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"We looked at each other like, 'How are we going to pay for this?'" ...
Ronnie Sox and Buddy Martin made their mark in Mopar® and NHRA drag racing history with a sledge hammer. Sox & Martin are arguably the most successful racers of a generation. They helped put Mopar and Chrysler on the map.
Sadly, Ronnie Sox is gone, leaving only Buddy Martin to share the memories of their time. While the stories of their racing successes are well documented, there is another lasting, tangible representation of their greatness: their cars. That’s where Clark Rand comes in.
Clark Rand is a lifelong drag racing enthusiast from Missouri who was more than relevant in the ´60s and ´70s. He even raced in the early days of Pro Stock in one of the last AMC Hornets in the class. He raced as a hobby into the ´90s, then decided to switch his attention to his business.
By the early 2000s, Rand’s new mission was to collect, restore and share the historically significant cars of early drag racing. Two of the greatest race cars in history are standouts of his collection: the Sox & Martin 1967 Belvedere and the 1968 Super Stock Barracuda that would win a world championship in 1969.
“When I decided to stop racing and start collecting, I wanted to find cars with unquestioned heritage, that were historically significant,” said Rand. “I wanted to show people the cars and connect them with the people who raced them. When we started this, I would take the cars to shows and invite Ronnie and Buddy to the event to bring it all together. The cars are awesome, everyone gets that part. But when people could meet the drivers, it was more special. It certainly meant something to me, I hope it was meaningful to others.”
Rand’s 11-car collection also includes classics like Chrysler-sponsored racer Don Grotheer’s 1969 Road Runner that was never raced, but featured at many nationwide Performance Clinics that were sponsored by Chrysler in the ´60s and early ´70s. The cars and the stars helped sell the products in those days.
If you made it to Detroit’s Autorama this past February, Rand displayed his beautifully restored Tom Tiginelli altered wheelbase Belvedere at the show. He is also proud of a Fred Hurst ´70 ´Cuda A/Gas car with original paint, and Steve Pluger’s first round-tube chassis funny car.
But the Sox & Martin cars hold a special place in the heart of Clark Rand.
“I was around during what I call the heart of racing in the ´60s,” said Rand. “I couldn’t afford to race, but I looked up to the superstars in the sport like Sox and Martin. Their Chrysler sponsorship was a big deal at that time.”
Times have changed. A lot. “Drag racing is at a crossroads right now,” said Rand. “I’m not sure where it’s all going. It’s an odd vibe right now. I want to stay connected with the people who remember the ’60s and ’70s cars and how important they are in racing history. I want to have cars to show the younger people how the sport got to where it is today. The cars I have, the cars I look for, are the kind that I think need to be out there. The real thing, not just a tribute car, but the survivors.”
Rand has been invited to display at next year’s Autorama in Detroit, but he is still assessing his options. His show schedule has slowed over recent years, but his passion still burns. One thing is for sure, his car collection will be a significant part of his eventual retirement as he aims to keep the legends alive.