Dodge Super Stock Legend Still Wins After Five Decades!

When Bob Marshall began competing in Super Stock at his first NHRA race in the early 1970s, he was racing at the same events in which Mopar®’s heavy-hitters like Sox and Martin, Dick Landy, Don Grotheer, Arlen Vanke and other HEMI® engine-powered door-slammer Pro contenders where attacking the quarter-mile. Like the Pro teams, Bob was also in search of low ETs and championship victories. He was just one of many diehard Mopar Sportsman Racers during this era, but he was doing his thing in his fleet of trusty 1965 Dodge Coronet HEMI Super Stockers for the over 50 years that he’s been drag racing. Now that Bob is 81 years old, he’s not slowing down or parking his trusty machine that has earned him numerous NHRA and IHRA Championships and Super Stock class wins over the past five decades. 

Growing up near Findley, Ohio, Bob was always into fast cars, even if he had to create some odd combinations from various bodies and engines at his disposal. “When I was in high school around 1962, I had a 1955 Ford Crown Victoria that I put a Ford 406 cubic-inch big block engine with a Tri-Power carb set up and I terrorized the streets in my hometown. Wanted to be a serious drag and legit drag racer, and I realized the 406 did not have enough horsepower and was not competitive. A few years later, around 1965 or ’66, I drove a HEMI Dodge Coronet Super Stocker that was owned by my friend Ray Christian and was impressed by how it ran. I later installed a 426 HEMI in my old Crown Victoria, but eventually sold it and bought my first 1965 HEMI Coronet Super Stock from a pair of racers I knew, Coleman and Jackson, and that’s how I got hooked on this great Mopar race package,” said Bob. 

After going to college for an accounting degree and even playing semi-pro football in a league in Columbus, Ohio, it wasn’t until the late 1960s that Bob got serious about drag racing. Back in the “Golden Era” of drag racing, it was very common for racers and/or car owners to paint and letter up their cars to garner even more attention from the fans in the stands. Bob had the inspiration for “Dodge Material” and has had that painted on the side of every HEMI Dodge Coronet he has ever raced. Maybe it was a subliminal thought he had as “Dodge Material” was the brand’s advertising tagline line from 1970 to around 1971. But for Bob, the name on the car wasn’t as important as making a killer combination for a class dominated by other HEMI engine-powered machines. Eventually, he would stick his toe in the big league of NHRA Super Stock racing that if you don’t win your specific class, you don’t get invited to the big dance during Sunday’s eliminations. This required continuous updates and refinements to his HEMI Coronet Super Stocker and as the 1960s rolled into the 1970s, Bob was all in for making his Dodge faster and super competitive. Running in the SS/BA category within Super Stock, it was populated with many 1964 and 1965 Dodge and Plymouth Super Stock Race HEMI Package Cars. The heads-up competition among these Mopar racers was cutthroat, dog-eat-dog and no quarter was given when these HEMI B-body Behemoths lined up. “For many years, Steve Bagwell was my biggest rival and I went at it for Super Stock B-Automatic class honors many times. He was a tough competitor and usually we were in the class finals as we always ran very close to each other. He was a fierce competitor, he won some and I won some,” noted Marshall. “There were other good racers in Super Stock B-Automatic such as Jerry Caro and Lloyd Wofford and they were all tough.” With over 45 class trophies sitting in Bob’s office and family room, we’d say he came out ahead. 

While many Sportsman racers switch cars and classes throughout their career and try different combinations, Bob always ran the same package, a 1965 Dodge HEMI Coronet. He wasn’t tempted to move to a different class in Super Stock and maybe run a 1968 HEMI Dart or Barracuda. “I had so many parts for the Coronet and knowledge on how to make the car work well, I just ran the same basic package for decades. I didn’t feel the need to change for the sake of changing. I also received some parts support from Direct Connection back then, so I just kept refining my combination,” commented Bob. His formula seems to have worked as along with the 45 or so SS/BA class wins, he’s been victorious at numerous NHRA and IHRA National and Division races and has had the help of Paul Poptenhauger and Leonard Wyche over the years. Bob has told us that’s owned no less than five 1965 Dodge Coronet Super Stockers and his current ride is not an original A990 HEMI Package Car as constant rule updates require more modifications to the chassis and suspension and Bob doesn’t want to carve up an original car due to their value and rarity. 

Over these past decades, Bob has raised a family while successfully owning many businesses, including gas stations. He’s also built a thriving company, Eastland Towing. They operate a fleet of wreckers and cranes in the Columbus area that help stranded motorists and work with both the local law enforcement and Ohio State Police in recovering damaged and wrecked vehicles and even big trucks from accident scenes. A few years back, Bob’s collection of “Dodge Material” racecars included a pair of 1973 Dart Sports powered by small blocks but his heart was always with his trusty 1965 Coronet HEMI Super Stocker. “Drag racers are a different breed of people, and I enjoy their company. You’ll never get rich racing, but you are with good people,” commented Bob. With the decades he’s been campaigning his “Dodge Material” HEMI Super Stock Coronet, and being an octogenarian, don’t look for Bob to park his car soon, and why would he? He just won Super Stock defeating drivers more than half his age at last month’s World of Mopar Car Show and Drag Race at Norwalk Raceway Park. “Nowadays, I generally race the Buckeye Stock/Super Stock Circuit which is about six to seven races a season along with some NHRA National Open events and Divisional Points Races. I like to race more but work is has been busy,” noted Bob. 

To what does Bob attribute his never-ending quest to continue racing a badass HEMI Super Stock Dodge? “Well, I can still run a 100-yard dash in ten seconds,” he laughs. “But my wife Brenda has been my biggest supporter on my racing endeavors and still supports my drag racing passion.” With his family’s encouragement and support, Bob won’t be retiring from racing anytime soon. 

Here are some cool pics of Bob’s iconic “Dodge Material” HEMI Coronet Super Stocker!