New four-part series on “Mr. 4 Speed” Herb McCandless is worth a binge

National Dragster

The pioneering eras of motorsport were radical times of innovation and creativity. In the ’70s, rulebooks hadn’t come close to fencing in some of the clever tricks that could be found underneath the machines driven by guys like Herb McCandless. The infamous Sox & Martin Mopars driven by McCandless evolved into the stuff of legend as Pro Stock developed into its own breed, with teams finding every advantage they could under the hood and between the lines. Much has been written about McCandless’ fierceness behind the wheel—the tamer of the stick-shift was so smooth that he earned the title of Mr. 4 Speed for keeping the new-fangled automatics at bay—but few works have been able to capture his legacy as well as Valeo Films’ new series.

The four-part documentary is binge-ready on YouTube, begging you to kill an evening in front of a screen this weekend. It dives into McCandless’ background not just as a driver, but also as the founder of the earliest speed-parts shops in SoCal. There aren’t a lot of guys left from this era, especially those who supported racers like young McCandless; hearing him wax poetic about the likes of Tom Hoover and Gale Mortimer, as someone who genuinely looked up to them, is truly priceless.

We look back at so many legends as the product of their time, but what’s often lost in retrospect is just how much risk was involved. Mortal limitations aside, whole families and fortunes were banked against an industry that was still growing with little reference point. Today’s template for successful speed shops and online stores was born from the uncertain stories of guys like McCandless, who bought up as many axles, housings, and gearsets as he could from manufacturers and hocked them out of a SoCal industrial park.

The NHRA also lent support to the Valeo Films project, licensing never-before-seen photos as the rolling voice of the NHRA’s Brian Lohnes narrates. Check it out and tell us in the Community what you think. Even if you lived the same years as McCandless, there’s a wealth untouched history unearthed worth talking about. Learn anything new?

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