Despite the fact that traversing the quarter-mile on the back wheels isn’t exactly the quickest way to get down the track, Bob Riggle made a career of it. The HEMI Under Glass wheelstander, a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda is home to a supercharged 426 HEMI engine – stuffed into the area where the rear seat used to be in this iconic musclecar.
Back in the day, exhibition cars such as this were booked into drag racing shows all over the country, and Riggle’s machine is perhaps the best-known of the breed. Originally conceived in 1964 as an actual racecar by George Hurst and Ray Brock, the HEMI Under Glass had a severe problem – it couldn’t keep the front tires on the ground. After trying a number of different options to change the car’s handling, the team realized that the car was a huge hit with spectators, and from there, the decision was made to turn it into an exhibition car.
The cars were campaigned by Hurst Performance between 1964 and 1975, and piloted by Riggle, who returned in 1992 to exhibition racing with a replica or the 1968 Barracuda. If you’ve attended a Mopar car show in the past decade, it’s likely you’ve seen the HEMI Under Glass replica parked there for all to see.
After nearly four decades of wheelstands, Riggle finally put the car to rest in 2009. We found this awesome video that runs through the car’s history over the years, and has some great footage of some of the legendary wheelstanders of the 20th century.
Back in the 1960’s, exhibition cars like the HEMI Under Glass were booked in at drag racing events all over the country, and in the years since many others have been constructed, but the HEMI Under Glass is the most well-known of a dying breed.
In those days, track preparation and maintenance was not refined to the level it is today, and it was more important for race promoters to keep the massive crowds of the day entertained during the inevitable drag-race downtime. Today you’re lucky to see a jet car or three at any given event, and even those get the rank-and-file racers into a tizzy regarding track prep. Enjoy the video, and reminisce about days gone by.