No one knows Seattle like Gary Densham SEATTLE (July 20, 2005) -- A veteran of four decades of drag racing, Racebricks Funny Car driver Gary Densham knows a thing or two about the good old days. And for the 58-year-old Densham, a former high ...
No one knows Seattle like Gary Densham
SEATTLE (July 20, 2005) -- A veteran of four decades of drag racing, Racebricks Funny Car driver Gary Densham knows a thing or two about the good old days. And for the 58-year-old Densham, a former high school auto shop teacher from Bellflower, Calif., many of his favorite memories of drag racing involve the Pacific Northwest.
Densham grew up in the golden days of match racing when many of the sports top drivers filled the time between the few NHRA national events on the schedule with head-to-head showdowns staged across the country. A lifelong resident of Southern California, Densham raced on the West Coast as much as possible so he could drive all night after a given race and make it back to work Monday morning.
The self-described racing junkie would enter any event he could get to in time, and Washington State was within his range.
"They used to say the three most exciting days in Seattle each year were the hydro-boat races, the 64-car Funny Car showdown at S.I.R. (the former name of Pacific Raceways), and the one day of sunshine they get each year," Densham said with a laugh. "Back in the old days we'd pull all three things off in one weekend.
"The 64-car race was one of the biggest deals in the sport. I'm talking 64 nitro Funny Cars racing for one trophy and all the top guys were there. If you were anything in Funny Car, you were at that race because if you won that, you were the best."
Densham won with regularity in Seattle and other Division 7 racetracks, routinely beating the likes of drag racing legends Raymond Beadle, Don "the Snake" Prudhomme, and Tom "the Mongoose" McEwen. In later years, Densham would regularly drub a young upstart by the name of John Force.
"I remember they'd put together a week in the summer time where we'd race in Eugene, Portland, Edmonton, Calgary, Yakima, and Seattle on successive nights," Densham said. "It was non-stop work but non-stop racing also, and to me that meant non-stop fun."
Memories aside, Densham returns to Pacific Raceways for this weekend's 18th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals ready to write a new chapter in his memoirs. Although his best NHRA-sanctioned race at the facility ended in a runner-up finish in 1995, he knows that if Lady Luck joins his crew, he could take things one step further then he did two races ago in St. Louis, where his Racebricks Monte Carlo advanced to the semifinals.
"We're getting very close to having a consistent racecar that is easy to tune," Densham said. "We've got a lot of experience at this track and that can only help. If we stay within our capabilities anything can happen. Believe me, I've seen it all at this place."