Ray Caldwell's Autodynamics Corp was based in Marblehead, MA. An engineer by training, Caldwell had already successfully raced a car of his own design on the new Formula Vee series when he decided to form Autodynamics in 1964. Between 1964 and 1970, Autodynamics designed and built 1,400 race cars, including Formula Vees, Formula Fords, Super Vees, Chevy-powered Formula Cars, street roadsters, and additional Can-Am cars. Autodynamics cars won eight national championships. As a driver, Caldwell won the first Formula Vee National Championship and was named Sports Car Club of America Rookie Driver of the Year in 1964.
Most of these cars were Formula Vees, but 103 were Formula Fords. The last Formula Vee built by Caldwell was the D-13 and that series started in 1970. In 1972 Autodynamics introduced the new DL-15 FF, but no "real ones"were ever built as the firm was forced to close its doors.
It appears that Ray Caldwell numbered his cars consecutively regardless of type i.e. Vee, SuperVee or Ford. The "70" at the beginning of the Serial No. indicates the Year in which the car was to be first raced. In other words, all car serial numbers beginning with "70" were manufactured in 1969 and were to be " 1970" Models. The important thing for Vintage racing is that those cars were manufactured in 1969, not 1970, since some Vintage Race Groups in the USA will not accept cars manufactured after 1969. Interestingly my Deserter GS was numbered 69010 but not delivered until mid 1970.
Autodynamics took pride in applying the latest in professional European formula racing technology to its Ford and Super Vee designs for amateur racers. These space-framed single seaters were strong, reliable, light and fast as any design available from any racing manufacturer in the world. The D-9 and D-13 won SCCA National Championships right out of the box first year out. The firm scrutinized every other competing make and upgraded the cars to include every new idea they believed could make them quicker, stronger or faster.
Master Fabricator Bruno Milani used to assemble the mild steel chassis using low temperature brazing rod and other employees marveled at the textbook perfection of every weld he made every day on every job. Whether he was joining familiar fish-mouthed tubes on a production formula car chassis or heli-arcing a one-of-a-kind " basket-of-snakes" exhaust for a Can-Am, Trans-Am, or Formula A car for the professional team, Bruno executed each and every weld perfectly. Though the shop employed as many a several dozen experienced and talented craftsmen from all corners of the racing universe at various times, everyone to a man was always impressed with Bruno's welding. Caldwell used to say that "Bruno could weld bananas to glass."
That confidence in each other's skills permeated the atmosphere at Autodynamics. Skip Barber ran the metal shop with an eye for fit and finish. Bill Woodhead designed and fabricated elegantly simple mechanical solutions so quickly that you barely had time to comprehend what he was doing before he finished a prototype. Bob Fletcher knew every gadget on every race car from Formula One cars to NASCAR sedans. He quickly figured out where to buy the latest "trick" pieces and sold them with authority to our customers while they still commanded a premium. Ray Stonkus had a famous toolbox nearly filled with hammers. He could straighten out the body of our Dodge Trans-Am Team car after a wreck and paint it overnight such that "You could not tell from the stands." Chief Engineer Del Trott seemed to know a mathematical formula that would help to answer any virtually racing question you could pose. Carroll Smith quite literally wrote the book on track tuning racing cars, Tune to Win, and another on screwing them together so that they stayed together, Prepare to Win. He was world class and a fine teacher to all of us younger crew members.
Autodynamics built factory backed Dodge Challenger T/A for the 1970 SCCA trans am series. The series was at it's hey day and landing this contract was a boon to autodynamics. This was all out factory war between Detroit's big 4.
In 1971, Detroit's big three withdrew suddenly their open support of motor racing. The political atmosphere had changed and the horsepower race that bred the 60s muscle and pony cars was suddenly over. Dodge canceled Autodynamics contract. Autodynamics had all expected to run the Dodge Challenger factory Trans-Am Team for at least two more years. The company eventually filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy and tried to reorganize and build electric commuter vehicles. It was visionary, but far too early for the market and the state of available technology. Racing took a back seat to the electric car development and the few racers who were not laid off soon grew disgruntled. People quit weekly. Over the next two years, Autodynamics withered and died.
SCCA Can-Am Autodynamics D7
SCCA Formula Ford Autodynamics D9 SCCA Formula 5000 Autodynamics D8 SCCA Trans-Am Autodynamics Dodge Challenger T/A ^ back
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SCCA Formula Ford Autodynamics D9
SCCA Formula 5000 Autodynamics D8
SCCA Trans-Am Autodynamics Dodge Challenger T/A
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