In 1970 Herm Petersen of Poulsbo,
Washington teamed up with Sam Fitz of Bremerton, Washington to
field a top notch RCE (Woody) Top Fuel car. It was Petersen's
second fueler and Fitz's baptism to drag racing. The team was
a natural as Fitz was a fun loving and successful restaurant
owner and Petersen an ace mechanic and excellent driver. Raced
mainly in the northwest, the car was a serious contender at every
event they entered. Until they switched to their first rear engine
Top Fuel car in 1972, this Woody car earned Herm the nickname,
"The Northwest Terror".
Artwork done by Phil Elliott
for the 1971 Petersen & Fitz Newsletter envelope.
Woodburn, Oregon 1971
Flyin' Phil Photo
Bremerton Dragway WCS
1971 WCS Meet Mission
In 2004 Herm
Petersen attended the California Hot Rod Reunion and was offered
the seat in the Chris Karamesines AA/FD for Cacklefest. Like
so many others before him, once again he was hooked by the incurable
drag racing bug. Petersen returned to Washington and immediately
started the search for his last front engine dragster that he
sold in 1971.
Herm's luck was
far beyond most who've gone in search for an old race car. The
most common result is not finding it at all. Then there are those
who found their old cars but they were in need of major repair
to be restored to their original state. Petersen's dragster had
been through three hands over the last 30+ years and although
raced, incredibly it had never been "butchered". The
car was found in Idaho with nothing changed but the paint job
and engine configuration. In short, Petersen probably had the
easiest restoration in Cacklefest history.
Petersen got his car back in
tact complete with an injected 460" big block Chevy engine...
which he sold to help finance the conversion back to a blown
The first thing Petersen did
was strip the car down to the bare chassis and remove some extraneous
brackets that had been added for the Chevy and Powerglide. The
chassis was then repainted to its original blue.
With the chassis done, the car
went to the paint shop for the multi-stage and very complex paint
While the car
was being painted, Petersen was collecting and assembling engine
The car made its unofficial debut
in September of 2005 at a local Auto Parts store.
Incredibly, Petersen who nearly
lost his life in a firey crash in 1973 chose to be the first
"Cacklecar" to do a fire burnout at Bremerton Raceway.
Every year two first-time Cacklefest
cars are chosen to do a fire-up in front of the Double Tree Hotel
in downtown Bakersfield on Friday night. In 2005 it was two of
the best Northwest based fuel dragsters ever. The Petersen &
Fitz car and Jerry Ruth's "business coupe" fueler.
After the CHRR Honorees Award
Presentation a huge crowd exited the hotel for this annual event.
Petersen put old friend Ken Logan in the seat while he tended
Saturday found Petersen
back at the track and having a ball.
After some coaxing Gloria Gibbs
got in the car Saturday afternoon for a fire-up. She loved it.
Nobody was ready for the main
event more than Petersen. This is the Pre-Cacklefest Parade.
After push starting Petersen
drives to his spot in line some 900 feet up the track.
Petersen in his spot
running on all eight.
Event Co-Founder Steve Gibbs
and Petersen following Cacklefest. Happy campers.