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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

How Jungle Jim Got His Name

By Clare Sanders

I recall asking Jungle how he got named, and he just shrugged it off with an, "Aw, it just kind of happened while I was driving Brutus." I asked Bobbie (ex-wife of Jungle). She said... "He just fell into it with the first car. They had the Samson, and the Brutus, and Jungle Jim just had a catch to it. Plus he was crazy and sort of an animal."

By the way, articles on Jungle all seem to be "after the fact." What I mean is, everything documents his lifestyle after he became rich and famous (i.e., the Hot Rod Magazine article, depicting him as a drug-crazed, shallow party animal). I lived through the times with him when he became the legend, when he was the Racer's Racer, the innovator with the first two-car team, the wild man who could get the "Blue Dart" down the track in an "S" shaped trajectory, and pull out a win. (The Blue Dart was his original Chevy II, so named by Lew Arrington because it would "dart" this way, then that). The team that won the very first NHRA Funny Car Eliminator Title (with Jungle wrenching, how could one lose!). 

That Jungle was a hard-thrashing, loyal-friend, helping-hand contributor to the sport and spirit of match racing. His "pad" in West Chester was a haven for the touring Funny Car teams passing through. A spot to prep the car, bench race, share some ideas, and be with friends. Jungle was helpful to a fault, one time helping Steve Bovan with his Tune-up (called a combination, back then), then watching Bovan win the race at Capitol the next night. Jungle never even got a thank you. Talk to Malcolm Durham about those times. Speak with Steve Kanuika, Al Graeber, Tommy Ivo, Roland Leong, Bill Taylor, Paula Murphy, Jon Asher, etc. 

The gel that kept Jungle's rubber side down, in my opinion, was Bobbie. When she left him, it all started to come apart. I left not long after that, too. Pam got lots of ink, but she wasn't really a part of Jungle becoming Jungle. She was another late arrival.

I've heard enough from last minute hangers-on who just caught Jungle's final act, then tried to "write his legend" having only seen the December of his life. Unfair, at best. Feels good to get a comment posted. Thanks!

"Jungle Clare" Sanders

 

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