Some might have thought Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote were having a convention in Alexander City with all the decals and stuffed animals in old MOPAR cars around town. But no, it’s the 50th anniversary of the Dodge Daytona and the Aero Warriors were in town for a reunion.
Tim Wellborn is a well-documented MOPAR fanatic with the Wellborn Musclecar Museum located in downtown Alexander City and he even still owns the car he first dated his wife Pam in. Wellborn’s father was a MOPAR gearhead too.
The car was designed by Dodge to make it competitive in NASCAR in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Dodge went so far as to lose money on the production version of the car to put it on the track.
Wellborn said Dodge manufactured 500 of the Dodge Daytonas and 1,920 of the Plymouth Superbirds; that was in 1969 and 1970. Alexander City was home to 220 of the famed cars for the Aero Warrior Reunion on Friday.
“It is pretty much a dream come true,” Wellborn said. “This is the largest gathering of these cars ever in history.”
And there are more out there.
“Most of them are surviving,” Wellborn said. “There were known to be a special car even from Day 1. I would say 80% are surviving.”
Wellborn the reason for so many of the cars to be out there 50 years later are because they were good cars to start with but also people have taken care of them.
To make the event even better, eNASCAR legends associated with the car were on hand. Bobby, Donnie and Eddie Allison, Red Farmer, Gary Bradberry and Dave Marcis were all there. One of the cars designers, Larry Rathgeb, was there too for all to share stories with.
Wellborn let the cat out of the bag about the first person to reach 200 mph.
“It was not Buddy Baker,” Wellborn said. “It was Bobby Allison.”
Allison told the story. He was at test days for the car with more than a dozen drivers. He said he was given a few test laps and people were amazed at what he could do and he was faster than the other drivers on hand.
“They were all just turning the wheel back and forth,” Allison said. “I was holding the wheel straight and was able to get more speed out of it.”
The last day drivers were testing, Allison said he was given a shot with a couple of laps.
“It took two laps and I got 200 mph,” he said. “I got back and they said don’t tell anyone; you’ll be fired. The next day Buddy got in the car and did 200 mph.”
Wellborn said he broke the story to NBC Sports which is televising this weekend’s race from Talladega. Many of the winged cars will leave Alexander City on Sunday morning to go to the race and be on display, but a few will do more.
“Some of these cars will be on the track,” Wellborn said.