J's Trans Am Car History 1968-1971
Between 1968 and 1970, Ed Hinchliff and Steve Ross entered at least eight Trans-Am races in their 1968 Ford Mustang—with five finishes. Here is their story.
In the beginning, Ed Hinchliff received sponsorship support from his local Lion’s Club and joined the SCCA. Starting with a 1968 Mustang sedan with American racing wheels, side pipes, fender flares, quarter panels, parking lamps and drilled out competition rear drums, he built the car for competition. Some of the changes he made included fender work for tire clearance, deck lid fuel filler cap, windshield and unique rear window retaining straps under the trim and the addition of Sebring lights on the doors to illuminate the car number during NASCAR night races..
At the Watkins Glen, New York Trans-Am race on August 11, 1968, Ed started 25th out of 31 starters in the over 2L big-bore class race. He finished eighth. The race was later reported by Autoweek in its August 31, 1968 edition. As a sidebar, the Woodstock Festival featuring rock’s hippie apex, was held one year later at the same site.
After the finish, Ed, his brother and teammates in their uniform orange shirts and NASCAR white slacks, celebrated his eight place finish. This was Ed’s first Trans-Am race!
Stock Car Racing magazine in its October, 1968 issue later covered the Paul Revere 250 mile race. Ed Hinchliff drove the NASCAR GT as his primary vehicle during 1968 and 1969.
The cover of the 1969 Michigan Trans-Am program featured a cover shot from Daytona. On Pages 42 & 42, a recap of the 1968 season was included—along with photos of Ed in the same infield corner as the lead photo. Note the large fender flares in his ’68 coupe!.
A famous shot from the same Daytona shows Ed leading Rusty Jowett and Peter Gregg through the infield.
Here, Ed Hinchliff heads down the grid prior to the start of the 1969 Citrus 250 NASCAR race. Note the large 1969 flares that Ed used to cover what appears to be 7.00 and 8.00 series tires. Ed was one of the earliest competitors to run the larger flares. He spoke warmly about his conversations with friend Bill Maier about those fender flares.
A shot from the Citrus 250 shows Ed on the high banks of Daytona for this NASCAR Gran American season opening race. He’s wearing the Silver Mink paint scheme with black hood.
During a work-up A-Sedan National race the weekend prior to the 1969 Wolverine Trans-Am at Michigan Speedway, Ed’s Tunnel Port was running better than it ever had. Unfortunately, the vehicle crashed. This forced Ed to miss the start of the Michigan race in front of his Ypsilanti hometown fans. This photo shows body damage from the infield guard rail. Note the number change to #6.
This grid sheet for the 1969 Wolverine Trans-Am race lists Ed entered as #46. Sadly, due to the crash the week before during work-ups, he was unable to qualify.
The Hinchliff/Mustang was repaired. It was then used for the filming of “Ford Flat Out,” a documentary on Trans-Am racing. This photo shows the completed repairs on the 1968 from the garage Ed shared with Warren Tope.
The second Hinchliff car—a Grabber Blue Boss 302—sits next to the ’68 Mustang in its uncompleted state. The Grabber was later owned by Ross Meyers and driven by Terry Brookheimer.
Here, Steve Ross, the ’68 Mustang’s new owner, thunders down the hill at Bridgehampton in this Autoweek July 11, 1970 photo.
In 1971, the Hinchliff/Ross Mustang was sold and campaigned in the Mexico City FIA Road Races through the early ‘70s. Later, Mark Gillette of Dallas, TX brought the Mustang back to America. The vehicle was subsequently sold three times prior to the purchase and restoration by J. Bittle.
Today, J. drives this storied Mustang in vintage racing venues throughout Southern California.
It still rocks tracks everywhere and is ‘just bad ass.’