There comes a point for every racer when they realize it’s time to hang up the helmet — it’s not an easy choice by any means. Mopar man Fred Chapman thought he had reached the end of his racing career, that is, until he realized he wasn’t done making laps at the track. Chapman jumped back into the racing game with his slick 1968 Plymouth Valiant known as the “Valiant Struggle”.
The wonderful world of Mopar racing was introduced to Chapman by his friend, Joe Bailey. Growing up Chapman would ride his bike up to Bailey’s house to hang out and work in the garage around his Mopar machines. Chapman learned a lot from Bailey about cars and racing, so he just stuck with the Mopar brand based on that experience.
Now, Chapman’s racing career is an interesting one…it even has a brief pause that reminded him how much he enjoyed the sport.
“I graduated from high school in 1967 and started racing in ’68. I had a 1962 Savoy Max Wedge clone car that I built with a few friends to race. I sold that car back in 1974, but I bought it back in 1982 so I could race it again. At that point, I made it into a bracket car and raced it until 2005 when I thought I was getting too old to race. When this car became available in 2008, I decided I wasn’t too old to race so I purchased it and started racing again,” Chapman explains.
The Valiant Struggle is a Florida car that only has 43,000 original miles on it. Chapman picked the car up from a friend who wanted to use it as a drag racing project but lost interest. It only took Chapman two years to complete the car for drag racing duty.
“The engine is a 440 stroker that measures 493 cubic-inches. It’s filled with some good parts and has a set of Indy Cylinder Head EZ1’s on it, along with one of Indy’s intake manifolds, plus a Holley 1050 Dominator carburetor. It’s got a Torqueflight 727 transmission and Dana 60 rearend with 4.10 gears, too,” Chapman says.
Fred Chapman made a return to the sport of drag racing because he deeply enjoys the camaraderie the sport offers. He loves coming to the track to see his racing friends each week and the challenges the sport provides. Chapman is proof that drag racing is a sport for people of all ages.