This is the Keeling & Clayton California Charger 1/24 vintage top fueler by 1320. Great early piece of vintage IHRA / AHRA / NHRA diecast for any drag racing collection.
One of the most beautiful dragsters of the 70's, the Keeling & Clayton dragster featured a Tom Hanna streamliner body with the parachute tucked away. This car features a unique single wheel under the body to act as a wheelie bar.
"When was the last time that you
can remember a car that won the "Best Appearing Car" award at a drag race
also winning Top Fuel Eliminator at the same event? It's been a long while,
hasn't it? But Rick Ramsey did just that in 1970 when he drove the spectacular
"California Charger" car to the win over Gerry "The Hunter" Glenn at Ontario
Motor Speedway. For years, the team of John Keeling and Jerry Clayton has
fielded immaculate automobiles in NHRA's fastest class, Top Fuel. While
they had met with modest success before 1970, it was the 26-year old Ramsey
who took them to the promised land. He followed that Ontario win with stellar
outings at the U.S. Fuel and Gas Championships at Bakersfield in '71 and
at the Orange County Professional Dragster Championships two years later.
But, despite all of their wins, and the fact that they had one of the most
competitive cars in the country, this team will always be remembered, first
and foremost, for the beautiful workmanship and lavish paint jobs that
they had on their race cars. Just ask any drag racing fan today if they
remember the "California Charger," and they'll probably say, "Yeah, that
was the beautiful blue car, wasn't it?" Yes it was!" - Bob Frey
Called by many, the best looking dragster in the history of drag racing,
John Keeling and Jerry Clayton's "California Charger" was also a threat
to whoever sat in the other lane at the starting line. Piloted by Rick
Ramsey, the "California Charger" team was one of the most professional
of the time, as well as one of the best performing.
Keeling, a TWA mechanic, and Clayton, a United Airlines pilot, started
with a 210-inch Don Long chassis. Tom Hanna fabricated the custom nose
and injector scoop and Ken Ellis built the streamliner tailpiece. With
Cerney paint and Nancy upholstery, the digger became a work of art.
After winning the inaugural Supernationals at the Ontario Motor Speedway
in November of 1970 against one of the toughest Top Fuel fields ever assembled
on the West Coast, Ramsey went on to capture the Top Fuel title at the
Orange County Professional Dragster Championship in 1971. The "California
Charger" team thundered past Don Prudhomme's 6.41 e.t. in the final round
with a 6.41 of their own; beating Prudhomme on a hole-shot. At the time,
it was the quickest, side-by-side Top Fuel race in history. This team also
posted the low e.t. at fourteen consecutive races.
The team of Keeling & Clayton continued through the rear engine
Top Fuel ranks and eventually went on to Funny Car racing before retiring
from the sport in the late '70's.