By 1971 the Aero Wars that began in 1969 were over. The first showing of the cars was 50 years ago in Daytona with the arrival of the Ford Talladega and Dodge Charger 500. The battle grew wilder and wilder all year with the addition of the Ford Boss 429 engine and the Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II. But it was not until the arrival of the 1969 Dodge Daytona at Talladega Supers Speedway that same season really erupted into a war.
The battles continued until the end of 1969. Then, in 1970 Ford withdrew from racing and Plymouth added the Superbird to the Chrysler arsenal. The speeds continued to rise and the Aero Wars were beginning to change the direction NASCAR was headed and the France family did not like it.
For 1971 new rules were established regarding the Aero Cars and the Super Speedways. For the first time. restrictor plates were mandated at the high speed Super Speedways. If you wanted to run one of those funny looking extremely fast aero cars from the Ford or Chrysler factories it had to be powered by a small 305 cubic inch v8! Improved aerodynamics can compensated for lesser horsepower but not to that extent. The result was that the aero cars became dinosaurs.
However, in 1971 our Ford and Mercury drivers found them selves driving three year old cars! Back in those days NASCAR had a rule that no “stock car” could be raced for more than three years. That was to ensure that the factories, race teams and drivers had the newest models of the cars on the track. NASCAR wanted the newest models racing in their series not a bunch of old jalopies. Because the 1969 regular body, non-aero cars, were still more aerodynamic than the newest 1971 Ford and Mercury products they were still the choice of the Blue Oval teams. Dodge and Plymouth were running their newest bodies and who cares what Chevy was running.
Without factory support and driving three year old cars our Ford and Mercury heroes were able to win 14 races (actually 15, but one win was a Mustang) out of the season’s 48 races. It should be noted that two of those wins were at Talladega by Bobby Allison in a Mercury. A Chevy and a Camaro each won one race and the remainder were split between Dodge and Plymouth.
The video included in this post shows some good photos of AJ Foyt in the Wood Brothers #21 Mercury.