Willis Ragsdale

July 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Where Are They Now?

Willis Ragsdale started drag racing in the late 50’s and was one of the true pioneers of the sport and a big part of what it has become today. He used all types of engines through the years including small block Chevy twice, Hemi, and small block Ford. He competed against many of the sport’s legends throughout his career ranging from Don Nicholson to Lee Shepherd to current Pro Stock drivers like Mike Edwards and Larry Morgan. He won several divisional and national eliminator titles in both NHRA and AHRA, including the U.S. Nationals. He set several national class records in Modified and Competition Eliminator and held the NHRA national record in his class when he retired.

He retired from drag racing in late 1987 after 30 years in the sport. In the early 90’s he wanted to have something to tinker with so he bought a 1970 Mach I Mustang. After a few years he decided to build a first class 1937 3-window Ford Coupe street rod. He sold the Mach I to his son and began searching the country for a ’37 Coupe. During this time, he also retired from the petroleum company where he worked for over 30 years. This gave him more time to take on his new project. After several cross-country searches he found a good body and began the build. Last year, he finished the ten year build and is very proud of the results. The coupe features a 427 cubic inch small block Ford that is a unique combination of a Windsor block and Cleveland heads, or “Clevor”. The car also showcases handmade polished stainless steel headers, exhaust tubing, suspension, brackets, and bumpers. It also features a 4-link rear suspension, independent strut front suspension, and disc brakes all around. Willis Ragsdale has driven the car to several car rallies and shows and has received several awards and numerous compliments. He and his wife, Helen, are in their late 70’s and in good health. They continue to live in Pasadena, TX where they have been since 1957.

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