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.
out on his arch-rival, Herm Petersen at Portland in 1971.
Flyin' Phil Photo
1970 rig in the pits of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
International Speedway 1970
Ruth at Pomona in 1970
County Internationals Raceway 1970
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.
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
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.
The car was first seen
by the public during the Goodguys 1st Northwest Nationals in
September of 2005.
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.
- 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.