The world’s most famous drag racing exhibition car, the Hemi Under Glass, has a new driver. Mike Mantel will take over the driving honors from Mopar Hall of Fame inductee Bob Riggle. Riggle started working for George Hurst in 1964 in R&D and fabrication on projects such as the Hairy Olds and the Hemi Under Glass. He got behind the wheel of the Hemi Under Glass in 1966 after original test driver Wild Bill Shrewsberry left to pursue his own project – The LA Dart.
The Hemi Under Glass was one of the first race cars to ever be fitted with the powerful 426 Hemi. On the advice of Ray Brock it was originally to be raced in the factory experimental A/FX class – precursor to funny cars. Its mid-mounted engine gave it tremendous traction which led to full ¼ mile wheelstands. George Hurst, the consummate promoter, immediately saw the entertainment value in the car and a legend was born.
Riggle and the Hemi Under Glass recently appeared on Jay Leno’s Garage. Leno told his audience that the Hemi Under Glass is the king of the wheelstanders and one of his all time favorite cars. Leno went on to say that when he was growing up, Riggle was his hero and a ride in the car is “bucket list” for him.
A poor track surface and short shutdown area led to a roll-over crash with Leno in the Hemi Under Glass. Both Leno and Riggle were uninjured. To promote his show, Leno was a guest on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and showed footage of the crash. In addition, millions have viewed this on television and internet news outlets. Only weeks later Riggle made his final retirement wheels-up run at MATS in Las Vegas.
Riggle personally selected Mantel to take over the Hemi Under Glass, saying “he is a talented driver who will take the brand into the future and entertain generations to come.”
Mantel becomes only the third driver in the 51-year history of this American icon. He will soon pilot the ’68 Cuda that Riggle made his final run in and there is talk of an updated version of the Hemi Under Glass in the works using a Dodge Challenger Hellcat.