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals in Rosemont, Ill.
The first time they took the car out, it ran in the 10.50-second quarter mile bracket and hit speeds up to 140 mph. Richard Petty was well known and he had already done some exhibition drag racing before he and his dad built the Barracuda. Drag race promoters were willing to pay him to run at their strips.
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