TALK ABOUT NOSTALGIA
By “Animal Jim” Feurer
Talk about nostalgia. How about the nostalgia drag racing craze? Of course, my main attention is nostalgia Pro Stock. I got to do several select nostalgia-type match race bookings from 2002 to 2012. My last professional ride was at Cordova World Series match racing Arnie the Farmer Beswick. Aug. 25th. 2012.
I was still involved in drag racing as a NHRA/SFI Certified tech official at Rte. 66 Joliet Dragway from 2004 through 2019. In 2020 and 2021 RT. 66 Dragway in Joliet, Illinois was closed due to the pandemic.
I still hold a SFI certified tech credential till end of 2022.
My last contemporary Pro Modified season effort was 2001. I was able to win the UDRA 2001 Pro Mod season championship with my McCamis Thunderbird Super Coupe-“The Ballistic Bird”
During my active racing years, I garnered Six championships in drag racing. 1973, 1974, 1988, 1989, 1990 and 2001. I won over 200 events, received countless awards and set myriad records. By end of 2001 I was 60 years old, my contemporary Pro Mod equipment, like me was getting tired and out dated. My career had a good run. It seemed like a good place to call it off. I sold my Ballistic Bird Pro Mod. It was last seen in Finland.
I still had my multi championship 79 Mercury Zephyr Pro Stock from the ‘80s nicknamed Zeke. I realized Zeke and I were still in demand for decent nostalgia match race fees. So I decided to have a resurrection tour in 2002 featuring Zeke. Amazingly 2002 was not enough for my fans. My select nostalgia well paid bookings with Zeke continued for 10 more years.
Going back—At the same time I retired from Pro Mod, groups of younger drag racers started nostalgia Pro Stock circuits; Building and featuring look alike tribute PS cars of the earlier days. As far as I know, Doug Schmitt’s beautifully restored Wane Gapp Pinto however -is the only real original PS car running with the Nostalgia PS group.
After I sold my Pro Mod car, those Nostalgia PS folks were hot after Zeke and I to join their programs. Zeke was already able as a 1980s mountain motor PS. Plus, they would have me, Animal Jim the original driver to boot. A pairing situation not out there anymore.
But my decision was clear. As much as I admired what those groups were doing, and would have loved to run with them, sadly it came down to money. Unfairly- those groups are taken advantage of and do not get paid enough. The only reason I was able to do my select nostalgia match races was I was being paid decent booking fees. (About 10 times more than NPS and I also was provided lodging.) By 2009/10. Some events I was booked (Mostly Fun Ford Events) I was only required by contract to make two exhibition runs as a single. Some of those events included showing my original drag car “The Big Animal ‘57 Mercury. And of course to bring both cars I was paid an additional fee.
My last fulfilling hurrah you might call it, was being featured at the Rt. 66 Classic Aug. 18 , 2012. The pristine booked 8 underpaid Nostalgia replica tribute Pro Stocks were led by a classic match race run between me in 1979 Zeke VS my old rival Bill Neri (Veteran PS and PM racer) and his new Bickle 75 Warren Johnson Tribute Replica.
Bill and I did huge long burnouts, and long hard practice launches side by side. It was a classic race. Both mid 7s and I won by a foot.
I consider that night at Rte. 66 my final great moment driving a race car. The next week end at the Cordova World Series, where I had shined for many years, was a fiasco. I do not want to discuss it.
The next weekend for Labor Day I was invited to attend being inducted into the Great Lakes Drag Racing Hall of Fame. I now was in the Great Lakes Dragway Hall of Fame and back in Feb 1996, I was honored at the St. Louis Gateway Drag Racing Hall of Fame. Perhaps Cordova Hall of Fame is next.
After my Cordova fiasco August 25th. 2012, in Sept of 2012, I prepped Zeke to run again. When I fired up-My 700” Hemi Ford sounded great. But I never did race again.
Late fall, in 2012, LINDA and I put Zeke in safe storage.
And Zeke—still is.
I dearly- would like to sell Zeke to someone to use as a 80s Nostalgia Pro Stock. If not– Linda and I will prep it for display here in my shop like we do my first race car-“The Big Animal. ‘ 57 Mercury.
Again-I do admire the effort and results those Nostalgia Circuits apply tribute to. Many of the originals I ran with in the 70s and 80s. I also admire Quain Stott and the nostalgia gassers. Some of those are the real deal.
Well that is all for now. It was time for a short article. Thanks for reading my babblings. God Bless Ya all!
A word from the wise. “Someday is now! Get it done!” The author of that tip is me. Animal Jim Feurer Sept of 2021.
BEFORE I GO. (REMEMBER 9/11 2001)
That horrible day I was prepping my Ballistic Bird Pro Mod that for our UDRA World Finals at Columbus. I was 60 years old. Locked in my shop, phone off. About 10 AM I had to go to Hardware store 1 block away. Everyone in that store was grim. I then learned of the assault on our country. I closed up my shop, went home, turned on TV. Then Slammed in a VHS tape.
I Sat with my 30 cal. MI Carbine locked and loaded on my lap with twin 30 round taped together back to back cartridge magazines. But in reality all I could do was watch , record—- and cry.
I still have the box from fresh Champion Spark plugs I put in my race car that day. The box is marked 9/11 2001 with felt tip pen. NEVER FORGET! NEVER!! NEVER!!!!!!
NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD – By Jim Feurer
Group photo courtesy of Hot Rod Magazine