My pick for Racer of the Week is Jim Usher, from Childswickham, Worcestershire, United Kingdom. Jim was recommended to me by our friend and the top guy at the Supercharged Outlaws UK group, Andy Fadster. Thanks, Andy!
Jim is the pilot of the Hemi Hunter front-engine dragster, which was launched in 1974, so it’s 2 years older than Jim is. It was built by British drag racing legend Allan (Bootsie) Herratage. It ran as a pro comp car back in the day, and has been through many different owners over the years, as well as different power plants. It originally had a big block chevy and injection on methanol, then a blower fitted by the Stones Family. The engine was taken out and put into their Fuel Altered T Rat and the car was sold on. The current owner is Jim’s great friend Steve Ellis from Dorset. Steve bought the car from Roy Wilding, who was on our show a few weeks ago.
When Steve bought the car it had a 392 Hemi in it, cast iron block. It was a very heavy motor. The car sat in a barn for about 5-6 years and he finally asked me if I would drive for him…of course Jim had to think about it for a split second. He said not a problem! He couldn’t wait to get back in the seat again. They ran the Hemi for 3 meetings, getting better and better, then they blew the crank out of her! And then they did the only thing you can do but put a Chevy motor back in the car! Steve bought a Merlin 3 big-block Chevy, with all aiuminum heads, the blower and fuel system came off of the old motor. The quickest time and speed at the moment is a 7.96 ET at 169 mph. They’re taking little steps as they only have hat injection at the moment but they are aiming to get the car to run low 7s or quicker.
Jim started drag racing when he was 9years old as a St John’s Ambulance Cadet . He fell in love with the sport and his home track of Long Marston raceway England. After a few years, he became a Track Marshal; one of the youngest in the sport at the time. He had the job of checking starting line passes. A few years later, he moved to water butt's and then starting line itself. In 1995, Jim joined the Fire and Rescue Team and did 10years with that team, where he was Chief Fire Marshal.
in 2005 he was asked if he wanted to join a race team and help out. He said yes, of course, to work with a Fuel Altered team! A year later he went to Frank Hawley’s Driving School in Gainesville, got his NHRA Race License and flew back to the UK to drive The Mob FUEL Altered, which then became his ride from 2006-2009, racing in the NFAA Drag Racing Series. In his rookie year he ran the car’s first-ever 6-second pass, 6.92 at 203 mph. The team had been together for 30 years and never had run a 6…they came close, but never before Jim had they done it. Jim and The Mob ran many more 6-second passes over the years. At the end of the 2009 season, things went wrong between the owner and Jim so they parted company. Jim said the most unpleasant time of the following years was watching someone else drive your dreams! But life goes on and the next chapter starts…
Steve Ellis buys the FED and his son was supposed to drive but they asked Jim instead so he’s the lucky guy again. They have a fantastic time when they race now, so it’s no pressure and just have fun. The Supercharged Outlaw class is growing in the UK and they have some dates in Europe too now, so things are looking up after the closing of their home track, “Shakey”. Or Shakespeare County Raceway, originally named Long Marston Raceway or Avon Park Raceway, depending on when you went there. They will miss that place forever, but they moved forward. Santa Pod Raceway UK is their new home now, and it's a fantastic venue. The first race meeting is May 10th - 13th at the nostalgia nationals, run by the NSRA. Another great meeting also will be at Dragstalgia, another fantastic event. Jim’s in the middle of doing a Facebook page; he’s trying to get a web page done too, so there’s lots going on all the time with work, always being away and never having the time.
Jim said “I wrote this info in a lorry at 4.30 AM on my way to Ireland to work, but I would like to thank JB for making me his Racer of the Week. It’s a great show. I’d also like to thank the fans that come and see us at the track and hopefully follow us on Facebook too, and finally to Steve Ellis for giving me the opportunity to work with him and his team, and my family and all our friends. Thank You all! Jim Usher Full Revs.”
Jim added: “The beauty of being a truck driver. You can add that if you like, just like John Force, my hero and probably a lot of other truck drivers around the world.”
It was added, Jim, and we wish you good luck, safe racing and the best of times in the future!
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