Oakdale has a rich history of custom cars and hot-rodding. That history continues as another nostalgia nitromethane fueled funny car has been found. This one, a 1969 fiberglass bodied racecar, belongs to Richard Townsend.
Townsend grew up in Oakdale with local funny car racer Josh Crawford’s brother, Bobby. This friendship expanded though to Crawford and his father, Gordon. As the circle of friends grew through the years, Carl Ryalls came into the fold. All shared a strong interest in cars. Townsend graduated from Oakdale High School in 1987 and currently works as a general contractor, but has gotten involved with the nostalgia funny car class after watching many of his friends and acquaintances in other drag racing categories and from the boat racing venue move to this popular racing category. Originally, Townsend was going to build and race an alcohol fueled funny car, but after seeing how much fun Crawford was having with his “Blue Max” nitro fuel nostalgia funny car and the popularity of the category, he knew that was the way to go. It wasn’t an easy switch, as the race chassis he had needed to be modified to fit the new 1969 Camaro body. The original body was a later model body, not legal for the nostalgia funny car category. The bodies must be based on cars dated 1979 or older. Townsend wasn’t alone in getting the race car assembled and ready for competition as he has had assistance from several friends, including Ryalls. Crawford also provided input and assistance, based on the experiences he gained with his own funny car.
Ryalls is a mechanical engineer and is also the owner of Carl’s Tin and Chassis shop in Oakdale. He has assisted many of the race teams in and around the Oakdale area in modifying, assembling or improving their race cars. Ryalls assisted with much of the tin work modifications for Crawford’s “Blue Max” nostalgia funny car and performed many of the modifications necessary in completing Crawford’s NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car. He is currently putting his skills to use in assisting Townsend with his new 1969 Camaro Nostalgia Funny Car. His efforts include installing and/or modifying the plumbing on the new car. The plumbing includes items such as the fuel lines and fire bottle lines. Both he and Townsend have worked together to fabricate and install the tin work on the funny car body and chassis, as well as making the necessary chassis modification that will allow the Camaro body to fit correctly.
Though Ryalls has the skills and talent necessary to work on a variety of cars, from street rods to general drag racing cars, he prefers the nostalgia funny cars due to their popularity. While he enjoys working on race cars, Ryalls also enjoys driving and has a Corvette bodied funny car of his own that runs on alcohol. Once he has this car ready for competition he will race in the very popular NE1 category at events such as the March Meet and the California Hot Rod Reunion.
The NE1 category utilizes a performance index of 7.00 seconds. Cars competing in this class race “heads up/no handicap”, but are not allowed to go quicker than 7-seconds. This helps to keep the costs of racing in this class down and creates a “level playing field”.
The team, consisting of Townsend, Ryalls and friends, will travel to the Famosa Raceway (about 20 miles north of Bakersfield) this upcoming weekend to compete in the 54th Annual March Meet. Due to time restraints and delays in getting the car completed, Townsend has not been able to complete the necessary “seat time requirements” needed to get his competition license in the new car. But, this problem will not deter them in having the car competing at the prestigious drag racing event, as the driving duties will be in the hands of Crawford.
After the event, Townsend will have the time to get his own competition license, which will allow him to drive the car in competition at future events.