Dennis Stone

Dennis Stone got hooked on Drag Racing after visiting the 1964 Dragfests at the insistance of his son Dave who had been reading Hot Rod Magazine and building model dragsters for some years. Dennis was involved in circuit racing at the time but the sight and spectacle of the American dragsters convinced him that drag racing was the way to go and he made the first of many visits to Santa Pod when it opened in 1966.

He entered his trusty E-Type Jag which he thought would be unbeatable but was brought back down to earth when he came up against some of the American muscle cars run at the Pod by US Servicemen at the time and decided that for drag racing it had to be a Yank V8. At the end of 1969 Dennis bought the Chevy powered Opus One competition altered and both he and Dave pulled it apart and rebuilt it with a few of their own ideas for the 1970 season.

The extra power Opus One was now producing was having it’s effect on the 98″ wheelbase Opus chassis pulling violent wheelstands off the line so Dennis and Dave made up some wheelie bars. On one occasion at Blackbushe one side of the bars broke sending Dennis onto the grass where it did another wheelstand breaking the other side and sending him back on the track! A new set of wheelie bars were made up this time incorporating shock absorbers.

Dennis and Dave later took it in turns to drive Opus One and after winning the final at Santa Pod Dennis drove back to the start line to receive the trophy from Bob Phelps. Commentator Brian Taylor couldn’t tell if it was Dennis of Dave driving due to the dark full face helmet visor and when he took it off Brian announced “Oh it’s Daddy” and the name Daddy Stone stuck from then on. In 1972 Opus One was replaced by Tee Rat which was developed over the years into a full blown Fuel Altered in 1974. By now Dave was doing all the driving of t he Altered but Dennis was kept busy driving Tender Trap, a Chevy pow ered Escort which ran in Super Street. A third car in the Stone’s team was the Hemi Hunter slingshot powered by a Chevy Rat, the Stones loved their Chevys.

This car ran in Top Dragster and then the new Pro Comp class and was later replaced by rear engined rails. 1976 saw the Stones team replace Tee Rat with the ex-Don Schumacher Stardust Baracuda Funny Car and yes another Chevy Rat went into it. Stardust was 3 years old and running nearly a second slower than some of the modern Funny Cars at the time but with a bit of luck and consistent mid 7 sec ETs the Stones had a fantastic year in 1976. First time out at the Easter Springnationals Stardust won the Funny Car Eliminator. Second time out at the May Day meet the blue and yellow ‘Cuda did it again. They nearly did it a third time at the July Internationals when they met Allan Bootsie Herridge with Gladiator in the final and both cars lost fire off the line and coasted up the strip.

The older, heavier Sta rdust slowed down quicker and Bootsie tripped the beams first but at the Tor Line Internationals in October the Stones were in the final of Funny Car again alongside Gladiator and this time Bootsie red lit giving the win to Stardust. 1979 saw the Stones team take over the running of the ex-Raymond Beadle Blue Max Mustang Funny Car which they renamed Stardust and slotted another Rat between the frame rails. This car came to an end at the 1983 Big Go after a fireball through the traps which totalled the car.

Throughout the late 70’s and into the 90’s the Stones team successfully campaigned their Hemi Hunter Dragsters in Pro Comp travelling all round Europe and Scandinavia. Dennis Stone co-ordinated the Pro Comp and Top Methanol class and was founder member of the European Top Methanol Racers Association serving the class until his death in 2005