Roger Guzman and his brilliant succession of funny cars named “Assassination” became household names to America’s drag racing fans during Guzman’s 26-year career that spanned four decades. In a world where drivers are the stars, no one was better known among spectators, or more respected by competitors, than car owner and engine builder, Guzman.
Guzman campaigned 19 incarnations of Assassination race cars, beginning in 1965 with a BB/Modified ’61 Corvette co-driven by Art Ward, and ending in 1984 with a new Chevy Citation AA/Funny Car also piloted by Ward. In between, Guzman’s funny car creations vaulted two other Colorado drivers to national prominence, John Dekker (1969 – 1974) and Rob Williams (1977 – 1983). Ward drove Assassination quarter-milers from 1965 – 1968 and 1975 to 1976 before the fabled duo’s final appearance in 1984.
Over the years, Assassination funny cars collected nine NHRA trophies for “Best Appearing Car,” and Guzman’s smartly uniformed, all-volunteer team earned 16 “Best Appearing Crew” awards. Guzman was named NHRA’s “Person of the Year” in 1979. Four times he was chosen the NHRA Division 5 “Top Professional Mechanic.” Seven times the “Funny Car Eliminator” title went to Assassination cars. He also won 10 Division Five championships. In 2003, he was recognized by Bandimere Speedway as a “45 in 45 Honoree” for his “lifelong dedication and support of the motorsports community.”
Drag racing fans will forever remember the image of Roger Guzman, neatly attired in a tailor-made white uniform with red and orange trim stripes, walking the race track in front of his funny car, and, with an extended arm, methodically directing the driver into the lights after a burnout, setting the stage for another incredible quarter-mile performance meticulously orchestrated by the legend known as “Mr. Assassination.”