NHRA Motorsport Museum

Tommy Grove's Melrose Missile S/SA '64 Plymouth

Heads-up Super Stock competition between the factory-backed Chrysler and Ford entries was at its peak in 1964, and Tommy Grove, of Oakland, Calif., scored one of the biggest wins of the year by driving the Melrose Missile S/SA '63 Plymouth to a Stock eliminator triumph at the Winternationals. Powered by a Mopar 426 wedge, Grove's entry outlasted a field that included the most potent doorslammer entries that Detroit had produced to date, including the Ford 427 Fairlane Thunderbolts.

(© 1999 NHRA Photographic Services)
Using a Chrysler Torqueflite automatic transmission to attain a level of consistency not within reach of the manual stick-shift Fords, Grove marched his way through the field with consistent 11.6-second clockings. In the semi's, he faced fellow Mopar campaigner Dick Landy's Dodge and prevailed, 11.64 to 11.94, then won the final over Doug Lovegrove's red-lighting '64 Plymouth, 11.63 to 11.66.

Grove, like other Chrysler-backed drivers, took delivery of a 426 Hemi engine later that spring and continued to campaign the Melrose Missile until 1965, when he switched to a Ford. Cecil Yother took over the Missile that year, running the new '65 entry as an altered-wheelbase Funny Car.

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