Jack Harris is no stranger to
the sport he competes in today. He started drag racing in 1963
with a Model A Ford roadster that ran in the A/Street Roadster
class. Teamed up with partners Lyle Mason & Craig Inglet
(Lyle & son Scott are past crew chiefs on Nitro Thunder)
the car was powered by Lyle's 327 Chevy engine and was very competitive.
After its initial success, the
next step was the installation of a 283 Chevy build by new partner
Dennis Saenger. They moved the roadster to a new class (B/Street
Roadster) and abruptly set a new NHRA National Record its first
time out at Poctello, Idaho in June of 1966. The team reset the
record many times over the next few years, the 128.89 mph speed
record stood until August of 1968.
In the fall of 1967 a Roy Stein dragster chassis
was purchased and the 283 Chevy out of the roadster was punched
out to 310 cubic inches to run Jr. Fuel. But at a Division 7
points race at the Las Vegas Stardust Dragway the car weighed
in at 930 lbs, and was classified as a Top Fueler. In spite of
the fact it was unblown, the car did very well in the top class
of the sport. Tagged "The Bad Hombre", the car qualified
at every race they entered but failed to win a title.
In 1969 the team stepped up for
another new car, a Mark Williams chassis that was run in the
NHRA Super Eliminator class as an A/Fueler. At a points race
in Mission, BC JACK set a new NHRA class record at 7.42 et. (old
record was held by Gene Adams Chrysler hemi at 7.46 et).
In the Fall of 1970 another new
chassis was ordered from Mark Williams, a twin engine configuration
that would house a pair of fuel burning small block Chevys for
Harris to sit behind. With Lyle Mason's and Bruno Perry's engine
in the front and Dennis Saenger's and Bill Robins' engine in
the rear the "Bad Hombre II" was not only unique but
very competitive in Top Fuel. But this timing for this venture
was ill fated as the face of drag racing changed in the next
two seasons to a rear engine world.
Harris (standing with hat) and the "Bad Hombre" crew
made quite a fashion statement back in 1970.
Keeping with the times, in early
1973 the last in the series of "Bad Hombre" cars was
parked and Harris began driving the new Garlits chassied Top
Fueler owned by local racers Larry Larson, Kenny Robison and
Doug Bennett. Feeling quite at home in his new domain, Harris
nailed down the Top Fuel title at the Utah State Championships
his first time out. "The Undertaker" as it was called,
won four straight Top Fuel titles their first season. A great
sophomore year in rear engine fuelers.
Yet another Mark Williams chassis was ordered
for the 1974 season. Harris kept up his winning ways, bagging
several more Top Fuel titles throughout the region. Then in 1975
Jack won the first High Altitude Nationals, a star studded 16
car show in Denver beating Vern Hagstead in the final.
In 1977 Harris teamed up with
Craig Inglet, Dennis Saenger and Don Mattinson's "Mountain Raider" NHRA Top Fuel
entry. The partnership was very successful and netted another
Utah State Championship for Jack. But with the rising cost of
racing and his growing family, Harris decided to retire from
driving and tend to his auto body shop business.
18 years of 'retirement' went
quick with dirt bikes, sand rails and building turbo kits for
snowmobiles. Harris also found time to build a log cabin with
family and long time friend and racing partner Dennis Saenger
in the High Utah Mountains as a hunting & snowmobile get
away. In between trips to the cabin and building & painting
street rods he found time in the fall of 1990 to go to the Bonneville
Salt Flats to watch the World of Speed Event. Watching Nolan
Whites Streamliner make the first 400 mph run in 25 years gave
Harris the bug for speed again. (Nolan now competes in the Goodguys
A/fuel class). So, 1991 was spent building a full fledge streamliner
to run in J/ Blown Gas class (500-750cc) or 45 ci. The chassis
was constructed by Tom & Gene Burkland of Great Falls Montana.
The Burkland Bros. have their own Streamliner and just last fall
it was the first piston driven car to hit 450 mph. Unfortunately
the run could not be backed up as both chutes ripped off sending
Tom on a 3 mile ride off the end of the course in the mud.
As for their LSR streamliner effort, Jack and son
Brett decided to run one of their 650 cc Polaris snowmobile engines
complete with their turbo kit. At a whooping 225 hp again first
time out Jack broke the current record of 189.86 with a first
full run of 209 Mph. The next year Brett drove pushing the record
to 222 mph. Brett got his license , broke the record and got
into the 200 MPH CLUB.(to get into the 200 MPH CLUB you have
to break a record & set it above 200 MPH) all in one day.
They had some old timers come up and said that ain't fair as
it took them 25 years to get into the 200 MPH CLUB. While at
the salt flats Wally Parks & Ray Brock came by to check out
the Streamliner, after discussing the good old days of drag racing
Wally said you should go to a Goodguys event and have some "
fun". Someone just happened to have the latest Goodguys
Gazette with Pete Kaiser's Chevy Top Fueler on the cover, bingo
the wheel started turning and the "Nitro Thunder" seed
was planted. It took two trips to Goodguys events (the first
Pomona event won by Dan Horan and the March Meet 1996) to make
a concrete decision on what class to run... Top Fuel. A chassis
was ordered in the fall of 1996 from long time friend Frank Parks
of Neil & Parks. The rest as they say, is new history. See:
Since 1997 Harris has had great success with
his "Nitro Thunder" cars in the VRA and Hot Rod Heritage
Nostalgia Top Fuel world. Never failing to qualify, the "Sheriff"
and his "Posse" race to win and win they have. Sitting
in his trophy case is the prestigious trophy signifying the winner
of the Goodguys "March Meet" which Harris was won two
years in a row - 2001 and 2002. In 2003 he consistently set top
speed marks including a new world record of 265.09 in 2005.
In winning the 2008 NHRA Hot
Rod Heritage Racing Series March Meet Jack set a new ET record
with an incredible 5.56 that still stands to this day.
Following his March Meet romp,
Harris went on to win the 2008 Boise Ignitor while setting a
new track record at 5.69 in the process. Following the Ignitor
win, Jack turned over the reigns of Nitro Thunder to son Brett
so he could focus on the teams new funny car.
Brett then went on to win the
2009 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series March Meet in convincing
fashion which spearheaded his being crowned the 2009 NHRA Hot
Rod Heritage Racing Series Top Fuel Champion
More at: Jack Harris Racing