There was a reason that most every drag racing fan wanted a Lee Edwards t-shirt in the 1970s – he was the driver to beat. Edwards dominated the class with an iron fist in the formative years of the mountain motor program.
Edwards was considered one of the more prolific runners in those formative days of the movement. He earned a living Pro Stock racing under both the NHRA and IHRA banners throughout the 1970s.
“It suited me well because I already had some big motors,” Edwards said. “I just kind of fell into running the new style. Most of us had those big motors sitting around for match races and it played right into our hands.”
The new format fell into Edwards’ hands more than any other driver. He claimed the first two world championships in convincing fashion, winning the 1977 title by 905 points and following up the next year winning by a whopping 3,111 points.
Edwards is credited with 17 career finals, fourteen of which came after the mountain motors were implemented. He only ran three years in the mountain motor competition.
Edwards was all about having a large displacement engine and he said it didn’t matter one arrived at that point.
Edwards said his initial engine was a 490-incher but that was only a stepping-stone. Within two years the average size had grown to 570-inches and was heading well into the upper 600-inch range, thanks to the implementation the Rodeck block, and later a new version from the P&S foundry.
In that first year of competition, the majority of the engines were nothing more than the standard factory casts. There were creative ways to get more cubic inches, though, and guys like Edwards found a way to get them.
The universal theme for the Mountain Motor Pro Stock division was a common weight with unlimited engine size, but there were some variations in weight depending on the block used.
“There was nothing out there to buy, we had to make it all,” Edwards said. “We used stock blocks and made the best out of what we had to work with. Things got pretty innovative. But I didn’t mess around. I just made them as big as I could make them. That was one of the keys to my success.”
Edwards said he took advantage of a rule that enabled teams to run at 2,350 if a racer used the car-height block. The option was there to run at 2,400 pounds if they used a truck-height block.
“One of my tricks is that I would take a car-height block and stuff a big crankshaft in it,” Edwards said. “I’d put a bunch of head gaskets on it and get by at 2,350 pounds. I had to have a big motor.”