By Geoff Stunkard
As I worked my way west with the 2015 Challenger R/T Scat Pack, the mother road beckoned stops. In Texas, I found a vintage-car graveyard, complete with Mopars from the era of tail fins and chrome excess; somewhat hauntingly, it reminded me I was following paths blazed long ago. Old Route 66 and US40 intersect and become one in some locations, and with a chill in the air, I stopped off at a legendary steakhouse near Amarillo. It actually tied into the trip, as a major drag racing event was held nearby during the heyday of Dick Landy’s career, and racers unknown reportedly absconded with a large wooden Indian from this establishment as a souvenir following one of those events. The sheriffs were not happy…
California was my destination, and after four days on the road, I arrived at the home of Richard Landy, Dick Landy’s son, and his wife Peggy. Richard and I had known each other since one of his father’s cars, a 1967 Dodge R/T, had been restored by a friend of ours. Richard took time out of his schedule to help begin the work of looking through Dick’s archives for the book I am writing on Landy’s Dodges. Even before his teenage years, Richard had traveled the nation during the late 1960s with the race car transporters, setting up displays and helping with race preparation.
In fact, the whole family had been deeply involved in the factory effort, though wife Gean was normally found holding down the fort at home with their three young children. Mrs. Landy was even featured in some of the Dodge brand’s promotions back in the day. Between her, daughter Danette Satenstein and Richard, we had the chance to talk about the past, being joined later in the week by younger son Robert (who had worked in the engine shop at DLI – Dick Landy Industries – for much of his early life). We looked through numerous albums of press clippings and photos, old 35-mm slides, and various other artifacts, getting a larger picture of Dick Landy as the racer and promoter. Just as importantly, the family was able to remember him as their father, as some of the material was of family trips and holidays.
Whether on a drag strip, a dirt bike or a dealership showroom, Landy was the consummate professional. Dodge had chosen this representative wisely, and unlike others, Landy had remained part of the Dodge racing legacy and close friends with people at Chrysler for years after his sponsorship had passed. My research effort was augmented by new friendships made in the Golden State.
The HEMI® engines of today owe their legacy to Dandy Dick Landy, who made so much history in Darts, Chargers and Challengers in the heyday of the muscle car, and I was living it with this tour.