Winternationals Memorable Moment No. 2: ‘Grumpy’ Rules First Pro Stock Go (1970)

With the increase in national events from four to seven to create the Super Season, anticipation had reached unprecedented heights for the 1970 Winternationals, a fever stoked by the debut of the newly created Pro Stock class.

The Mopar teams had worked feverishly during the off-season to prepare the ’70 Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda entries for the elite factory drivers, and the remaining Mopar competitors showed up with their equally potent reworked ’68 Darts and Barracudas. The Ford factory campaigners arrived with Mustangs, Mavericks, and Mercury Cougars, and the underdog independent Chevy contingent consisted primarily of ’68 and ’69 Camaros.

The Sox & Martin team, which had scored three Super Stock victories at four events in 1969, was heavily favored entering the event and proved those touts accurate by qualifying No. 1 with a 10.006, easily outperforming the No. 2 qualifier, Chevy stalwart Bill Jenkins, who posted a 10.088 at the wheel of the same big-block-powered Grumpy’s Toy IV ’68 Camaro that he had raced in Super Stock.

Jenkins, though, showed the mastery of the class that would reward him well throughout the decade and opened Sunday’s first round with a 9.98, low e.t. of the meet, then roared through the field to face Ronnie Sox in the final.

Jenkins was the only driver to dip into the nines, wheeling to three sub-10-second runs in eliminations. He sandwiched a pair of 9.98s around an early-shutoff 10.26 in respective victories against Bill Hielscher, Mike Fons, and a red-lighting Dick Landy. In the final, Jenkins left first and never looked back, running 9.99, 139.53 (top speed of the meet) against Sox’s 10.12.