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Austin Brothers

One of the formidable NHRA Stock and Super/Stock teams in the 1960’s and into the late 1970’s was the team of brothers, Willie “Duke”, and Arthur “Sugar” Austin of Lansing, along with longtime crew member, Tony Carnegie. Always carrying the banner of racing Chrysler products, their ’63 Plymouth Savoy, which saw duty first as a Stock Eliminator car, then moved on to Super/Stock, was always a force to reckoned with, first with Duke as the primary driver, then younger brother Art taking over as driver at a point in 1970.
At that time, older brother Duke assumed the role of expert crew chief for the team. One of their great early accomplishments was to win the Stock Eliminator title at the 1970 Popular Hot Rodding Magazine Championships at Martin, MI. During that event’s years at Martin, beginning in 1969, it was regarded by most to be like an “extra NHRA National Event”, drawing cars from much of the nation and Canada. At the 1970 event, Art Austin after defeating 1990 MMSHOF Inductee Dave Boertman in the first round, successfully went through round after round before besting 1967 U.S. NHRA Nationals Stock Champ and 2000 Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee Ben Wenzel in the final round to cinch the Stock title.
Also in 1970, Art won the C/SA class title at the NHRA SummerNationals at Englishtown, N.J., defeating New Jersey legend Jerry Stein in the class final. In the August 1971 issue of New York City’s Black Sports Magazine, the team had a feature 5- page article published about their drag racing efforts. Art Austin explained that the magazine had intended at the time, to do a major story on NASCAR Legend, Wendell Scott, but Scott was not available due to some scheduling conflicts. So, the Austin team was chosen to be featured instead.
Also in 1971, Art Austin wheeled the ’63 Plymouth to an individual B/SA class title at the NHRA SpringNationals competed at Dallas, Texas. At the 1972 NHRA U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis Raceway Park, Art Austin won the SS/DA class title in what was described a “Class run-off marathon”, still talked about today. There were over 40 cars in just that one single class alone, unheard of today! Within a “sea of 427 Camaros, 426 Street-Hemi Plymouths and Dodges, 427 Fords, etc.”, two 426 Wedge engine Chrysler product
cars met in the final of this exhausting marathon, Art Austin in their ’63 Plymouth, and Dave Edwards of the Dayton, Ohio area in his ’63 Dodge with the same engine combination. Art came out on top of this grueling contest.
Over the years, the Austins mostly used engines built by famed engine guru, 2018 MMSHOF Inductee Ron Mancini, and also utilized engines from Tom Tignanelli. At a later point, Art Austin drove a ’64 Dodge Super/Stock owned by Tom Cunningham which was sponsored by both Gratiot Auto Supply and Mancini Racing. More success was attained with this car. Sadly, Duke Austin passed away in November of 1999. Art Austin, as of the 2022 submittal of this bio, still resides in Lansing, and occasionally runs a beautiful ’67 Plymouth 440 ‘Cuda in the ET Brackets. Tony Carnegie resides in White Cloud, MI.