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Racing Action Resumes Around the Northwest

By Annette Barton

Yakima, WA - warmer weather is prevailing and for the most part, Northwest racing is back in action!

Last month the ambient temperature at Renegade Raceway south of Yakima, WA was 44 degrees and 3 weeks later, for the first annual Renegade Raceway Funny Car Frenzy, the ambient was hovering around 90 degrees with a track temp of 137degrees at 2 p.m. A huge difference to be sure and track hook was great for racers all day May 11.

Ten nostalgia-bodied Funny Cars were on property for Derek Snelson's inaugural event, and nine of them ran for the trophy. Ron Richardson, East Wenatchee, WA, was unable to make the call with his 'Rapid Transit' Plymouth BB/FC but even with mechanical issues plaguing them, Ron, his wife Jessica, Dave 'the Germainator' Germain along with his wife Kim, stayed to cheer on the other racers and visit some of the other Funny Car legends in the pits. Low ET and eventual FC Event winner was the 'Lady Elaine' BB/FC Trans Am driven by Elaine Sellers and tuned by her husband, Ron. They ran hard with a new engine combination and beat Edmonton Alberta's Cal Tebb at the stripe as Tebb leaned out and blew the burst panel with a loud boom and fire. Dale Harsin Racing out of Boise, Idaho brought his 'Outlaw' and 'Idaho Thunder' BB/FC cars while Don Harter came in with his 'Hart Braker' and 'Hart Braker Too' BB/ FC cars and shared the pit with the burnout King, Greg 'Zeus' Howland with his BB/FC Corvette. Cal Tebb's GTO 'Judge' team won the Best Appearing Crew with their top-notch orange and black shirts while the stunning 'Jim Moore' Funny Car won Best Appearing Car.

This event specifically honored former Funny Car driver Jim "Kahuna" Moore, who ran an AA/FC Plymouth Arrow out of Alaska back in the 70's and an AA/FC Charger built by Al Swindahl in the 80's. Snelson arranged for Jim to come see the Arrow recreated in his honor, a perfectly-stanced Funny Car owned by Hal Westerlund and painted by Ron's Hot Rods and Customs. Moore's former crew chief, Brad Anderson, came to join his friend as did Gus Foster, another NW racer who crewed on the 'Foster Bros' fuel cars with his brother, Glenn, during the Glory Days. Anderson worked for Swindahl and met Moore through him. I showed them a photo of the original Arrow taken at 1979 Firebird Raceway and Moore picked out himself and 2 crew members as well as the guy who was lining up against him - Tom "the Mongoose" McEwen - who went #1 in points ahead of Moore who earned the #2 spot.

Moore and his wife Joyce now live in Tuscon, AZ and were able to bring their son and daughter and 4 grandchildren from various parts of the north and southwest to join them for the first burnout and run of the 'Jim Moore' FC with Derek Snelson behind the butterflies. I was able to enjoy some truly amazing stories and appreciate that these kind folks took the time to visit and share their stories with us.

Also, on property were the crowd favorite Northwest Nostalgia Tour, a group of fun-loving, hard-driving, tire-smoking, great-grilling, old school Hot Rodders. This group has adopted Renegade Raceway as their Home Track and they brought in 28 Gassers, Topolino's, Studebaker's, Willy's, Trucks, Front Engine Dragsters and Altereds. They made one pass Friday night and several passes on Saturday in front of the largest crowd of spectators I have seen at Renegade to date. On Friday night Derek Snelson celebrated his birthday a day early by lighting the Large Candle on his EFX Tomahawk Jet Funny Car then pausing later to enjoy a birthday cake prepared by the NW Nostalgia Tour crew! The 'All American Willy's' and 'Wild Child' disappeared in tire smoke while the 'Legally Altered', 'Voodoo Child' and 'Juvenile Delinquent' wowed the crowd with wheel-standing launches. If you missed them, they will be in Spokane for the June 21-23 Dr. Pepper Nitro Spring Nationals and for the Riverdale Gasser Mania July 27-28.

Congratulations to NW Nostalgia Tour 'A' Winner Barry Rawson with his 'All American Willy's'; 'B' Winner Bob Lindeman with his high and dry Stude Gasser; and the 'C' Winner Bret Renschler with his FED!

Renegade's 2018 Champion, Bob Bundy, won Box driving his AMX with R/U Stephanie Wendt driving her Wendt Racing dragster. No-Box winner was Tod Haste driving the Dirty Deeds Camaro with R/U Dutch Winters driving his Olds 4-4-2. Jr. Dragster winner was Ellie Brown with R/U Kymbree Brost. Congratulations and thank you for supporting your local racetrack!! Check out Renegade's full schedule at www.renegaderaceway.com!

Perfect weather and respectful participants made this event open to happen annually!

After enduring numerous rainouts, Spokane County Raceway was able to get in an NHRA Lucas Oil points race and run the Don Wilbur Memorial Race on April 28. It was a pleasure to listen to stories from Don's wife, Nancy, as well as Paul Wingfield from the Comancheros Car Club who knew Don as a brother, and to hear from OJ Stephens who spent time with Wilbur working with Ron Prior Sr. at the Greybeard Racing speed shop. Don was an amazing man who dedicated his life to Motorsports and to the Parkinson's Foundation. He and former business partner, Orville Moe, were instrumental in starting the Spokane Raceway Park and the Spokane Auto, Boat and Speed Show. Thank you to all who came to race and to honor Don. The family truly appreciated your show of support! Be sure to check out SCR's schedule of events at www. spokanecountyraceway.com!

Now, on to YOUR LOCAL racetrack: if you don't use it or support it, the track WILL go away. Any track, not just the "Outlaw" tracks. NHRA tracks are being shut down at an alarming rate as housing converges upon them or the FAA reclaims the paved lanes. Insurance changes and EPA regulations are tough to keep on top of as are the many costs of making improvements, keeping up with the area needs, making necessary repairs just to meet code or what have you. Next time you feel the need to complain about the cost of a weekend of safe racing, think about what it takes to open a track and keep the rent and utilities paid up, even though events aren't running due to off-season or poor weather during the season. If you feel it necessary to bash your local track on Social Media, please stop and think of the implications. You might think you are 'getting back at' an owner or manager but you are really driving another nail into the Closed sign.

Police up the grounds after an event. I was Firebird Raceways care enough about their tracks that some went out early in the mornings to pick up trash before it could blow into neighboring areas. BE GOOD AND CONSCIENTIOUS NEIGHBORS in the pits and in the stands and follow that habit when you get home! I can never say "thank you" enough to the countless paid and unpaid staff at our Northwest racetracks for all that they do! Some tracks have events each and every weekend, some only a few times per year but the staff still must prepare the grounds, test the equipment, prep the tracks, stand out in the weather all day running the lanes, taking tickets, or wearing hot and bulky rescue garments to make sure YOU get home at the end of the day. Please let them know you appreciate their work.

Unless the track and the land around it for a few miles is owned by a private entity, the track is in constant jeopardy of being closed by one foolish Social Media post, by one Homeowners Association, by one government agency, by hap-hazard management, by one racer leaving the track, showing off and causing a crash making the headlines. And remember, at every track there is a young person watching your every move and every sound, wanting to emulate you! Be the person, the role model, that youngster thinks you are. Rant over...

With deadlines looming and space constraints, I would like to sincerely thank my Forever Family, David and Jeanne Marin and Patti Stein, without whom I would have never gone back to what I loved to do in college - take photos and write stories. These past 20 years and 3 months with CruZin' Magazine have honestly flown by and I am SO thankful for the friends I have made along the way. Amazing people who have outstanding talent and can build what they see in their minds eye then be humble about their ability. I also want to thank my Top- End Photographer and Proofreader, the intrinsically talented Sandie McCollum, who would load up in the car at 6 a.m. or earlier after working an all night shift, just to go to the race track or a car show so we could gather notes and photos for articles. How she kept her mouth shut about the Hot Rod Hall of Fame Award is still beyond me.

We have met the very knowledgeable and talented John Novak and the CruZin' top reporter and Associate Editor Bob Roseberry in our travels to the west side; spent time at the CruZin' booth in the Portland Roadster Show with the energetic Patti Stein and unflappable Ben McQueen; we have read news of the NW car show scene from contributors such as Jerry Brenner, Jerry England, Dave Gibson, Brian and Barb Curtis (all who have been contributing for many years) and reading NW drag racing action written by Dick "the Joker" Kalivoda. You all are VERY much appreciated as are your stories and photos. Without your time and effort to showcase hundreds of NW shows each year, many car hobbyists wouldn't stray much farther than their hometown parade to show off. See you at the track or a car show!!

Thank you again! Please race safely and thank a Veteran for his/her service always!

 

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