Skip to content

After more than 30 years, legendary Blue Max and Cajun Cuda Funny Cars ride again this weekend

May 15, 2014, 10:55 PM EDT

Raymond Beadle's legendary Blue Max Funny Car will ride again this weekend at Rockingham (N.C.) Dragway. (Photo courtesy: BlueMaxRacing.net) Raymond Beadle's legendary Blue Max Funny Car will ride again this weekend at Rockingham (N.C.) Dragway. (Photo courtesy: BlueMaxRacing.net)

Before John Force became the winningest driver in National Hot Rod Association history, there were other drivers who were the Force of their time.

If you’re a longtime gearhead and drag racing fan, surely you recognize the name Raymond Beadle and his “Blue Max” Plymouth Arrow Funny Car, or Paul Candies and Leonard Hughes’ “Cajun Cuda,” which ruled the quartermile back in the 1970s.

Nearly 40 years later, those iconic cars will once again take to the dragstrip in the International Hot Rod Association Nitro Jam Spring Nationals Saturday and Sunday at Rockingham (N.C.) Dragway, right across the street from legendary NASCAR track, Rockingham Speedway.

The two legendary Funny Cars are part of  increasingly popular nostalgia classes in both the IHRA and NHRA (Hot Rod Heritage Series) that have been bringing back memories for longtime drag racing fans and are attracting new fans, as well.

“It’s like stepping back in time,” Dragway owner Steve Earwood said in a media release. “When I was the PR Director at the NHRA, I worked with the Blue Max guys as well as with Paul Candies and his series of drivers.

“Richard Tharp, he drove for both teams at different times, Mark Oswald, Leroy Goldstein, the list goes on. Those cars had personalities and I think that still resonates with our fans.”

The Blue Max and Cajun Cuda were among a crop of Funny Cars that not only put the NHRA and IHRA on the map nationally, they also barnstormed across the U.S. and Canada as the sport exploded to the greatest level of its popularity in more than a half-century of chasing the fastest elapsed time and top speed.

“Between them, the Blue Max and Candies and Hughes won seven IHRA Funny Car championships and four NHRA titles in the late 1970s and early-to-mid 1980s,” according to the media release. “In fact, Candies and Hughes once won both titles, IHRA and NHRA, in a single season (1984).

“Back then, the drivers were Beadle, who this year will be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in Novi, Mich., and Mark Oswald.  Now, they’re Ronnie Young of Dallas, Texas, and Mike Halstead of Fontana, Calif.

“Nevertheless, while the drivers’ names have changed, the mystique has not, which is why the nostalgia Funny Cars are among the hottest commodities in the sport.”

Beadle went on to parlay his drag racing prowess into a successful career as a NASCAR Winston Cup team owner.

In fact, it was Beadle who owned the car NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace earned his only Winston Cup championship (1989), not Roger Penske as many fans still get wrong even to this day.

Beadle had a special fondness for Rockingham Dragway while still a driver, winning the spring race there four times in seven years from 1975 through 1981, using three of those wins to springboard to the eventual championship that season.

Other legendary Funny Cars expected to compete in this weekend’s event are John Smith of Delray Beach, Fla., in a “Jungle Jim” Liberman tribute car, former IHRA Top Fuel winner and trailer manufacturer Bruce Litton in the U.S. Male Chevy Vega, and rookie Mike McIntire Jr. in the McAttack 1969 Camaro that won earlier this year at Bradenton, Fla.

Over the last few years, there has been a significant renewed interest in legendary dragsters of old, particularly Funny Cars.

Although they won’t be at Rockingham this weekend, legendary Funny Cars like Don “Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “Mongoose” McEwen campaigned their Hot Wheels-sponsored rides not only at NHRA races, but also barnstormed from one end of the country to the other. The special friendship and rivalry between the two was profiled in the recent Hollywood movie, “Snake & Mongoo$e.”

To see how drag racing was back then, check out the promotional trailer of “Snake & Mongoo$e” below:

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. Gordon’s Brickyard legacy superb, but can’t be compared to other Indy legends

    Jul 27, 2014, 7:52 PM EDT

    Jeff Gordon AP

    A world of differences make it impossible to weigh Jeff Gordon’s accomplishments at Indy against those of A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, Al Unser Sr., and Michael Schumacher.

  2. Kyle Larson has solid outing in first Brickyard 400

    Jul 27, 2014, 6:52 PM EDT

    (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images) (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

    INDIANAPOLIS – Jeff Gordon gave himself an early 43rd birthday present with Sunday’s Brickyard 400 win. Kyle Larson also gave himself an early birthday present – his 22nd will be Thursday – with a solid seventh-place finish in his first Brickyard.

  3. Joe Gibbs Racing has great overall Brickyard run, but Denny Hamlin’s car could have issues

    Jul 27, 2014, 6:13 PM EDT

    joe gibbs AP

    INDIANAPOLIS – It wasn’t quite the 1-2-3 finish they might have hoped for, but it was almost just as good for Joe Gibbs Racing’s three drivers in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch finished second to winner Jeff Gordon, followed by Denny Hamlin in third and Matt Kenseth was fourth.

  4. Kyle Busch picks up 3rd runner-up finish in last 4 races

    Jul 27, 2014, 5:41 PM EDT

    Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 Getty Images

    Rowdy continues his strong performance as of late with another P2 at Indianapolis.

  5. Kasey Kahne unable to hang on late at the Brickyard

    Jul 27, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    Kasey Kahne AP

    Kasey Kahne led a race-high 70 laps, but lost the Brickyard 400 lead to Jeff Gordon on a restart with 16 laps to go and faded to sixth.

  6. Jeff Gordon wins record 5th Brickyard 400 in vintage fashion

    Jul 27, 2014, 4:17 PM EDT

    (AP Photo/Robert Baker) AP

    INDIANAPOLIS – It was an oldie but goodie performance as Jeff Gordon – seven days short of his 43rd birthday – rallied late to win Sunday’s 21st Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

  7. Hungarian GP Paddock Notebook – Sunday

    Jul 27, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Hungary F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    One final round-up from the Hungaroring following Daniel Ricciardo’s supreme victory.

  8. Broken axle spoils Danica Patrick’s day, Brickyard win hopes

    Jul 27, 2014, 2:53 PM EDT

    (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

    A broken rear axle ended Danica Patrick’s day prematurely in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

  9. Brickyard 400 Update: Strategies shifting, but Kahne’s leading at halfway

    Jul 27, 2014, 2:43 PM EDT

    Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 Getty Images

    Strategy plays have been plentiful in the first half of today’s race at Indianapolis.

  10. Sebastian Vettel struggles to seventh in Hungary after spin

    Jul 27, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary Getty Images

    Defending world champion has a quiet race at the Hungaroring; now 43 points behind Ricciardo in the drivers’ championship.

  11. Hamilton unsure why he was asked to let Rosberg past

    Jul 27, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    Hungary F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Briton was asked twice to let Rosberg past, but he defied team orders on both occasions.

  12. Carl Edwards says he has a 2015 deal “worked out”

    Jul 27, 2014, 1:03 PM EDT

    Camping World RV Sales 301 - Practice Getty Images

    “I have a deal moving forward. I can’t announce it yet. When all those pieces come together, it’ll be announced and we’ll talk about it.” – Edwards

  13. Perez and Ericsson crash hard in Hungary (VIDEOS)

    Jul 27, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary Getty Images

    Big crashes for both Perez and Ericsson, but luckily neither suffered any injuries.

  14. Alonso: Second place “a nice surprise” for Ferrari

    Jul 27, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary Getty Images

    Best result of the season for Ferrari with Alonso second and Kimi Raikkonen P6.

  15. Announcement of Edwards’ exit from Roush Fenway had some strange timing

    Jul 27, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

    Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 - Practice Getty Images

    By making announcement hours before Brickyard 400, team owner Jack Roush didn’t seem to do Edwards any favors.

  16. Rosberg disappointed with fourth place behind Hamilton (VIDEO)

    Jul 27, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary Getty Images

    Championship lead shrinks by three points after finishing half a second behind Hamilton at the flag.

  17. Hungry Hamilton charges from the pit lane to the podium

    Jul 27, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary Getty Images

    Cuts the gap to Nico Rosberg by three points, leaving the gap at just eleven for the summer break.

  18. Ricciardo elated with second Formula 1 victory in Hungary

    Jul 27, 2014, 10:45 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary Getty Images

    Red Bull driver won a sensational grand prix ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

  19. Carl Edwards to leave Roush Fenway Racing at season’s end

    Jul 27, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT

    Camping World RV Sales 301 - Practice Getty Images

    Roush Fenway Racing announces that its 2015 Sprint Cup driver lineup will feature Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Trevor Bayne.

  20. Ricciardo rockets to sensational Hungarian GP victory

    Jul 27, 2014, 9:59 AM EDT

    Hungary F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Australian driver claims a sensational win for Red Bull, the second of his F1 career.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA

More from NASCAR America

What makes Brickyard 400 unique?

Featured video

Inside the Hungarian GP
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches