But remember, he had seven race tracks to deal with, all at the same time, and he was producing radio ads for each one of them. Additionally, he would have to keep all the race car deals, locations of cars and a zillion other details whirling around in his mind during the racing season.
With the majestic snow-capped Mount Hood as a backdrop, Portland International Raceway has one of the prettiest locations in all of motor sports. Noise issues at PIR shutdown the major drag races at the end of 1986. (Photo: PIR)
Jungle Jim Liberman and wife Pam traveled completely across the country for 32 Funny Cars in Portland. (Photo: Richard Huffman)
No doubt, that could get a little overwhelming at times. More than a little overwhelming, it was mass-craziness at times.
Maybe with all these Funny Cars going here, there and everywhere, it is more than one guy can ever keep track of. Back in these days, the average Funny Car team attempts to run as many race dates as they possibly can. You just gotta keep that cash flow happening. That was job one for them, to be successful and keep racing.
In other words, when having Funny Cars coming from throughout the United States and Canada for the Big Show in Seattle, it's pretty easy to get confused with where they will all be the weekend before. With hundreds of radio ads essentially counting the number of cars you say you WILL have and offering double your money back IF there is less than that established number, well, you'd better be right!
In reality, this "double your money back" approach for this event was a sort of a dare to race fans to come out to Portland's park-like raceway and find us wrong. Just count them and try to double your bucks. It was concept of sorts that drew a line in the sand by saying "just be there and check us out."
Just think about this concept that is available here: You pay $10 for your admission to the drag races that night. If there are not 32 cars you get $20 back and a whole evening of entertainment for free. You double your money in one evening. I certainly don't see that taking place with the stock market.
Would that be appealing to a huge throng of folks? Read on.
With just a couple of hours before the Portland event does its customary fire-up with all the cars and this massive audience jammed into PIR, we all felt it best to make sure that 32 Funny Cars really did exist. After all, some of the race fans had entered the race track nearly eight hours before the Funny Car segment of the action so they could have planned to count the cars as they arrived. Just sit at the gate with a counter. Pretty easy and maybe really paying off.
With the pits full of "floppers" it is pretty hard to be able to count each and every one. Huge trucks and trailers along with a bunch of sportsman cars were all spread out throughout the area. We just knew it would be tough for the average race fan to get the numbers exactly right as the pits were all stuffed, and those very pits at PIR are not exactly large. The room there in the PIR pits was certainly limited.
Of course, we had to wait until all the race car teams that were planning to be there had arrived and to make sure none of them had broken down on the highway somewhere. The counting had to wait until late afternoon. All the teams had been instructed to be there several hours before the exciting fire-up that would take place at 6 p.m. But will they be there by then?
With Interstate 5 bordering the race track on the east side and PIR located only 15 minutes from downtown Portland, the potential is perfect for a giant of an event if you find the right combination. As always with the Northwest, the weather factor always plays into the picture. This time around it was perfect, absolutely perfect.
It would realistically be pretty hard for someone to find all the cars, count each one and make sure that 32 of them really did exist. At the time we were thinking, "We do have more than enough Funny Cars to cover ourselves, uh, right?"
But with hundreds of hard-sell radio ads bombing the area for two weeks and the folks out there that have been questioning the size and quality of this show for several years, what if a lot of them found out different?
The folks might just be talking "double bucks." Getting paid to go to the drag races, as per the radio ads.
It would be hard to count them in the pits, but just before the first round we rolled them out on the track surface for the fire-up. It's two rows on the straightaway, and you can count them really easy. Let's see here, we have two rows with 16 cars each, easy to count, so very, very easy to count!
We had hours of discussions about this potential issue as the crowd kept coming ... and kept coming ... and kept coming. We were all flat nervous for sure!
Counting to see if there really were 32 Funny Cars could just be a minor part of the problem if we are wrong.