Following a catastrophic engine explosion at the March Meet in Bakersfield earlier this year that destroyed the team’s Mustang body, Roger Garten and the iconic “War Horse” Nostalgia Funny Car are set for a return to the big stage at this weekend’s IHRA NAPA Auto Parts Nitro Jam at the Rocky Mountain Raceways with a brand new shell, complete with fresh new layers of paint re-creating the original War Horse piloted by Garten in the 1970′s.
After regrouping to repair the race car and acquire new parts and pieces, the Tocco & Garten team attended the annual Rockabilly Rod Reunion in Las Vegas, where a 6.04 best just missed the tough Heritage Series Nostalgia Funny Car field. The next stop was the Funny Car Fever event in Sacramento the weekend of June 15-16, where Roger qualified No. 5 and gave heavy-hitter and NHRA Heritage Series points leader Jason Rupert a run for his money in the opening round, ultimately falling just a bit short.
The brand new Mustang body atop the War Horse is virtually identical to the one destroyed at Bakersfield. Sporting an all-white body in Las Vegas, crewmember Justin Taylor re-applied all of the graphics to give the Mustang her identity back.
For those unfamiliar with the history of Garten and the War Horse, Garten is actually the original driver of the famed War Horse, having piloted it from 1973 to 1976. The War Horse made its debut at the 1973 Winternationals in Pomona, and after winning the 1975 NHRA Division 7 championship, Garten retired from drag racing to focus on his business and family. As we all know, the drag racing “bug” never quite escapes, and in 2010, after 35 years away from the sport, Garten retired from his construction business and, collectively with his wife Carlene, decided to spend his retirement drag racing.
The Garten’s reunited with former partner Mike Tocco and jumped headfirst into the resurgent world of Nostalgia Funny Car racing with a complete re-creation of the original War Horse, with a 1973 Ford Mustang body draped atop a Plueger chassis with a BAE and AJPE Hemi powerplant and shod with Mickey Thompson tires. Garten and the new War Horse made their competition debut at the March Meet in 2010, and to date, have carded a best of 5.87 seconds at 242 mph.