Roar from the Past -- Lutz and Lundberg's 442
It's the summer of 1966. AFX funny cars abounded. Fiberglass fenders and hoods, aluminum body parts, 400-plus cubic-inch motors, fuel injection, blowers, Nitro -- just enough to make a young man beg his dad to take him to the strip on "Sunday-Sunday-Sunday! I hear the Hurst Hairy Olds is coming to Minnesota Dragways -- let's go, Dad!"
Well, we did get a show. Not only did we see Hairy, but there was this fantastic 442 Much Altered Wheel Base funny car. Man, this was great! All steel, 3020 pounds being driven by this big, blown, injected and stroked 482 cubic-inch Olds motor with Sharp intake and valve covers and with a straight axle up front. And what a fantastic paint job -- wow!
Then I noticed the names on the doors: Lutz & Lundberg. The two crazy lunatics that years later ran the yellow Anglia gasser past me last season, pulling the front wheels with every shift while carrying the left front in the air across the finish line. Man, these guys were really sick individuals. That was what I liked about them. Crazy like me! Daredevils! Apparently they rolled the Anglia at the Cedar Falls, Iowa Raceway and decided to build a new car. This time it was in the new FX Funny Car class.
Jim Lutz and Myron Lundberg belonged to the Torquers Car Club. They had some of the neatest cars around, and they were well connected. They talked Holiday Olds into sponsoring the car and got a new '98 to pull it with. They ported and polished the heads and put on roller rockers. The GMC blower was set at 24% overdrive to push the Nitro into the motor from the Endele injection unit. Roto-faze provided the magneto spark to detonate the air-fuel mixture. Goodyear slicks held the slippage to a minimum.
The motor was assembled by the best local talent, Jack Wheeler. The Cadillac Cimmaron Frost paint was applied by "Peanuts" at N.E. Auto Body. The body modifications were done by the talented Bill Gefre. Minnesota Auto Speacialties added to the sponsorship kitty along with many needed parts. Helping with the project was Dale Smith of Oldsmobile, and Jim Anderson and Bill Carson of Walser's Holiday Olds. Jim and Bill were drag racers who worked for Mr. Walser and ran a successful 1965 Stock Eliminator 442 in local competition. Oldsmobile donated the body along with some technical support. Dale Smith of Oldsmobile made sure Jim and Myron had all the parts they needed to make this work. This wasn't exactly sanctioned by the upper management of Oldsmobile, but they turned a blind eye to Dale's efforts to promote Oldsmobile.
The engine that Jack Wheeler built lasted for the two years that the car was run. When the boys leaned on it hard with 25-30% Nitro they did burn a few pistons, but they never did break a crank or a rod. The same block was used for two years -- incredible! The part that failed most often was the Turbo 400 from the GM Test Center. A couple of spares were always taken along in the trunk of the '98.
After suffering a towing accident that claimed the Olds '98, the trailer and the driver's side of the funny car, Jim and Myron decided to update the car. This was in the fall of 1966 to get ready for the 1967 season. The damaged sheet metal was replaced, the engine lowered and a shiny black paint job with gold leaf lettering was applied. The car toured the Midwest and wowed the spectators, all the time building respect for Oldsmobile power.
During the 1966-67 season, Jim and Myron competed all over the Midwest. They were tempted to go to the coasts but they resisted. They set eight national records and won the Division 5 Super Eliminator title in 1966 and 1967. Their travels took them to Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Tennessee, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska and Canada. They ran in NHRA meets and match-raced other Funny Cars. They even match raced Tommy Ivo's four Buick engine powered station wagon.
The decision to sell the car happened at the Indy Nationals in 1967. Jim was sitting in line waiting to qualify when a Mustang Funny Car got airborned at the 1,000-foot mark and killed the driver. Jim was all suited up and ready to make his next pass. He waited for them to clean up the mess from the Mustang, and when it came his turn almost the exact same thing happened. Because of his experience driving the wild and wooly Anglia in past years, Jim was able to regain some control and crossed the finish line sideways. He even qualified the car with that pass. Again Jim had entertained the fans with his lunatic style.
At that time no one considered aerodynamics. No one told them that Oldsmobile Rockets really start to fly at 175 mph. Spoilers were not used on Funny Cars, only on Dragsters. The For Sale sign went on the car at the Indy meet and someone made them an offer they couldn't refuse.
Today Jim Lutz sells real estate for Edina Realty in Suburban Minneapolis. Myron is a happy trucker haling big loads down the road. Jim is still involved with NHRA racing, and is an inspector at Brainerd International Speedway. When he gets the chance to get behind the wheel of a hot car it's still YAHOO!
The car was found a few years ago in a barn in Indiana. It is currently owned by Jerry Chapman and Curt Anderson, and his friends in Minnesota are restoring it back to its 1966 specs. A few parts are still needed to restore the engine. Somewhere along the line the Sharp valve covers, intake manifold and front cover were lost. The body needs some work, then engine needs to be built and the drivetrain needs to be gone through. Year One has donated some needed body trim parts, and the project is slowly being brought to completion.
When this car finally rolls out of Curt Anderson's garage it will put a big smile on my face. I can't wait to see the smile on Jim Lutz's face when he sees the car fully restored. I bet his first reaction will be, "Let's take it for a wild ride down the track again!"
Reunions can be so much fun!
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