From 1968 to
1971 Gary Ritter and his dragster "Blood-Sweat & Nitro"
raced on almost every drag strip on the west coast. The fans
just thought the car name was so cool as it fit the times so
well. Fremont was the cars home track and he took home his share
Later in 1971 the car was sold and ended up with Tom McMinn and
Bill Tagert in Stockton, CA. Gary joined the rest of the top
fuel teams and went rear engine dragster racing. The car was
converted to a comp dragster as many front engine cars were,
a big block Chevy replaced the 392 Hemi and a transmission was
added The cage was updated, but most of the car remained the
While attending the 2005 Hot August Nights with his two restored
FED's, the "BankAmericar" and the "Mastercar"
John Ewald was approached by a guest who told him about a friend
of his who had a old dragster stored in his garage that had been
there for around 15 years. He attempted to describe it but then
mentioned that the car owner was coming up to the show. Ewald
had him call the guy and asked to bring some photos of the car
with him. When the photos arrived at the show Ewald knew a side
trip to Stockton on the way back to So Ca was worth it. Stuffed
in an old wood barn with parts all over the building sat what
has turned out to be the JIm Davis chassis, Jack Haggerman full
bodied "Blood-Sweat & Nitro" of Gary Ritter and
his partners Jack Cary and Willy Kinner. The car was delivered
to So CA the following month where the restoration was to take
One of the first outings for
Ritter in the new Jim Davis car (before nose piece was added)
was not pretty as he experienced a massive blower explosion at
Ritter and crew celebrate their
first win in early 1968. Gary Ritter, no ID, Willy and Donna
1969 March Meet at Bakersfield.
In the staging lanes of Fremont
Drag Strip in 1969. Dave Zeuschel (in blue jacket), Jack Cary,
Gary Ritter and Willy Kinner.
Fremont Dragstrip 1969
1969 Bakersfield Fuel
and Gas Championships
1970 Professional Dragster Assoc.
meet at Orange County International Raceway.
In 1971 this is the last known
photo of what the car looked like before Ritter sold it. Gary
had blow a few engines big time and the resulting fires necessitated
a rebuilt cowl and new paint. The canards were his attempt to
increase traction as other FED racers tried.
Basically another barn find...
arguably the most famous Jim Davis car ever built wasn't much
to look at when first viewed by Ewald.
After the car was stripped of
all it's paint (lots of fun!) it was delivered to Bruce Dyda's
"Dyda Race Engineering" in Gardena. Bruce had done
the restorations of the "BankAmericar" and "Mastercar"
so Ewald trusted him to do it right and restore it to it's 1970
First order of business was to
strip the chassis and send all the applicable pieces out to D&S
Custom Plating be re chromed.
Sharing the main room of Dyda
Race Eng. the car had some good company as the Tommy Ivo "Showboat"
4 engine dragster recreation was in progress.
John Ewald looking more that
a little large for the cockpit. However, this is deceiving as
he fit fine in the car when it was completed.
Bob Danly and Bruce Dyda
discuss the proper placement of the controls.
The 6-point cage was removed
and replace it with the correct 3-point hoop (below).
In short order Dyda had the original
3 point cage remounted, all the excessive mounts and brackets
removed and setup once again to take a 392 Hemi. The Haggermann
body was in very good shape except for a bent nose which Bruce
hammered back to perfect shape...no bondo on this beauty.
With the body off to the paint
shop, Dyda fabricated a new, stronger engine plate.
With phase 1 complete, the perfectly
restored Jim Davis chassis then went to IKON Powder coating in
Anaheim CA.and the body went to Paint N' Place for paint and
Stripping the seat which still
had the original paint on it revealed the gold paint that the
transparent red was laid on top of...Jerry Seivers was able to
match it perfect.
With the body still in the paint
shop, the chassis was returned from being powder coated. With
the new chrome also done, Dyda got on the restoration in earnest
starting with the cockpit including the steering, brakes, chute
levers and driveline cover.
Dyda also fabricated
a new, larger fuel tank to accommodate a long cackle.
Barry Barber of Baer's Canvas
& Upholstery crafted a perfect replication of the original
While Dyda was doing his magic,
Bob Danly, starting with a perfect hot tanked and X-rayed 392
A-1 block, worked on the engine.
Engine block filler was
added to beef up the 50 year old block.
Danly double cleaned and checked
the block specs before painting the base coat, then it was off
to the machine shop to be made assembly ready.
The master himself, Henry
Velasco did the crankshaft.
The rebuilding of the
3-disc Schaefer clutch was done by Mike Kuhl.
With the block deemed race ready,
the cam bearings were the first step in the assembly.
With the new Velasco
crank laid, 4-bold Milodon main caps were installed.
A new set of Arias pistons lay
in wait, soon to be attached to Brooks Rods
The piston/rod assembly
went in without a hitch.
A new Milodon oil pump
wraps up the bottom end.
New head studs were installed
to accommodate the Valley Head Service prepared hemi cylinder
New Crower roller rockers
were chosen to ride on the Chet Herbert cam.
Starting to look like
a fuel engine.
Complete...with Enderle Fuel
injectors sitting on a new Mert Littlefield 671 blower, a Cirello
mag, a Crower can covering the 3 disk Schiefer clutch. An Enderle
110 fuel pump attached to a Donovan drive completes the other
The complete engine was
taken to Dyda's for final fitting.
The car arrives at Paint
The chassis looks like new after
coming out of the oven at IKON Powder Coatings....next stop is
back to Paint N Place to remount body to mask off paint scheme.
Jerry Sievers applied
the gold base color.
Fink applied the clear
then color sanded it.
Paint N Place top gun Jon Fink
was assigned the task of duplicating the 1970 BSN paint scheme.
He started with primer and prep for the colors.
Jon and Jerry poured over photos
of the car in the day to make sure every move they make is perfect.
Fink tapes off the nose
for the burgundy paint.
Fast forward to lettering master
Bob Thompson who nailed the original art work.
With the final coat of
clear applied the paint comes alive with class.
Doug Bush of D&S plating
handled all the chrome work, here is holding a can he just finished
for the Frank & Funk car that Mike Kuhl is building the engines
All the controls are
are they were in 1970 - simple.
With the car basically done,
the body was taken to Dyda's for final fitting.
Just two days before its scheduled
debut at the 50th March Meet the car rolled out of DRE looking
like a million bucks.
All loaded up for the
trip back to Brea.
That night the car was taken
to John Ewald's shop and Mike Kuhl stopped by to go over everything
with Bob and Mario for a test fire up. Always a good idea to
have a trusted second set of eyes go over your efforts.
Included in this package
is a rare and original Jim Davis starter.
With Mario Garcia in the seat,
Bob Danly and Mike Kuhl do some fine tuning. The car was ready
The car made its debut
at the 2008 March Meet in Bakersfield.
Proud owner John Ewald is towed
out for the cacklefest. The car received a big thumbs up from
fans and racers as it is a real beauty.
Danly fired the engine with Leeah
Capps in the seat (John Buttera's daughter) who had never been
in a dragster before.
The cackle was very emotional
for Leeah Capps as she had just lost her dad, John Buttera, a
couple of weeks earlier. With Leeha is John Ewald and her husband,
Ronnie Capps who was a very able Top Fuel crew chief/tuner in
After the March Meet the car
was totally gone through and all parts inspected. It sits perfect
to this day.
& Nitro Top Fuel Dragster NHRA Motorsports Museum Centerpiece
November, 2008. Such a popular exhibit, it has remained there
to this day. The cars name alone is considered by many to be
the best and most recognizable fuel dragster name EVER.