Then in the late summer of 1960, Ron and four friends purchased the Twin Buick from Tommy Ivo for $5,000. This produced a long term friendship with TV Tom. Ron would later campaign two other cars for Ivo, the in-Line Twin Buick and the world famous 4 Buick Dragster, The Showboat. Ron's parters in the Twin Buick were Bob Gardella, Pete Gizzo, Reno Bartolini, and Don Wilson.
Reno, Pete and Don sold their share to Bob and Ron shortly after the purchase. Ron said that some weeks they ran the twin twice and the four engine twice at four different tracks.. Busy schedule. Ron raced both the 4 engine Buick and the twin until he sold the Twin Buick to Billy Herndon of Tampa, FL in 1963.
Here's a close-up of the side by side fire breathing Twin Buicks. This Gas Dragster established many firsts including, first in the 8 second bracket, first to run 170 - 175 & 180 mph on the pump stuff. The car was built in late 1959 by Kent Fuller and Tom Ivo. Here's Ron with the Speed Craft Unblown Twin Buick setting two new Standard 1320 records @ Lions Drag Strip in Long Beach, CA - 193.89 mph with an E.T. of 8.29 on GASOLINE
Ron booked the Twin Buick into 3 separate races and told TV Tom that the Twin Buick wasn't running to well and asked for his help. Ron sent Ivo an airline ticket and flew him back to Chicago, but he didn't tell Ivo that he was getting paid Appearance Money. During that weekend, Ron made enough money to pay for for the Twin Buick. What a salesman!!!
Ron also used the Twin Buick to promote Car Shows that he produced in the Mid-West. The car shows gave him something to do during the winter months plus provided him some badly needed income. Always the promoter...
I asked Ron, Who won the race? Here's Ron's answer... "Checked all the records I have and can not find the exact results. Being the
type of person I am I do not remember my wins, as I expected to win them all.
I do remember my losses and I don't remember losing to the Pontiacs. I almost sound like
Prudhomme. If you notice in the picture Eddie had not mastered the slipping
clutch yet, so I assume that I won. I raced every local hero (including
Garlits, with the 4 engined car) and won the vast majority. As a matter of
fact I do not remember losing any.
Last but not least, remember they are BUICKS and Eddie only had Blown Pontiacs."
- Pellegrini This pcx was taken the same day Ron raced Eddie Hill at Rodd Dragway.
A pcx of the side by side Twin Buick taken the Smoker's Fuel & Gas Championship in 1962. Both TV Tom and Ron said the car was difficult to hook-up due to the tremendous torque the Buicks put out. And this pcx is after Fuller lengthened the car out to a whopping 100" wheelbase. With later model tires, a slider clutch and a 150" wheelbase who knows what the car would have turned in 1962, 7's and over 200 mph???? Ron sold the Twin to Billy Herndon of Tampa Florida in 1963. Here's a pcx of the ad as it appeared in Hot Rod Magazine. Selling Price $5,000 THE IN-LINE TWIN BUICK
A nice stance of in-line Twin Buick AA/GD that Ron campaigned throughout the mid-west during the summer of 1963. The car ran in the 8.40's @ 189 mph. Ron defeated Tony Nancy's blown Plymouth Dragster in a best 2 out of 3 match race, at the time Tony held the #1 spot on the Drag News Gas Mr. Eliminator list.
Here's a great side shot of the in-line Twin...an little known tidbit of information is that the tail of Ivo's Barnstormer AA/FD was designed for this car. It would have looked great!!! TOURING THE SHOWBOAT FOR TV TOM
This is a great pcx of the 4 motor, sans smoke, you can really see how low this puppy is.
Here's the big four Nailhead Buick's doin' their thing. The car's best ET was 8.12, best mph 193+
Let's see...with a modern clutch management system, modern tires and all the latest trick stuff on 90%. What do you think the car would turn? Now let's see...would the wing go over the front wheels?...just having fun ;o)
The ol' reverse wheel stand, see how the big ring slot pulls Ron forward in the seat. THE FUNNY CAR YEARS - 1965 - 1967
Ron took the motor and drive line out of the Thunderbolt to use in this 427 Mustang.
Ron ran the car at Ford's proving grounds with the hopes that he would get the opportunity to build 100 cars ala Dearborn Steel and Tubing for Ford Motor Company. In his conversation with Ford's Jacque Passino, he told them the the Chrysler cars were going to be to fast for Fords existing program and that a tube chassis all fiberglass bodied car would keep them competitive. Ron waited over the winter for Ford to make up their mind about the project. He started to book this unbuilt car, as this is how he derived his livelihood.
Ford informed Ron that they would not particapte and it was less than a month away from his first dates (Memorial day weekend) .Over the winter Ron founded Fiberglass Ltd and made a full mustang body. He then bought the complete Dennison, Arlasky, and Knox roadster (Standard 1320 eMember Ron O'Donell was the driver) less body and put his new fiberglass body on it.
Ron said..."The first weekend the car ran over 165MPH at Detroit Dragway and the rest is history. This was the first tube chassis, blown fuel, all fiberglass funny car. The car was not a good handler with the full body. It would carry the front end thru the lights. One day it was two feet up going through the lights at Rockford. I thought that this was perfect traction as McKwen had not done his flying act yet. Ron O'Donell also drove the car as I wanted to make sure that its ill handling was not me."
BACK TO BUICKS
Ron states... "The 1967 Buick chassis was built by Logghe stamping and the interior by Al Bergler. An interesting side bar story is- if you look at the rear quarter panel you will see the name Don Schumacher co-driver. When we first started Fiber Glass Ltd. I was looking for any sheet metal to build molds. This young kid comes into the shop with fenders, hood and doors from a new 442 Olds that he wants to race. We got very busy and I had no time to make the molds for the Oldsmobile parts and I delayed him with unkept promises. Finally I talked him into getting a complete car built by R & B Automotive. It was, of course, Don Schumacher. Don rented a part of my shop for his race car operation. I had become friends with his dad, Al Schumacher, and more or less kept an eye on Don for him. Don was fearless and had some close encounters of the wrong kind. He wanted to go from injectors to a supercharger and I was concerned for his well-being. I hoped that by offering him a ride in my car he would gain more experience with the injected car. There was no holding back this kid and he turned out to be an NHRA Champion and father of Tony Schumacher todays NHRA World Champion."
Another story from Ron... "The 1968 Buick chassis was built by Romeo Palamides. Romeo was now a tenant of mine at Fiberglass Ltd.and I wanted to try a narrow chassis high gear only funny car. Romeo came up with the idea not a have the upper and lower frame rail welded to each other. He came up with uprights that had a saddle welded on one end and this rested on the lower frame rail. The idea was to transfer weight.This car always had a funny feeling in the steering and after taking it out 4 or 5 times I was not able to keep it straight. I had made up my mind (not to smart) that I would take the car to Rockford Dragway (100 feet wide) and that I would get I down the track or take it home in pieces. What was happening under acceleration the frame rails were not only lifting, but also twisting ( I think ) and this caused the car to have no steering. Luckily for me the car did a slow barrel roll on its side first and then its roof and skidded through the lights at 172MPH. The car was bent but never bit in the pavement or went off the track. I decided that I had to be either a businessman or race car driver and retired from driving that day."
This is another car that Ron owned. Driven by Ron Correnti and tunned by David Emerson. Another pcx of the car with new lettering. Another Funny Car owned by Ron - The Uni-Sun Charger...nice lookin' Here's Ron today with his beautiful wife Adeletml All photos courtesy of Ron Pellegrini & Tom Ivo