Jim Rockstad had a lengthy career in motorsports that began in 1957 at an airport drag strip in Shelton, Wash., that kindled a love for the sport that lasted until he retired at age 58. During that time period, Rockstad climbed the ladder in multiple aspects of drag racing, first as a pit crew member, then as a race car owner/driver, and onto his position as General Manager of International Raceways, where he ran four separate racetracks in the Northwest.
The race fans at Portland International Raceway had been buying tickets for about eight hours since the gates had opened early in the morning that day.
Bill Doner has always been a huge risk taker, willing to let it all happen, to do something bigger and better than before. As a former sports writer for a Southern California newspaper, you would think that he could juggle a lot of things, even though they were very complicated.
Bill Doner has always been famous for his outlandish, one-of-a-kind promotions. As President of International Raceway Parks Inc., in the 1970s, his corporation produced events at seven different race tracks throughout the west.
The stage was set for the Last Strike Tour to arrive at the NHRA national event as Don Prudhomme hangs up his driving career in 1994. Kenny Youngblood had arrived in Seattle with the gorgeous painting of that rare photo of Prudhomme in his early Funny Car days.
In the winter of 1993, I attended the annual NHRA Track Operators' Meetings, which are akin to the Winter Meetings for major-league baseball.
The ticket-selling started at 6 p.m. Friday evening for the 1979 edition of 64 Funny Cars. Race fans would buy their tickets and then camp out in a huge parking area, waiting for dawn to then enter the race track.
What would all of this excitement be with some laid-back radio spots telling the folks where to spend their hard-earned dollars?