A year ago, we discussed an amazing 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona going to auction at the 2021 Mecum Indy event. That car was one of the most important pieces of Dodge motorsports history, as the first car ever to officially hit 200 mph on a closed racing circuit. While the car didn’t sell the first time around, it’s going back to the Mecum Indy auction block this year!
This Chrysler “Development Car”, broke the record on March 24th, 1970 at the then newly opened Alabama International Motor Speedway (now known as Talladega Superspeedway) with NASCAR driver Buddy Baker at the wheel. Baker would set an official lap speed of 200.447 mph with the car, making the “aero wars” a full-on battle in the sport between Chrysler Corporation and Ford Motor Company.
The car originally started its life as a 1969 Dodge Charger 500 press car, before Nichels Engineering repurposed it as an aero test car. The project was overseen by Chrysler’s “Woodward Garage” race shop by Bob Tarozzi at the direction of Larry Rathgeb just as Charger Daytona’s development was getting underway.
The car was simply known as the “Blue Car” according to the documentation of the test and later authenticated by Chrysler Racing Engineer George M. Wallace in 2001. The car wears the serial number “DC-93” and was originally raced in its Charger 500 configuration at the 1969 Daytona 500 by driver Paul Goldsmith before it was converted to a test vehicle.
The car completed its first test with the Charger Daytona aero package at Chelsea Proving Grounds in July 1969. According to Wallace, the car hit 205 mph during that test. The Daytona package resulted in a zero-lift vehicle with a drag coefficient of 0.29. Pretty impressive, even for today’s standards.
Additional testing at the proving grounds allowed for engineers to adopt several new innovations to the original car’s design. This included directional fins to direct airflow to the radiator, underbody paneling from the nose to the K-frame for better aerodynamics, and Chrysler Corporation’s first use of a dry-sump in NASCAR. Engineers also added engine bars from the shock towers to the firewall to help stiffen the chassis, while a refined cowl helped pull air at the base of the windshield.
Engineers also improved the exterior aero by adding a rake to the chassis of 1.5-degreed and flared the quarter panels in front of the rear tires for better aerodynamics.
In its first race as a Daytona, the car sat on the pole for the inaugural Talladega 500 in September 1969 with Charlie Glotzbach wearing the famous #88 colors. The car qualified with a speed of 199.446 mph, itself a world record. However, Glotzbach, along with most other drivers, sat out of the race due to a tire boycott. The pole speed had Chrysler engineers tap Baker to drive the car in a private test 6 months later, to see if they could break the 200 mph barrier.
A handful of other famous drivers had their attempts behind the wheel of DC-93. That list included Bobby Allison, Dan Gurney, Bobby Isaac, and James Hylton. After its tour with NASCAR, the car was used by Iowa racer Don White in the USAC Stock Car competition. The car ended up being retired during the mid-1970s.
It would be years until racing historian Greg Kwiatkowski was able to locate the car and purchased it from White in 1998. The car then went through a thorough multi-year restoration by legendary NASCAR crew chief and former Dodge Cup team owner Ray Evernham.
During the restoration, the car was researched to make sure that the restoration could be as accurate to the original setup of the test car as possible. The car has a 426 cubic-inch HEMI EX-144 V8 featuring a Holley Dominator carburetor on a bathtub HEMI intake, good enough to produce 575 horsepower. The HEMI is mated to a 4-speed manual transmission with a Hurst shifter. The rest of the car features period-correct speed parts, paint, body parts, wheels, and even a Letter of Authenticity from Mr. Wallace verifying the car.
The car is set to roll across the Mecum auction block on Saturday, May 21st. The car has lot number F186. For details on how to bid, you can visit Mecum.com. Mecum thinks the car could hit the $1 million mark during the auction.
The Chrysler Engineering #88 “DC-93” Dodge Charger Daytona Image Gallery:
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