Mr 4 Speed…Re-Visited!

I wrote and  posted this article on my old E-zine in 2005…….thought it would be good to re-visit. (Your Editor – Mal)

Ronny Sox was and is universally regarded as the best “worker” of a 4 speed box in Drag Racing over two decades.

In a world full of TF 727’s, Turbo 350’s, Shift kits and Stall converters Ronny “rowed” his way to fame with Team Manager Buddy Martins help. 

 His performances in the original Super Stock category showed just how good factory built Mopars could run.

It was Ron who pushed a FACTORY 69 RoadRunner 6 pack to the awesome time of 12.94 ….not bad for Fabric slicks and a crash helmet!!


ln 1996 I was lucky enough to make contact with the owner of the original S&M Duster, Fred Ristagno ….(HemiFred on Moparts, Yellow Bullet and other forums)  , who kept contact with Ronnie on a semi regular basis, and still runs the S&M Duster..

 I asked Fred if he would kindly ask Ron a few questions. – (Ron was pretty ill by now and his wife answered most correspondence from “outsiders” – Fred had his ear –  Mal. )

 Some of those questions might have been better received by Chief mechanic Dave Christie……but there is some VERY valuable information to be had from the two hardened drag racers, Ron and Fred.

 1. What shifting technique did Ronny use, and was it the same as most stick drivers back then? I refer to the clutch set up and whether he crash changed or used the clutch…?

Ron: The way I was told to set up my clutch by the factory was as follows: Insert a .060 feeler gauge between the flywheel and disc as you have someone press down on the clutch pedal.  That is the maximum distance you allow them to separate.

Our gears were liberty cut…no good for the street… but we weren’t paying for the gearboxes!

 In order to control that amount you weld an adjustable stop to the pedal keeping it’s distance from the floor where desired.

Too much separation is wasted motion and also unnecessary wear on parts.  The pedal travel was minimal at best .

2. What would he recommend as a good sound rear-end setup for a street driven A Body?

 Fred:  Ronnie was the driver and had little on nothing to do with the cars mechanically.  I am sure he would defer to Dave Cristy or Herb on that one.

 IMHO…For a street driven car without big slicks……….. an 8 3/4 would be fine.

3. In the film, “Shut Down King” (A short film made to promote the new “Street Hemi”)…what was the main reason he was able to better the times run by the “amateurs” by .6 – 1 full second….?

Fred – We laughed about that not long ago. The other guys just plain could not drive!!!.

4. Did he run a Ford 9” or a MOPAR 8 ¾ diff in the Duster ? 

 Fred: All Sox cars used 8 3/4 until the Dana was introduced. Then only a Dana would be found under their cars. In late 72 they switched to a magnesium Dana like I have in the car now.

5. If there was one modification he would make to a Nu process..what would it be?

Ron: A quality shifter and proper set up will bring the best results. 

 Too many of the problems and source of damaged parts come from lack of a decent shifter…the gearboxes themselves were stronger than anyone suspected.

6. Lastly, what motor did he and yourself see as the 426 Hemi’s biggest competitor from 67-70?….

 Ron: Only the big block Chevy’s of Bill Jenkins came close in super stock. 

In the early 65-67 cars shotgun Fords made some decent competition.  It was Ford’s version of a Hemi.

Ford also used a single overhead cam a/ka sohc (Cammer) for a bit.

 Shotguns are still being used today as the primary motor in IHRA mountain motor pro stock class


Please thank Ron and thanks for your trouble Fred…




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