Back in the 1960’s Chrysler Corporation race cars dominated the racing scene. The Chrysler racing program wemt on to unparalleled success with Chrysler-powered products winning national championships in five major stock car circuits and dominating the drag strips. In 1970 drivers for Plymouth and Dodge combined to win 77 percent of these races, winning 106 of 138 events. They won championships in NASCAR, USAC, ARCA and IMCA.
In ARCA, the main standard bearer for Mopar was Keokuk, Iowa’s Ramo Stott. Stott had competed in the old IMCA Stock Car series and had piled up a ton of wins, but always came up short in winning a championship. In 1963 and 1964 Stott and his Plymouth finished second to fellow Keokuk native Dick Hutcherson. From 1965 through 1968 he finished runner-up each year to fellow Mopar driver and fellow Keokuk resident Ernie Derr.
In 1969, Stott changed directions and decided to take his Plymouth and compete in ARCA. Stott didn’t get rolling until he finally won the Tennessee 500 at Bristol and May 18. He added seven more wins in ARCA but came up short in the chase for the championship losing out to future NASCAR Champion Benny Parsons. Even so, Mopar dominated the victory lane winning 22 of 28 ARCA events with the help of Iggy Katona, Bobby Watson and Andy Hampton all posting multiple wins in Dodges and Les Snow posting two wins in a Plymouth.
As was often the case with NASCAR and ARCA back in the day, the racing season for a certain year may actually start before the start of that calendar year. Such was the case with the 1970 ARCA season which actually was supposed to start on October 5, 1969 at Bristol but the race was rained out. On October 26 at Talladega they ran the Vulcan 500 with Jim Vandiver winning in a Dodge.
The next race was the annual ARCA 300 at Daytona International Speedway and that’s when Ramo Stott and his Plymouth took control of the series. Stott led 89 of the 120 laps averaging over 142 miles per hour to take the win with Bobby Watson in his Dodge coming home second.
Then on April 11, Stott averaged over 154 mph in winning the ARCA 125 at Talladega with Watson in his Dodge once again coming home second. A week later Stott won at the Tri-County Speedway in Ohio with the Dodge’s of Iggy Katona, Bobby Watson and Andy Hampton giving Mopar drivers the top four spots. Then following week at the Toledo Speedway Bobby Watson’s Dodge held off Ramo and his Plymouth for the win. A month later he was back in the Buckeye state winning at the Dayton Speedway with Watson and Katona finishing second and third.
May 30th at Lorain County Speedway in Ohio saw Andy Hampton bring his Dodge home first followed by the Dodge’s of Bobby Watson and Iggy Katona and the Plymouth of Ramo Stott. The next day at the Sharon Speedway still in Ohio Katona beat Stott in another short track event.
On June 14, it was back to the Super Speedways and Talladega where Stott put his Plymouth on the pole and then led 154 of 188 laps in the Vulcan 500 in beating out Katona for the win.
“I don’t know how much easier I could have had it.” said Stott in victory lane. “I don’t like to run below 6,000 rpm’s and if I’d have slowed down anymore, I would have been below that.”
July 3 it was back to the short tracks and the Berlin Speedway in Michigan where Stott won a 200-lap affair over Katona and Hampton. Hampton got the best of Katona and Stott the next day back at the Lorrain County Speedway.
On July 19, Katona at the Trumbull County Speedway in Ohio then six days later at the Silver Sands Speedway in Wisconsin it was Stott winning over Hampton and the next day at the Madison International Speedway still in Wisconsin Stott beat Hampton and Katona.
The August 7 race at Toledo was rained out and then something strange happened! After 14 straight Mopar wins, another brand won the International 500 at Louisville Fairgrounds in Kentucky on August 25. Four days later Mopar was back in victory lane at Flat Rock in Michigan with Andy Hampton. September 7 at Toledo it was Tom Bowsher and a Ford going to victory lane. Iggy Katona won six days later on the Salem High Banks in Indiana with the 1970 ARCA season coming to a close on September 20 at Tri-County with Ross Smith winning in a Chevy.
When the season came to an end Mopar had won 16 out of 19 races with Ramo Stott winning the championship in his Plymouth taking home eight wins. Andy Hampton and Iggy Katona had both posted three wins in Dodges with Bobby Watson and Jim Vandiver getting single wins in Dodges.
The 1971 season actually began on October 11, 1970 with Stott piloting his Plymouth to the win in the Salem 500. Two weeks late the legendary Red Farmer won at the Nashville Fairgrounds in a Ford. Then it was time for the ARCA 300 at Daytona with Stott setting on the pole with Katona outside in a Dodge. Stott lost an engine after 83 laps and Katona posted the win.
Back at Salem on April 4, Stott set fast time at 19.92 second and won the 100-lap event with Katona and Hampton chasing in their Dodges. After Tom Bowsher won the next two races at Tri-County and Toledo in a Ford, Ken Reiter won the 100 lapper at the Louisville Fairgrounds in Kentucky with Stott finishing second.
Stott rallied to win back-to-back races. First, at the Nashville Fairgrounds on May 15 in taking a 200-lap event with Andy Hampton following then eight days later at Tri-County by leading 465 of the 500 laps to dominate the event. The following weekend the series ran twice in Wisconsin with Tom Bowsher and his Ford winning both.
Stott then set fast time and led the entire 100 laps to win at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Bowsher then put the competition back in victory lane at Wisconsin International Raceway, Toledo and Sharon Speedway.
On August 7 Stott won at Baer Field in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Ken Reiter now in a Chevrolet won the 500 lap International 500 at the Louisville Fairgrounds by holding off Stott.
On August 21 at the Clarke County Fairgrounds a bit of a novelty happened as both Iggy Katona in a Dodge and Tom Bowsher in a Ford were declared joint winners of the 50- lap event with Stott trailing.
As the season came to a completion, Ramo Stott stamped his name on the championship trophy for the second year in a row, first by winning at Flat Rock, Michigan in a 100- lap race with Katona following and then by closely out the 1971 ARCA season by leading 87 of the 100 laps and winning at Toledo.
Ironically, the 1972 season kicked off at the Salem Speedway in Indiana on October 17 with Stott winning the 500-lap marathon. It would be the only Mopar win of the 1972 ARCA season. With Mopar withdrawing much of its support of racing going into the 1971 racing season Mopar’s dominating run had come to an end.
This story is dedicated to the memory of Ramo Stott, who we recently lost, but his accomplishments on the racetrack will live on for a long time to come.