Durachrome Bug Funny Car

By Stormy Byrd

Photos courtesy of Stormy

It’s been a while, so what’s Stormy up to?
After 45 years of racing, I’m cutting back on the competition part of racing 30+ other NE1 cars in our class and going back to my first love, Match Racing

This past October I had the privilege of match racing Jeff Atamain and his jet dragster the “Beast” at Eagle Field twice. Who won? That’s a no brainer as Jeff & I agreed it was about “The show”.
My 1st pass I had a tire turn on the rim wadding up the tube inside while smoking them. The car shook so hard I couldn’t see 100′ out, so I clicked it off. Our 2nd match up was great, I changed tires and we went back up. At the drop of the flag I nailed the throttle and annihilated down the track. Jeff hit the pedal on the big “Zippo Lighter” (as Jet Car Bob use to call them) and pulled out in front. Racing a jet dragster is quite the experience with the noise, vibration and feeling the heat off the engine as is gets in front of you, but this is what I live for “The show”

Also in October my crime partner Randy Winkle, proprietor of the “Famoso Speed Shop” scored a save for drag racing’s history books, He bought the Warren Gunter “Durachrome Bug” funny car that was run from the mid late 60’s to about 71! Dru Jaxon of Bend Oregon had the car for the last decade. Randy knew this and has been working on him the past 8-9 years . Dru came to the conclusion that he would not be able to restore the car to its former glory so he had to decide if it was going to the Lions Museum or Randy. In the end Dru knew Randy would bring it back to what it needed to be. The fact is we will not only bring it back but will race it again!

Some may say why? The Famoso Speed Shop builds race cars to race. Randy & I hauled up to Bend Oregon in early Oct. to pick the car up. Meeting Dru the next morning we knew immediately Dru’s love for the “Bug” and what a truly sweet man Dru is. With the sale of the car Dru will be able to finish his sweet 68 RS Camaro so that he and the love of his life, his daughter can cruise to the hamburger stand on their cruise nights with the other hot rods.

Dru gave Randy tons of history with the car also. 8 by 10′ color shots of the car, Warren’s firesuit, his address & logbook of where he rand the Bug, phone numbers of those tracks and friends like Jungle Jim & his address. Paula Murphy – Dick Harrel etc. We also have Warren’s printed press releases for 30-second radio spots and info for the track announcers. We have the original front & rear wheels, We have original contracts with Durachrome and the bill of sale when Warren sold the car. The list goes on & on.BTW Warren Gunter is alive & well at 81 living in So Cal, we plan on having lunch with him soon to pick his brain as Warren has degree’s in mechanical engineering and worked on the Apollo!

Once we got the car home we made some repairs, laid some red basecoat and graphics on the doors, we hauled it to the Reunion for display at the Drag Cartoons booth, the car was a hit!
The car is in surprisingly great shape for sitting for 50 years. The Mike Case chassis that Mike & Warren built is virgin, all chrome moly. The body needs some glass work which I have started. While working in the inside you can still see the repairs Warren did when he hit the right guardrail at OCIR in 69. were leaving that alone as it is part of the cars history & heritage . I’ll be strengthening parts of the body that are a little thin, this along with putting some glass in the roof as we have to put an escape hatch in to make it legal.

The chassis as of this writing is getting updated. Basically, the old cage had to come off as the car did not have a “Shoulder hoop” which will get a new roll cage all the while trying to keep the original look while doing so. The car has the original Dana60 rear end which we’ll keep but change the gear ratio.
All the front-end pieces will be going out for re-chrome also. People don’t realize that the car ran 7.02 @ 214 mph! We asked Warren what the car was like at 200mph. Warren said the car stuck like glue & was very stable. The problem was off the line or mid track which in hindsight Warren said it was most likely due to the “Posi Unit” and that we should remove it & put a spool in.

Warren ran a 427 big block Chevy on 75% nitro and in four years of running it never hurt the engine! The plan is to install a 496ci big block Chevy, Mag 6-71 blower & Iron heads running on alky and a little bit of that funny yellow stuff in the tank for “stink”. We see no need to run the car as hard as it used to run. We would like to run the car perhaps in the high 7.90’s – 8.20’s @ 170 mph. we have nothing to prove with the car as we want to tour it and match race the 66/67 Jungle Jim Nova we are re-popping with Jim’s son James’s blessing, but that is another story as we’ve had the body & chassis for 2 years to get ready with the same engine combo.

The trans will be a ATI Case Turbo 400 as the mid 60’s funny cars use to run automatics in the day. The car will be painted candy apple red like it was with the gold leaf lettering on it . The car had many different paint schemes while Warren ran it as far as sponsors & placement, Painting will be done in house. As of this writing it appears Frank “Magoo” Roberts will be doing the lettering We are so looking forward to meeting Warren. We asked what ever happened to his Red Injected BBC Model T coupe he ran at Lions before building the BUG , Warren still has it, it’s his daily driver ! As a kid I loved seeing the Durachrome BuG at Lions, it was one of two nitro VW’s in the country, a 3rd would be the Mori Bros “Chev-Wagon they ran as a B/Altered on gas.

There’s never a dull day at the Famoso Speed Shop, there’s never a normal project. We don’t do normal. Were stuck on the past when cars had souls & personalities. Randy & I have been very blessed to do what we love. Randy loves bringing the past back to life then onto the next resurrection. The 66 “Dirty Sanchez” BB/FC Mustang was sold and will be going north to Washington to be in good hands as part of a 5 car BB/FC class that Randy started a couple years back, there are over 20 cars being built for this heads up, run what you brung class that the basic rules state “You can run any parts / body from what was available in 1969 on down. That does not mean you have to run a 50 year old blower. You can buy a new/fresh cast 6-71 blower. The general rule in NO BILLET STUFF. 

Click the photos to enlarge!

NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD – By Stormy Byrd

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Call Dennis today at 515-282-9996