FOUNDING CHAIRMAN - STUART BRADBURY 1945-2020

Ron Hope RIP

We are sad to report the passing of international Fuel Altered legend Ron Hope on 21st June at the age of 80 at his home in Tennessee.

Ron grew up in Southern California during the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Ron had a keen interest in cars, especially racecars from when he was a young boy. Even as a teenager, he was active in the Dry Lakes Racing and Bonneville Land Speed Record Racing, working with legendary Ak Miller and Jerry Kugel.

In 1964, the 20-year-old Ron and partner Jerry Tucker set a Bonneville Land Speed Record in a C/Gas Roadster using Chrysler power in a 1932 Ford roadster. Ron’s racing interests carried him through the 1970’s campaigning a Chrysler powered Gas Dragster.

Ron’s love for Fuel Altereds began during the mid-60’s and the 1970’s when he was a team member on Don Green’s Rat Trap team. While living in Chicago, racers used his home as a base of operations.

Ron recreated The Rat Trap in 1995 in conjunction with Don Green and the new car first appeared at the California Hot Rod Reunion in 1996. Since its recreation Ron has been both owner and driver of the famed altered.

The Rat Trap, as we know it today, is the latest version of the original built in 1968 at the shop of chassis builder Dennis Watson. It is the latest in a series of Rat Trap Fuel Altereds. The previous two Rat Trap Fuel Altereds, owned by Don Green, ran from 1965 through 1968 and were conventional in design. The 1969 creation however was revolutionary. It was designed with independent front suspension, a nitro burning Chrysler Hemi engine and a unique paint scheme. The name Rat Trap was the product of the “engine wars” of the 60’s when Chevrolet powered altereds (big block Chevrolet engines called “rat motors”) challenged the Chrysler powered altereds.

The Rat Trap was one of four cars which made up the legendary Fuel Altered Tours of 1970-72. Other cars on that tour were Willie Borsch with the Winged Express, Pure Heaven II and the Magnificent 7.

Five Fuel Altereds, led by Rat Trap, were featured at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and at the 50th Anniversary of the NHRA U.S. Nationals. Four of these very special cars also participate in match-races across the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain. In 2014 and 2016, Ron took part in Dragstalgia and ran at the NitrOlympX at Hockenheim in 2016. In that year he was given a special award by the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame, of which he was an international ambassador. During the autumn of 2015 the Rat Trap travelled to New Zealand to delight fans. Special t-shirts, promotional pictures and posters will help commemorate these events.

Photos: Andy ‘Tog’ Rogers

Ron lived in Franklin, TN with his wife of forty-five years, Dianne. Together, they raised six children, which have given them 18 grandchildren and made their home in Franklin, Tennessee. In addition to owner and full time driver of the Rat Trap AA Fuel Altered, he was also very active in Bonneville Land Speed Record events, driving a modified sports racer. Lord March and son Charlie, who were friends of Ron, completed licensing in one of Ron’s cars at Bonneville. Ron was a life member of the Bonneville 200mph Club, and a member of the “Dirty 2 Club” for setting a record over 200mph at El Mirage.

We send our deepest condolences to Ron’s family including Dianne and Brian, granddaughter Victoria and grandson Michael, with racing colleagues and friends.

With thanks to eurodragster.com for this tribute.