Possibly the finest drag radial machine to debut so far this year, Marty Robertson’s 1968 Plymouth Barracuda Pro Drag Radial entry, will literally stop you in your tracks. The brand new machine, which carries the timeless look of a HEMI Super Stocker on the surface paired with a no-holds-barred combination underneath, is both spectacular and unique, and it has to be seen to be truly appreciated. And with a handful of test sessions and a very impressive competition debut now under his belt, Robertson and company plan to hit the road hard and heavy for the remainder of the year with their ‘Cuda and are poised to contend in the ever growing drag radial scene.
A 46-year old businessman from Fort Worth, Texas, Robertson is no newcomer to the sport of drag racing. His stepfather brought him up through the glory days of the sport as Marty watched his dad work on cars driven by Gene Snow and Shirley Muldowney, among others. Spending his childhood in the pit area, the drag racing infection took a solid foothold in his teenage years when his stepfather helped him purchase and build a 1970 Chevy Nova, his first racecar. The rest, as they say, is history, as Robertson has been racing in some fashion since the age of 13.
Fast forward 30-plus years to 2015 and you’ll find him behind the wheel of this beautiful masterpiece.
“The car is a Jerry Bickel-built four-link chassis car. It’s a one-off build. It took a year and a half to complete, as many of the parts in the body are new, original old stock parts. I wanted the car to look as close to original as possible in regards to the overall appearance. The paint is a B5 blue, which is a factory color option,” says a prideful Robertson.
“Jeremy Evans of Evolution Race Development did the majority of the work after Bickel turned the chassis back over to us. Evans installed the driveline, electrical system, fuel system, induction plumbing, ignition and basically built the car once the chassis phase was completed. I have attempted several times in the past five or six years to build a car of this caliber and with the help of Jeremy and Patrick Barnhill, I have finally been able to realize and achieve my goals with this car,” Robertson explains.
Evolution Custom Auto and Race Development is a business owned and managed by Robertson, aside from his successful oil and gas business which has been in business for over 13 years. The capabilities of the staff at Evolution Race Development are clear in this recently completed ‘Cuda, which sports a Brad Anderson 521 cubic inch HEMI engine under the hood, a Liberty three-speed transmission with a Neal Chance converter, and of course, a Big Stuff system controlling the power being applied to Mickey Thompson 315’s mounted on Weld Racing wheels.
Brad-8 cylinder heads can be found bolted to the block with a Hogan intake manifold and dual Precision 500 lb.-hr. injectors. MSD ignition provides the spark to this power packing combination aided by a ProCharger F-3R supercharger. In the rear you’ll find a JBR 9.5-inch Floater rear end supported by Strange axles and brakes, while Penske shocks aid the fine-tuned suspension. Open the doors to this radical ‘Cuda and you’ll find a spotless all carbon fiber interior. This machine is truly one of a kind from top to bottom and start to finish.
“I couldn’t do any of this without the support of Jeremy Evans and the crew members that work in the shop and with me at the racetrack. I’d also like to give a special thanks to Patrick Barnhill for sticking by my side to see this project through and tuning this “Badfish” to its fullest potential. Patrick was very instrumental in helping design the car as well as keeping me encouraged when I got frustrated or impatient. And last but not least, I want to thank Gene Nicodemus, owner of North Star Dragway, for all of his support in allowing us many last minute test sessions, one of which lasted until six in the morning. He’s a true friend and brother to me,” says Robertson.
A married man of 16 years, Robertson enjoys his family time with wife Janet and two children, Chris and Claire, who all support and enjoy the sport of drag racing. When asked what specifically attracts Robertson to drag radial racing as opposed to say bracket racing or even nitro-burning applications, he explained, “I love drag radial racing because it brings a whole new element of challenge to the already incredibly competitive class racing world. These cars are fast and an incredible amount of fun to drive. I can’t forget to mention, the people racing in these classes are a class act and I have made some incredible friendships over the years.”
Upon the conclusion of multiple “top secret” test sessions in both Texas and Ohio, Robertson and company felt confident heading into their competition debut just two weeks ago at the Radial Tire Racing Association “Radial Rebellion” at their home track, North Star Dragway in Denton, Texas. Fans in attendance were given a special treat to see this machine in its first public appearance. The team qualified in the top half of the field with a solid 4.08 at 183 mph 1/8-mile and advanced to the semi-final round where they got knocked out by the eventual event winner, DeWayne Mills. Rolling out for the first time and posting 4.0’s on a 315 drag radial is no easy feat. This was a debut the team certainly can be proud of as they look ahead. Currently, their best elapsed time is 4.04 and satisfaction won’t be met until they dip into the threes.
“We want to run a full competitive season and run a full campaign next year with the “Badfish” and our new Pro Mod Ford Mustang rolling out this August. We intend to run in the RTRA, PDRA and NMCA series. We have an extremely competitive combination figured out for both cars and we’re planning on hunting championships with both. The team would also like to put a special thanks out to ProCharger and Xtreme Race Cars for their support with this project,” says Robertson.
The cat — or is that cat fish? — is out of the bag as yet another powerhouse effort from the state of Texas plans to show no mercy and take charge of the Outlaw 315 drag radial class. Marty Robertson is a man on a mission and with Patrick Barnhill and the rest of his passionate and committed crew in his corner, anticipate seeing this stunning machine in many a winner‘s circle in the near future.