Jerry Heasley
January 30, 2018

Was the Ford Drag Team of 1969-1970 the “most promoted Ford performance program ever?” Bob Perkins thinks so. He owns Hubert Platt’s ’69 match racer, a SportsRoof powered by a 427 Single Overhead Cam (SOHC or “Cammer”) big-block featuring a Boss 302–type side stripe and “Ford Drag Team” lettering on each fiberglass door, leaving little doubt as to who owned this team—Ford Motor Company.

Prior drag racing efforts had Ford sponsorship, but not such a direct link. As 1969 approached, however, muscle cars were such a major market force that Ford, already full speed ahead since the summer of 1962 with an overt racing program officially labeled “Total Performance,” stepped up a notch or two more. Through a company called Car Corporation in Livonia, Michigan, Ford instituted a huge program that encompassed not just six racecars for the strip—three comprising an East Coast Team, and three comprising a West Coast Team—but a performance parts program and a series of seminars held across the country at Ford dealerships.

Jon Brantmeier was the National Coordinator and Eastern Drag Team Coordinator of this program and was on the grounds at the 2017 Muscle Car Nationals to answer our questions about the Ford Drag Team. He mostly worked with the East Coast Team, which featured the colorful driver Hubert Platt. Brantmeier said, “We would bring two of the cars [to Ford dealerships], typically the Super Stock Mustang and Fairlane Cobra. Then, Hubert and Randy Payne would put on a seminar, including a film about Ford’s racing efforts, muscle parts on display boards, and a question and answer session to get a chance to talk about what would make a Ford run fast.”

The Ford Drag Team display was a major attraction at the 2017 MCACN (Muscle Cars and Corvette Nationals) on the weekend before Thanksgiving. On the left side of the display are the three blue-with-white stripes Drag Team cars.
On the right side in the front row we see the three white-with-blue-stripes West Coast Team drag cars owned by Dave Steine.

Ford also built colorful trucks and haulers to move the cars around the country. They handed out flyers and brochures and jackets. They even published a newsletter.

The program came crashing to a halt in 1971, as muscle cars declined for a range of various reasons, leaving 1969-1970 as a high-water mark for Ford in drag racing. Collectors are left with a rich heritage starting with the drag cars and the drivers, but also including memorabilia, a sea of which showed up for this display.

Bob Perkins said Hubert Platt was the “start of the entire Drag Team” program. Platt drove the 427 Cammer-powered match racer Mustang (which became Pro Stock in 1970) and the Super Stock Mustang (fitted with a 428 Cobra Jet), while Randy Payne drove the Fairlane Cobra, also a ’69 model and powered by a 428 CJ. Hubert Platt, sadly, died on September 25, 2015, at the age of 83. He had been a huge part of the resurrection of the Drag Team cars and their display at shows.

This is the 1969 East Coast 427 Cammer Match Racer owned and restored by Bob Perkins. Ford updated this Mustang to a 1970 model in the new Pro Stock NHRA class.
Introduced in 1964 to go up against Chrysler’s Hemi in NASCAR, the 427 SOHC was essentially a hand-built racing engine never installed in a production car. Ford built this engine to go up against Chrysler’s 426 Hemi in stock car racing, but NASCAR banned Ford’s new 427 in 1965 due to the fact it was not installed in a production car.

Perkins said, “When I first got the Cammer car (which was the East Coast Team Mustang that Hubert drove in 1969-1970), Hubert said, ‘You probably ought to have all my jackets and coats and uniforms to go travel with the car. Your clear trailer with all the stuff inside will make a great backdrop for the car.’” Perkins was always grateful to Hubert and his son Allen Platt for such great cooperation in selling Bob memorabilia, which helps bring the 1969-1970 era alive in this display.

Allen is a major part of this puzzle due to his enthusiasm for the program in 1969-1970, when he was 6-7 years old. Allen set up his own booth as part of the Ford Drag Team display at Chicago this past November at the Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals. In fact, without Allen, there would have been far less memorabilia to sell to Bob. Allen told us, “When I was about 12 or 13, my mom and dad split up and when he left she was going to get rid of everything. My dad was a playboy. I hate to say it. It’s not good for a marriage, and you know, that’s the way it went, but I saved his stuff because it meant something to me, and thank God, we’ve got it all to enjoy now.”

Putting the Ford Drag Team back together has been 30-plus years in the making. Gary Schwartz has had the East Coast ’69/’70 Super Stock Mustang since the mid-1980s. Perkins found the East Coast Cammer Mustang in 1981 or 1982 at Sam Yanen Ford in West Virginia on a trip to Carlisle. Dave Steine bought the two Ed Terry Mustangs four years ago from a collector. Perkins traded for the East Coast Ford Fairlane Cobra from Richard Ellis 3-4 years ago and then swapped this car to Steine for a Boss 429, allowing Dave to own the trio of West Coast Ford Drag Team cars.

Gary Schwartz owns the 428 Cobra Jet Super Stock Drag Team Mustang that Hubert Platt and Randy Payne drove in NHRA’s Super Stock class.
This is the Super Stock 428 Cobra Jet in Gary Schwartz’s 1969 Drag Team Mustang.

The Randy Payne–driven Ford Fairlane Cobra Jet team car is lost or perhaps destroyed. But, the Ford Drag Team had in their display a replica of that car, lettered and looking just like the original. John Morris, Allen Platt’s friend, owned one of the “Special Promotion” 1969 Mustang SportsRoofs made to resemble Ford’s factory Drag Team cars. Morris brought this 428 Cobra Jet, blue with white stripes and “The Going Thing” logo to the display.

For the first time in almost 50 years, the five cars and one replica, owned by Andy Snetselaar of Ankeny, Iowa, came together inside the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois (greater Chicago area). This display was two years in the making, starting with a conversation between Bob Perkins and MCACN’s Bob Ashton, who thought putting the Ford Drag Team back together would be a grand idea.

Perkins had a sea of memorabilia that he had been collecting since the mid-1980s. The show was about to go on the road. Everybody was excited. Hubert Platt was gone, but his son Allen would be there with his booth to sell nine different shirt designs, including retro shirts like the ones his dad gave out at the track, plus DVDs of his dad racing in the glory days and other memorabilia. We were there to take pictures of the display and gather information. We even did a video that you can view on the Mustang360 website. Go to mustang-360.com/events/1712-the-incredible-1969-1970-ford-drag-team.

The Randy Payne–driven 1969 Fairlane Cobra is missing or destroyed, so Andy Snetselaar of Ankeny, Iowa, built this replica.
Dave Steine’s 427 Cammer–powered Drag Team Mustang is restored to its 1970 Pro Stock configuration.
Car Corporation of Livonia, Michigan, administered Ford’s drag racing program in 1969 and 1970. The Ford Drag Team lettering on the doors of each car—two Fairlanes and four Mustangs—leaves no doubt as to the factory heritage.
Bob Perkins loaded up his clear-side trailer as part of his display of Ford Drag Team memorabilia.
What Perkins has assembled over the last 30 years of the Ford Drag Team is mind-boggling, even the film inside the original film shipping boxes (see return address is Ford Drag Team) from Ford.
This shadow box is filled with Ford Drag Club stickers and even a pair of business cards.
Perkins has even found invitations and one of the four posters that hung on the wall at the Ford Motorsports Banquet in 1969. Perkins said, “You can see Hubert’s name on one invitation, and a duffle bag Ford handed out to the racers.”
Without a doubt the most colorful character on the Ford Drag Team was Hubert Platt, seen here in the glory days with his Super Stock Mustang.
This mannequin is wearing one of Hubert Platt’s Ford driving suits.
Perkins even has Platt’s NHRA Competition Driver’s License from the Ford Drag Team.
Allen Platt and the eldest son of Houston Platt (Hubert’s brother, who also raced in the day) are today racing A/FX-altered wheelbase, alcohol-injected replicas of Hubert’s 1965 Falcon and his uncle’s 1965 Chevy II at Southeast Gasser events.
Allen Platt showed us his old Cobra jacket from when his father drag raced.
Adrianna Straub wore a 1960s-style dress that fit well with the Ford Drag Team display.
Dick Wood drove the West Coast Team’s 1969 Fairlane that came with a 428 Cobra Jet, same as the East Coast Drag Team Fairlane Cobra.
Steine’s Super Stock West Coast Team Cobra Jet is unrestored, right down to the original paint and lettering.
Dave Steine reproduced this sign from 1969 that reveals the national record-holding title in the quarter-mile of 11.49 at 120.16 mph for the Ford Drag Team.
Hubert Platt and Randy Payne—in the background is their Ford hauler with the Cobra Jet Fairlane and Cobra Jet Mustang, parked on the lawn of a Ford Division building in Dearborn, Michigan.
Ed Terry drove the 427 Cammer–powered West Coast Drag Team Mustang, seen here restored to its 1970 configuration, which is Pro Stock.
Ed Terry launches the West Coast Team Super Stocker.
The 428 Cobra Jet on the West Coast Team’s 1969 Super Stocker is unrestored.
came with a 428 Cobra Jet, same as the East Coast Drag Team Fairlane Cobra. 024-FordDragTeam-MCACN-2017.JPG Steine’s Super Stock West Coast Team Cobra Jet is unrestored, right down to the original paint and lettering. 025-FordDragTeam-MCACN-2017.JPG Dave Steine reproduced this sign from 1969 that reveals the national record-holding title in the quarter-mile of 11.49 at 120.16 mph for the Ford Drag Team. 026-FordDragTeam-MCACN-2017.JPG Hubert Platt and Randy Payne—in the background is their Ford hauler with the Cobra Jet Fairlane and Cobra Jet Mustang, parked on the lawn of a Ford Division building in Dearborn, Michigan. 027-FordDragTeam-MCACN-2017.JPG Ed Terry drove the 427 Cammer–powered West Coast Drag Team Mustang, seen here restored to its 1970 configuration, which is Pro Stock. 028-FordDragTeam-MCACN-2017.JPG Ed Terry launches the West Coast Team Super Stocker. 029-FordDragTeam-MCACN-2017.JPG The 428 Cobra Jet on the West Coast Team’s 1969 Super Stocker is unrestored. 030-FordDragTeam-MCACN-2017.J
Memorabilia like this zip-up garment bag bring The Ford Drag Team to life.
This was one of Platt’s jackets he wore when racing for The Ford Drag Team.
This vintage photo shows Hubert Platt wearing the blue Ford Drag Team jacket Bob has in his collection.
Here is Jon Brantmeier’s business card from 1969-1970.
On the left is Jon Brantmeier and on the right is Dave Steine holding up a couple of Jon’s old vintage Ford Drag Team jackets that he wore in 1969-1970.
Ford promotional literature from 1969 reveals Platt launching the Match Racer off the tree.
Participants in the Ford Drag Team display posed for a photo.
Hubert Platt and Randy Payne letting “Miss Hurst” Linda Vaughn decorate their car.
Platt billed himself as “The Georgia Shaker,” being from Georgia.
Allen Platt had these shoes made.
Dig this: the 1970 NHRA Drag Racing rulebook and the envelope in which it was delivered in July of 1970 to Ed Terry. The stamp was 5 cents.
Inside the NHRA 1970 rulebook is a photo of Platt’s Match Racer in its 1969 configuration, beside a description of the new Pro Stock Eliminator class in which this car would race for the 1970 season.
Platt made the cover of the January 1970 Super Stock & Drag Illustrated with his 427 SOHC Mustang, seen in its 1969 configuration.
Yes, there was a Ford Drag Club, too, as evidenced by this membership card.
“Drag Racing Prohibited, $100 Fine” sign is vintage; the other sign is new and for the display.
John Morris brought his “The Going Thing” promotional model that Ford introduced at Thompson Drag Raceway in Thompson, Ohio, in 1969. Both Platt and Payne were there for this event, along with their race cars to drag race, to rev up interest in performance Fords. (NOTE: Morris added the Cobra Jet logo to the rear quarters)
Ed Terry lifts the front wheels on launch in his Cammer Mustang, seen here in its 1969 match racer configuration.
Hubert signed this vintage photo for Bob Perkins’ collection. That’s Platt in the ’69 version of his Cammer Mustang.
The stands are packed to watch Ed Terry race the Ford Drag Team 1969 Super Stocker.
Hubert Platt in 1969 was in his prime racing the Ford Drag Team 427 Cammer Mustang.