In 1969, you could hardly pick up a drag-racing magazine without spotting a picture of Sam Auxier Jr.'s '69 Mustang. Based in Maryland, Sam and his red, white, and blue fastback match-raced all over the northeast, taking on big names in drag racing like Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins, Ronnie Sox, and Al Joniec. Also a competitor in the UDRA's Ultra Stock class, where it earned Cars magazine's title as "Ultimate Ultra Stocker," Sam's Mustang was a pre-cursor to what eventually became Pro Stock.
Sam's racing career started in 1963 when, at the age of 19, he built a 427-powered Galaxie to race at his local track. By 1964, he was driving A/FX Comets, which led to a stint in Bondy Long's "Bowani II" '65 Mustang during the 1968 season. For 1969, Sam decided to campaign his own car, starting with a '69 fastback body-in-white from Ford and building it around the rules for UDRA Ultra Stock, a heads-up class that was a lot closer to funny car than stock. Rules allowed any engine modification, a maximum of two four-barrel carburetors, fiberglass body components, straight front axles, and gutted interior. With power from a dual-quad Tunnel-Port 427, the Mustang was capable of low 10-second quarter-mile ETs.
Sam stayed plenty busy throughout 1969 with his 427 Mustang, competing in UDRA, AHRA, and NASCAR (yes, it sanctioned drag racing in the 1960s) events and match-racing against other name drivers across the country. He garnered plenty of magazine coverage by winning titles at events staged by Super Stock and Cars magazines. He is especially proud of the fact that he beat Ronnie Sox at the '69 Cars championships, then defeated Grumpy Jenkins in the finals for the second year in a row. Even Hot Rod magazine took notice and featured Sam's Mustang in the August '69 issue.
In racing, there's nothing more worthless than last year's race car, so Sam sold his '69 Mustang in November 1969 and moved on to the Pro Stock ranks with a '70 Maverick and, later, a '71 Mustang fastback. The '69 was purchased by Greg Viscome, who continued racing it for several years before selling to yet another racer. Sam eventually lost track of his Ultra Stock Mustang.
Recently, Todd Claxton, whose father had worked on the '69 with Sam, found the Mustang in a Frederick, Maryland, garage where it had been sitting for nearly ten years. After decades of racing followed by years of neglect, Sam says, "It was in rough, rough condition. It had been through at least seven different owners. The rearend had been tubbed and the fiberglass reworked." In fact, the car was so rough that Todd eventually gave up on his efforts to restore the Mustang. He listed it for sale on eBay.
Bob Leenstra is a Mustang collector from Kent, Washington. While scanning eBay for potential additions to his stable, he spotted Todd's ad for Sam Auxier's former '69 Mustang drag car. Recognizing Sam's name as a drag racer from the 1960s, Bob made some calls, eventually confirming the car's heritage through Sam. "One thing that Todd mentioned was that he would take a '69 Shelby GT500 in trade," says Bob. "I just happened to have a nice GT500 driver." Thirty minutes before the eBay auction ended, Bob and Todd made a deal.
Determined to complete the car's restoration, Bob endured "expensive" false starts at a couple of restoration and fabrication shops before handing the car over to R&M Performance in New East Market, Maryland. Machine work for the 427 was handled by Bill Coleman while Ladd's Porting took care of the cylinder head work-the same people who did the work for Sam in 1969. With Sam overseeing the details, the car was completed in less than 50 days, just in time to make its debut at the 2008 All-Ford Nationals.
Sam was there, of course, dressed in his matching red, white, and blue team shirt and standing proudly for photos with the Mustang he describes as "probably the most successful car I ever raced. It was definitely in more magazines."
He can add Mustang Monthly to the list.
Editor's note: Sam's Mustang will be on display at the All-Ford Nationals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, on June 6-7.