A Showpiece for the Strip

While thumbing through some old digest magazines recently, I accidentally stumbled across some more details about Damfino, the early rear-engined dragster that was a Memphis Rodders signature race car during the early sixties.

It seems that Jim Chasse wrote a feature about Damfino for the now defunct, but once popular, east coast based digest sized magazine Rodding & Re-Styling in August of 1962. The dragster's then unique engine location, and it's well maintained appearance, gave Chasse a reason to title the feature A Showpiece for the Strip.

The brief article adds to the sketchy information available on the car and it's owners, but it also creates some more inevitable questions that are still begging for answers. For starters, Chasse introduced a few new players to the script. He indicates that the car was owned by Don Ashton, Jack Friend, and Dave Maynard... but no mention of George Root. So now we have two new names revealed as partners in the project (Ashton & Maynard). Perhaps George had moved on to other things and was no longer involved as a partner with Damfino. Maybe the author just didn't know about George... hard to say for sure.

The article also reveals the class of competition that Damfino competed in (B/D) and it also sheds some light upon it's performance potential (11.76 @ 130 mph). The car ran a Hilborn injected 51 Chrysler Hemi (331 cubes punched out to 354). Casually mentioned were plans to install a larger engine, with a supercharger for some extra oomph. One has to wonder if such plans ever materialized?

The feature also states that Damfino had a "handsome body made of fiberglass". More than likely this is a glaring inaccuracy, since it's been well documented from more than one source that the car was built from a surplus aviation drop tank. But, race cars do change, and somehow Damfino looks a bit different in these photos. It's probably the hard afternoon lighting that reveals a more angular looking mid-section, but there's no mistaking that the nose and tail of the car are decidedly tank-like in appearance.

Once again, I'll turn to those of you that may have seen this car in the flesh for some more input. Just to appease my own curiosity about this unusual dragster and to perhaps shed some light on it's history with the Memphis Rodders. So feel free to leave a comment if you have some insight into Damfino, and if you like searching swap meets for old magazines, look up the August 62 issue of Rodding & Re-Styling for a few more pieces of the puzzle.