When WIX Filters Kept Petty’s Hemis Triumphant

You are speaking of NASCAR royalty by referencing the name Richard Petty. While Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson have also secured seven NASCAR championships, Petty was the first, and to this day, he remains “The King.” Although Petty drove Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, Chevrolets, Buicks, and Fords, he is most associated with Mopars (Plymouths and later Dodges), in which he accumulated over 160 of his 200 wins and six of his seven championships.

Above Left: Richard Petty, his brother Maurice (engine builder), and cousin Dale Inman (crew chief) relied upon the WIX VIP treatment. The new oil filters for 1970 helped protect the Hemis built by Maurice, tuned by Dale, and raced by Richard. Above Right: WIX air filters and oil filters were a winning pair. WIX developed the first spin-on oil filter. The spin-on design became the standard oil filter used by all automotive manufacturers in the 1960s. 

Disappointed with Plymouth not making an aerodynamic car like Dodge for 1969, Petty left the Mopar camp and ran a Ford Torino Talladega to a second-place finish in the Grand National points series. For 1970, Plymouth wooed Petty back into the fold with the Plymouth Superbird. Even though the Superbird carried Petty to eight wins in 1970, he finished fourth in the Grand National season points. More extraordinary seasons awaited Petty, albeit not in the one-year-only Superbird.

Above: When Dodge introduced the aerodynamic Daytona in 1969, Petty wanted the same advantage with his Plymouths. When Plymouth declined, Petty went to Ford. In 1970, Plymouth stepped up and built the Superbird. Once Plymouth had an aero/wing car, Petty returned to the Mopar fold. (Photo –  Enthusiast Network – Getty Images)

The world famous 426 Hemi powered Petty’s Superbird, and his crew chief and cousin, Dale Inman, relied upon the all-new WIX VIP oil filter to capture the debris from the engine oil. As a result, Petty’s Plymouth received “The VIP Treatment,” as represented in the October 1970 Car Craft Magazine.

WIX Filters was founded in 1939 by Jack Wicks and Paul Crenshaw in an old, unused cotton mill in Gastonia, North Carolina. Cotton was the critical component for the removable filter socks WIX manufactured, and Gaston County, NC, produced more significant quantities of combed cotton yarn than anywhere else in the world.

In 1954, WIX developed the first spin-on oil filter, known by its ad campaign as the “Twist of the Wrist” oil filter. The thread-on design quickly became the industry standard that nearly all auto manufacturers used by the 1960s.

Above: Plymouth won eighteen races with the Superbird. Petty won eight races in his Superbird. Unfortunately, it was not enough to win the 1970 Grand National Championship. (Photo – Buddy Young)

In the early years, WIX had a handful of quality-built parts. However, today its extensive catalog consists of thousands of domestic and foreign engine air, fuel, cabin air, hydraulic, and automatic transmission filters, as well as a line of engine oil products. In addition, within the last decade, WIX has introduced a line of heavy-duty filters and moved to synthetic products with its high-performance XP filter line.

WIX products have found the winner’s circle in many forms of motorsports. Racers, crew chiefs, and mechanics rely on WIX Filters’ filtration technology to not only win races but also collect season championships.

Above: The NASCAR aero wars included Daytonas and Superbirds, both wing cars. By 1971, NASCAR had put restrictions on the aero cars by reducing the engine’s legal cubic inch displacement (CID) to 305 CID or by requiring them to carrying additional weight at the 7-liter engine displacement. (Photo All Out NASCAR)

Since 2016, WIX Filters have been manufactured by Mann+Hummel. Before the WIX Filters acquisition by Mann+Hummel, WIX already had eleven manufacturing facilities in eight countries. WIX manufactured over two hundred million oil filters annually and was known as one of the market’s most durable and efficient oil filters. Since the acquisition, the WIX Filter’s reputation for cost-effectiveness and quality has only grown.

If you are interested in a WIX filter for your Mopar, Mancini Racing has a filter for the slant sixes and the small-block and big-block engines. The race filter is a full-flow, enhanced cellulose spin-on design with a 61-micron rating and a flow rating of twenty-eight gallons per minute. Accordingly, to pick up a WIX filter fit for a king, check out Mancini Racing; your engine deserves the best.

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Chris Holley

Technical Contributor Chris has been a college professor for 25 years; at Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA. for the last 20 years. Chris instructs automotive classes in HVAC, electrical/electronics, and high-performance, including using a chassis dyno, flow benches, and various machining equipment. Recently, he added a vintage vehicle upholstery class to his teaching assignments. Chris owns a '67 Dart, a '75 Dart, a '06 Charger, and a '12 Cummins turbo diesel Ram, and he is a multi-time track champion (drag racing) with his '69 340 Dart, which he has owned for 34 years.

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