Owner returns in style with 1964 Dodge

By Alastair BakerNews EditorJerry McCarthy got the surprise of his life prior to the drag races at the 9th Annual Cruisen Red Lodge Car Show recently when his sons handed him the keys and registration to an original 1964 Dodge 440.“They said ‘go and take it down the drag strip’ and I said ‘you don’t need a registration for that’ and they said ‘you do if it’s yours.’ I was blindsided and didn’t know what to say,” recalled McCarthy.

On top of this, McCarthy’s gleaming white vehicle also won the People’s Choice Award.

The story starts back in 2014 when a friend of the family, Robert Carlson, had a '64 Dodge stored in a Quonset hut on a farm in Broadview for 30 years.“He kept talking about putting it together and he finally took it to my son Dan who said he would put it together,” said McCarthy.

At this juncture another of McCarthy’s sons, Scott, returned home and realized it was exactly the make and model of the vehicle that McCarthy drove when he took part in street drag races in Greybull, Wyoming, and Red Lodge in the 1960s and 1970s.

Scott bought the car from Carlson and with his other siblings, Dan, Vivian (nee Markham) and Joe, they fixed the vehicle up to present race standards. Over a two and half year period McCarthy was aware of the vehicle and his children working on it but had no idea they were doing this for him.

“I saw the car but I had no idea, and I can’t afford a car like that,” he laughed. “The crazy part, and you have to know my kids, they have a warped sense of humor, so when ever they’d have me come out to have a look at it they’d ask ‘You remember how these cars work?’ ‘How did they do this?’ and ‘How did they do that?’ I never, ever, thought they were doing it for me.”

The car was worked on extensively as it had no engine or transmission.

“Carlson is a well known and respected racer and he built the motor. They had the transmission done,” said McCarthy. The children even installed a special automatic so the vehicle can start in any gear.

“It’s specially modified for racing to make it stronger,” said McCarthy. The team even included a roll bar because of changing safety measures that are much different from McCarthy’s era.

‘There were less accidents back then but the cars weren’t as fast as today,” he said. “My original Dodge went 89 MPH in a quarter mile but this one goes 112 MPH.”

When McCarthy took to the drag strip at Cruisen Red Lodge it was the first time he had raced in 35 years.

“My son Scott wasn’t even born that last time,” he said. McCarthy’s racing career ran from 1962 until 1980. After that he only occasionally went to see a race

On receiving the gift, McCarthy recalled his son Scott thanking him for all the time he put into their lives when he was raising them and helping them out even after putting in a long day at work.

“'You were never too tired, and so this is our chance to give back to you said Scott’, and I was speechless,” said McCarthy.

“In this day and age when so many kids are being heartbreaks to their parents, I tell people about this and I’ve had 100’s of people in the last year say, ‘It’s just nice to hear a feel good story.’ It’s way beyond anything I could ever imagine,” said McCarthy.

In a twist of irony, the original owner of the car McCarthy was given comes from Red Lodge. The owner remains unknown. A further twist is that Carlson worked on McCarthy’s original car and started his drag racing career in Red Lodge using McCarthy’s Dodge in 1965.

For McCarthy it’s a dream reborn. He sold the original car and had three different ones afterward but always maintained “a special spot in my heart for that car,” he said.

“Dan had the idea to make it retro, like it was in 1964 because it’s what I loved about it, and that’s why it won the award,” said McCarthy. “The car was definitely the epitome of nostalgia.”

“That’s what they wanted me to do, race again. It’s the only hobby I’ve every enjoyed. I just loved racing,” said McCarthy.

McCarthy has returned to the track, recently racing in Acton.

Upcoming Events

  • Saturday, January 20, 2018 - 8:00am
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.
  • Saturday, January 20, 2018 - 10:00am
    An Overeaters Anonymous group will meet every Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Grace Fellowship Church, Absarokee.
  • Monday, January 22, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 8:00am
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.
  • Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - 9:30am
    Open 2nd and 4th Wednesday 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. 206 N ‘D’ Street. More info 662-1060.