Welcome to Northwest Nitro. These are all
old photos I took during what I would consider the golden years
of drag racing. Back then there were lots of great nitro funny
car and top fuel shows every Summer in the Northwest. It was
easy to get hooked on the cackle, the long burnouts, and the
big names like the Hawaiian, the Blue Max, Jungle Jim, the Ace,
the Mongoose and the Snake. Not to mention the local favorites
like 240 Gordie Bonin, Twig Ziegler, Kenney Goodell, Jerry Ruth,
Nitro Nick, Mike Miller, and Ernie Hall.
Today, the professional nitro cars can only be seen on the NHRA
circuit when the tour comes through the Northwest during the
"Western Swing". If that were the case back in the
70's I would have never had the opportunity to experience this
spectacle and would have never had any interest in getting involved.
Luckily, I've seen the best and worse of what this sport has
to offer through the lens of a camera, as a crew member, a driver,
and even a track announcer.
The first series of photos are mostly from
around 1978 and were shot in Woodburn and Portland. I will be
adding new versions of Northwest Nitro when time permits as there's
plenty more old photos to scan including more action shots. Some
of these pics are rare and you won't see some of these cars anywhere
else on the internet so feel free to drag and copy what you want.
I didn't shoot them not to be seen.
I hope you enjoy this first blast from the past!
32 Funny Cars at Portland
International Raceway in 1978. For years this was the biggest
and most popular race in Oregon. Some of the cars in attendance
included the Blue Max, the Hawaiian, Ed McCoulloch, 240 Gordie
Bonin, Twig Ziegler, Chicago Patrol, Bryan Reins, Mike Miller,
and Gary Densham,
Twig Ziegler at Woodburn after
burning up his body in a pit fire two weeks prior in Portland.
Twig debuted this Mustang the following season and crashed it
in Boise one year later. Twig was a Northwest favorite.
Mongoose vs Snake at the Oregon
Open in Portland in 1978. The Snake and the Mongoose were always
a big draw and partly responsible for the sport's growth in the
So Cal's "Lttle John"
Lombardo and Portland regular Ed "the Ace" McCoulloch
Rich Rogers and Kenney Goodell
at Woodburn Dragstrip in 1976 others there included Gordie Bonin
and Jeb Allen who was in for the Mongoose who burned his car
down the prior weekend!
John Force in Portland and
Dale Pulde in Seattle. Pulde was in Portland the prior day but
that race got rained out!. A little known fact about Force is
that he raced this same car at Woodburn that year at the NHRA
points meet. Little did any
one know back then that Force would
eventually become one of NHRA's biggest names winning over 100
The Bubble Up team was perhaps
the Northwest's most successsful Nitro Funny Car team, 240 Gordie
Bonin drives the car here in Woodburn in 1976 and in Portland
in 1978. Notice the no.2 on the Firebird. Finishing second to
the Snake that year was nearly as good as winning the title as
Prudhomme won nearly every national event that year so for everyone
else it was a race for second.
Wendle White's White
Lightning and Eugene's Springer and Price were Woodburn regulars.
Wendle's car and trailer were formally that of Kenney Goodell.
In fact, Goodell drove it for Wendle when it still had a Dodge
body on it. The Springer and Price car was an A/FC before the
class was banned.
Big Jim Dunn of Funny Car
Summer fame at PIR and the late "Nitro Nick" Harman
in Woodburn in the US Marines car. After racing nitro funny cars
he switched to a jet for a couple of years.
Dean Rowlely's monza with
Gordan Fabeck driving in Portland and the popular Green Elephant
at Woodbrun with Mike Miller driving. Fabeck was the runner up
at the Winternationals in Top Fuel that year.