Winged Warriors of the NASCAR Circuit
Ask any child between the ages of 12 and 3 who “The King” is and he will immediately direct you to the Disney-Pixar movie “Cars” and a blue 1970 Superbird that is designed to look just like the one driven by Richard Petty. The King is a talking car, voice by Petty himself, and it also wears his racing number, 43. The Cars character was incredibly popular with children who fell in love with the movie and the anthropomorphic cars, and it brought back the love for the Winged Warriors that rocked NASCAR for a few short glory-filled years.
Richard Petty: The Legend
The “Winged Warriors” was a collection of Mopar cars designed specifically to race in the NASCAR circuit. These cars were a product of the young Richard Petty deciding to part ways with Chrysler and turn to Ford because the Chrysler race cars from 1968 continued to lose to the Ford Torinos.
Chrysler was awakened to their problem when Petty left. In order to woo Petty back to their ranks, they made some major restructuring. The company designed the Dodge Charger Daytona – named for the famous race track – and with the 426c HEMI, Chrysler began to see some wins. What set the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona apart from the other NASCAR racers of the day was the huge airfoil on the back of the car and down-turned nose. These aerodynamic features earned the car the name “aero-car”, but when Plymouth put the wing on its Superbird in 1970, the name changed to Winged Warriors. The three-foot tall wings were unique and drew attention and eventually Petty came back and went on to be a legend in the bright blue 1970 Superbird.
One Year of Glory for the Warriors
Sadly, the Winged Warriors did not last long on the NASCAR circuit. Once the Winged Warriors, the Dodge Daytona Charger and the Plymouth Superbird, began dominating the tracks and winning 13 super speedway titles in slightly over one year, NASCAR made a new rule that the cars could not have the 426 Hemi; they could only have the 305 engine which took both vehicles out of the playing field.