In January, 1998, the Winged Warriors/NBOA of the USA and the Mopar Muscle Association of Great Britain sent formal nominations to the Board of Selectors to nominate Al Eckstrand for induction into the Drag Racing Hall of Fame in Ocala, FL. Al was inducted into the Hall of Fame on March 16, 2000 at the Gator Nationals. Shirley Muldowney did the honors.
Santa Pod Raceway, England, 1997: Al Eckstrand made a special appearance at the 1997 Euro Mopar Nats held at Santa Pod Raceway, the same race track where he first introduced drag racing to England! The crowd loved it when Al made an exhibition pass down the drag strip in the old Charger! Shown here are photos of Al and his LAWMAN 1966 Hemi Charger, now owned by Ian Franklin as part of a nice Mopar car collection. Thanks to Tony Oksien for the photos (click on the photos to see the full size version).
Lawyer Al Eckstrand of Detroit is driving Plymouth Super Stocks at the big national drag meets this year. To millions of drag strip fans, this leaves little doubt as to who is the man to beat. Eckstrand has a reputation in quarter mile stock car drag strip racing something like Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer hold in golf. He's the man to watch if you are trying to pick a winner.
Eckstrand has lost count of the first place trophies he has won, but just offhand, he was Top Stock Eliminator at last year's Winter Nationals of the National Hot Rod Association, runner up in the Nationals, Super Stock Automatic Eliminator in the 1962 and 1960 Nationals and winner of scores of first place trophies at regional meets.
Jon Lundberg, the Lansing, Michigan announcer who handles many of the big national meets, calls Eckstrand the best stock driver in drag strip racing, "the quickest boy out of the chute", and the competitor with "fantastic" reflexes.
Eckstrand ridicules the bit about his reflexes but his record suggests he has something more than a heavy foot. He has good equipment, of course, but not better than is available from Plymouth to other drivers. His own explanation is that he is lucky.
Eckstrand's record presents a good case for book learning. Everywhere he goes, he is billed as a Detroit corporate lawyer, which is true. Law is his career. He does well at it. Driving high-powered cars is a hobby that he started with no encouragement from anyone back in 1955 when he fell in love with the Chrysler 300s of that day. Eckstrand worked for Chrysler at that time, and he has never competed in anything except a Chrysler Corporation product.
He has never had any formal engineering training, nor has he ever earned a nickel as a mechanic. His approach to the sport is that of an amateur with an analytical mind and a great desire to win. He has mastered the engineering principles that go into high performance cars and is guided by them, rather than reacting to every weird rumor that goes around the circuit. He prefers stocks because they hold the greatest crowd interest and offer the toughest driver competition.
Having won his first major victory with a TorqueFlite Plymouth Fury as a Super Stock Automatic winner in the 1960 NHRA Nationals, Eckstrand was a pioneer in demonstrating that the automatics could give the sticks a run for their money.
But he is equally at home in a manual shift car. Plymouth builds both in its 1964 line-up of Super Stocks. They promise to be hotter than ever in 1964 competition.
DETROIT, MI.....Two of the nation's top Super Stock drag racing teams, both running out of Motor City, have combined their considerable skills to compete in major drag meets during the 1965 season. They are the "Golden Commandos", who have raced Plymouths successfully since 1962, and the team headed by "Lawman" Al Eckstrand.
The Golden Commando group was formed in 1962 by eight Chrysler Corp. engineering employees, most of whom are still active in the club. The Commandos first attained nation-wide notice at the NHRA Winter National meet in 1963, when they won round after round of elimination runs and brought their gold and white Plymouth to the line for the final dash for "Mr. Stock Eliminator" honors. They lost that run by a whisker. The driver who beat them was none other than Al Eckstrand, who now joins the Commandos as their senior driver.
Eckstrand is a Detroit attorney who specializes in corporation law. He has been an outstanding figure in his hobby, drag racing, since 1960, when he first won a National Class Championship at the NHRA's National Championship Drag Races.
The Golden Commandos enjoyed an exceptionally successful season last year, and head into 1965 competition holding official records in both National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and American Hot Rod Association (AHRA) racing, as well as a place on the DRAG NEWS "1320" Record List. They set these marks with a 1964 Plymouth powered by a 426ci hemispherical combustion-chambered engine. That's the same basic power plant that was recently ruled-out by NASCAR, the southern stock car circuit---after Plymouth driver Richard Petty won the Grand National Championship---because it was practically unbeatable on major superspeedways.
The Golden Commando Plymouth, driven by team member Forrest Pitcock, also won top honors at Detroit Dragway's 1964 "World Championship" meet, one of drag racing's most important stock car events.
The new Commando team now has a 1965 car ready for competition, a Plymouth Belvedere two-door hardtop, with the latest version of the 426 "Hemi" Super Stock engine, rated at 425 hp. In racing trim, the car weighs 3,200 lbs.
The Golden Commandos also plan to unveil a second 426-inch Plymouth at the AHRA Winter Championships at Scottsdale, AZ on Jan. 29-31. This car's special fuel-injection system will be the first to be used on a factory Plymouth in super stock competition.
"Lawman" Al Eckstrand will make his first official competition appearance with the Golden Commandos behind the wheel of their A/FX super stock Plymouth, at the AHRA Scottsdale meet. Forrest Pitcock will drive the fuel-injected car in that event.
Following the AHRA meet, the Commandos will head for the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds, Pomona, Calif., where the National Hot Rod Association will stage it's 5th Annual Winter Nationals.
Just two years ago at this meet, Al Eckstrand drove against the Golden Commandos and won "Mr Stock Eliminator" honors. The group is relying on Eckstrand's top driving ability and their own superb skill in setting-up a car, to make Eckstrand the first two time Stock Eliminator at the "Big Go, West".
Veteran drag racing observers agree that the combination of Eckstrand's driving, the Commandos' tuning and set-up skills, and the tremendous performance of the 426 Plymouth Hemi Head engine will be hard to beat.
Eckstrand has also won two NHRA National Championships in the extremely competitive Super Stock Automatic Class at the Nationals (1960, 1962), plus the runner-up spot for "Mr. Stock Eliminator" honors at the '63 Nationals.
The Golden Commandos will also have an impressive amount of reserve driving strength in Pitcock and John Dallafior, who did the Commandos' driving during 1964. Both will be on hand to backstop Eckstrand. The Golden Commandos' ability to realize all of their Plymouths' competitive potential is obvious. Generally, they have had the fastest stock car at the big national drag meets. At the1963 NHRA Nationals, their Plymouth was the first stock car to turn the quarter-mile in less than 12 seconds. They presently hold the NHRA Top Speed Record for the Super Stock Class, 127.11 MPH.
The performance of the Plymouth engine design has been proven countless times in major drag racing competition, including the Stock Eliminator title at the 1964 NHRA Winter Nationals.
Later this year, the new Commando team expects to add a Plymouth Barracuda to their drag racing stable. "We'll be out to prove to the public that Plymouth builds more than one winning model," a spokesman for the new Commandos said recently.
The postcard shown below is autographed "To The Winged Warriors With Best Wishes, Al Eckstrand". Al signed it while guest appearing at the Mopar Muscle Association of Great Britain's club booth at the Doncaster Auto Show in May, 1997. The accompanying text appears on the back of the postcard:
|"Al Eckstrand pictured with one of his LAWMAN championship Chrysler Corporation race cars. During the latter 1950s and 1960s Al Eckstrand, a young Detroit attorney, campaigned a Chrysler Corporation factory sponsored race car known as LAWMAN. The vehicle pictured, LAWMAN VII, was one in a long line of drag race cars including Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler 300s with which he acquired many championship and eliminator titles throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden and South East Asia whilst at the same time maintaining a successful career in law. Al's racing career ran from 1957 to 1973. Following an extended tour of South East Asia with the United States Marine Corps working on auto safety programs for US servicemen returning from Vietnam, he returned to his law practice. Al received a commendation from the US Department of Defense for these LAWMAN safety programs which were attended by more than 250,000 US servicemen from all branches of the military."|
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