The late ’70s was a time of weird facial hair, disco and sky-high gas prices. It was also the time of Bruce Springsteen songs and a golden age for street racing. Back in those days, ’60s musclecars were cheap and they were the only cars racing in the streets. In 1979, Dieter Scharschmidt was a man living a double life, he worked as a truck Mechanic in Ontario by day and lived as a street racer when the sun went down. In 1971 he purchased a 1970 Mercury Cougar Eliminator drag car for $1,200; this car was part of Ford of Canada’s drag racing team in 1970. It was powered by a built 351C that produced over 425HP and was tied to a 4 speed manual.
It was with this Cougar that Scharschmidt become a street racing legend on the back roads of Ontario. He raced and beat everything from 454 Chevelles to Hemi Cudas – no matter what came his way he would always shut them down. Much like John Milner, racers from all over Canada came to challenge him, only to have their doors blown off.
One of his races from 1979 was captured on video: a hopped up Camaro came to challenge the infamous Cougar. They headed to an empty strip of back country road so they could race. Scharschmidt arrived at the scene in his Cougar with street tires, but he swapped them for a set of slicks.
The Camaro already had slicks on the rear, and he began to do a smoky burnout out to try and intimidate Scharschmidt. The Cougar did his burnout and both cars staged.
After some engine revving, the arms were dropped and the cars launched with their front wheels in the air. The drivers pushed their throttles into the firewall as they raced down the road. The race started out neck and neck but Scharschmidt was able to take the lead and go home victorious.
He would spend the next few years winning more races, the only recorded loss was against another Camaro SS which he insists was because of a false start. Sadly, he sold his beloved Cougar in 1983 after a divorce. He would see his old car 23 years later at the 2006 Speedorama in Toronto where it was on display with other cars from the 1970 Ford Racing Team. Have you ever sold a car you loved, only to see it show up somewhere at a later time? Tell us about it below.