Tony Nancy Wedge II
Tony Nancy started drag racing in early 1950s and became one of the top drag racers of the era. In 1963, he reasoned there had to be a better way to travel the quarter-mile than looking sideways around a towering supercharged motor, not to mention the inherent risk of engine explosion and fire.
Along with artist Steve Swaja, who helped develop the initial plan and designed the streamlined body, Tony had a mid-engined chassis fabricated to locate the engine behind the driver. Always one with an eye for detail and beauty, Tony called on legendary metal men Emil Deidt and Wayne Ewing to shape the swoopy body. The radical car was a stunning beauty and earned a spot on the cover of Hot Rod Magazine in August, 1964. The rear-engine design was one of the first for the rail class, and pre-dated “Big Daddy” Don Garlits and Woody Gilmore’s mid-engine designs by several years.
Tony campaigned partially-enclosed gas dragsters from 1963 through 1965. The “Wedge” (originally silver in color, then later blue) turned 187.00 mph on gas. Each rear wheel had its own torsion bar that was adjustable for load, so the chassis could be precisely set to compensate for variations in torque or track conditions.
In Tony’s words, “It handles just like a great big go-kart.” Even so, the car was badly damaged at Sandusky, Ohio in 1964, after bouncing through a dip at the end of the strip (traveling at over 200 mph), flipping over, then skidding to a stop on its topside. “I remember ducking and waiting to see that the grass was no longer moving,” Tony told Hot Rod Magazine’s Gray Baskerville. “The instant I punched the harness release, I fell out of what was left of my upside-down car.” Unhurt, and brave as ever, he couldn’t wait to rebuild the car. The rebuilt car was known as the “Wedge II”. It ran several engines at different times - first a stroked Plymouth wedge, then a blown 426-c.i. Chrysler hemi (turning in the low 8’s, at just under 190-mph), and finally a 6-71-blown Oldsmobile.
Applying lessons learned, Tony switched to a solid rear suspension for Wedge II, and installed a small rear wing to help keep the slicks planted.
Truly America’s international Ambassador of Drag Racing, he ran this car in England, Germany, Italy, Japan and Australia. On the straightaway at Monza, Tony hit 195-mph, shattering the existing Italian 400-meter acceleration records.
When Tony decided on a move up to the AA/Fuel (nitromethane) class, he reverted to a standard front-engine “slingshot” car, and the record-setting Wedge was put in storage. Sometime later, he restored it to the configuration you see here. This, then, is the original – and only -- Tony Nancy “Wedge”