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History

 

Depending on who you talk to Jerry Ruth was either the King of the Northwest or a legend in his own mind. Never one to win a popularity contest, Ruth was, if nothing else, a prolific drag racer. Outspoken... abrasive to some, Ruth took the sport as serious as a heart attack - and he was very good at it. From his start in 1960, Ruth campaigned a number of cars. From 1964 to 69, he amassed an enviable record, including the NHRA Division 6 title five of the six years. He won both the largest Northwest races (the N.W. Fuel and Gas Championship, Puyallup, and the Travel-Ons Fuel and Gas Championship, Arlington) three years straight.

However the car in question was built by Don Long for the 1970 season and unlike its predecessors, it was a very nice but no frills "business coupe" (shorty body) Top Fueler. Although Ruth had a good 1970 season, in 1971, the last year he would run this car, Ruth had his finest hour. He had added a state-of-the-art Don Long Mustang funny car to his stable and ran both cars at nearly every race. The dragster recorded a best of 6.43, at the time equaling the quickest TF run in history. Even more important, Ruth became the first driver to double up professional wins – at the opening Division VI race (Boise), he won both TF and FC. Then he did it three more times. By 1972 Ruth had sold this car and had made the switch to Keith Black aluminum 426 hemis and a rear engine dragster.

 

Ruth out on his arch-rival, Herm Petersen at Portland in 1971.
Flyin' Phil Photo

 

Ruth's 1970 rig in the pits of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Vern Scholz Photo

 

Ontario International Speedway 1970

 

Ruth at Pomona in 1970

 

Orange County Internationals Raceway 1970

 

 


Flyin' Phil Photo

 

Ruth's 1971 handout.
Rich Carlson Photos

 

Prior to this 1970-1971 Don Long car most of Ruth's cars had full bodies. In this case Ruth went for function over form - which is not to say this wasn't the picture of perfection every time it rolled out of the trailer. Many to this day think it looked great without the nose as the "business coupe" look was (and still is) classic.
Tom West Photo

 

Orangeline

 

Restoration

 

In early 2005, about the same time Bucky Austin was restoring the Eagle Electric digger, he became aware that Ruth's 1970 Don Long car was in the Northwest and available. Ruth already knew where the car was but was unwilling to pay the asking price. The price didn't phase Austin and he bought it. Unlike the Eagle car, Ruth's Don Long car was in fairly good shape. Plus, there was no nose piece to deal with. Austin gave it a restoration worthy of a "King" but he did it for himself and to preserve a spectacular piece of drag racing history.

 

 

 

 

 

Once the body was fitted and finished the chassis was painted, the applicable parts polished and chromed and controls mounted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bucky Austin did much of the restoration himself.

 

 

 

 

Orangeline

 

The car was first seen by the public during the Goodguys 1st Northwest Nationals in September of 2005.

 

The car made its "official" Cacklefest debut Friday night as a featured "Cacklecar" at the Doubletree Hotel following the CHRR Honorees Award Ceremony. Ironically the other featured car was the newly restored Petersen & Fitz fueler that gave Ruth fits in the Northwest in 1970 and 1971.

 

Michelle - a Bakersfield local - warms the car up for Ruth.

 

 

After some "negotiations" Austin put Ruth in the car for the fire-up.

 

The crowd reaction is the only caption this photos needs.

 

 

Cacklefest VI - Jerry Ruth in the parade.

 

After his push start Ruth makes the turn onto the track.

 

Only Austin knows if "The King" will be in the car at its next appearance but for the one that counted, Ruth had his clock rewound 34 years.

 

 

 

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