Maple Valley racer hopes to win race on his birthday
By KRIS HILL
Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor
August 2, 2012 · Updated 12:10 PM
Jim Mabry hopes to bring home a Wally on his 61st birthday.
Mabry, who lives in Maple Valley, will be racing in two sportsman classes at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Northwest Nationals this weekend and the elimination rounds are on Sunday which happens to be his birthday.
This year Mabry will run in Super Street and Super Comp. He knows a little something about winning on his birthday because he did it at Pacific Raceways when he turned 45 in 1996. That is the only national event win he has scored since he started racing in 1975.
Well, he actually was street racing in the 1960s as a teen in Maple Valley, but the conditions became unfavorable.
“After I got out of the service the fines (for street racing) were heavier than they used to be, so, I quit doing that and began bracket racing,” Mabry said.
Mabry has raced all over the West Coast in his Super Comp dragster from Mission in British Columbia to Firebird in Phoenix, Ariz., to Woodburn which is about a half an hour outside of Portland, Oregon.
He’s been racing the dragster for six or seven years, but doesn’t travel as much now because it’s gotten fairly expensive, especially to take two cars, not to mention gas, food, and all the other costs of racing.
In addition to the dragster he’ll be driving a Vega station wagon in the Super Street category.
At one point, Mabry lived in Arizona for about seven years, and a good friend whom he met in Phoenix told him that if he ran both cars this weekend he’d fly out from Chicago where he lives now and help out.
“It’s a lot of work to run two cars,” Mabry said. “There’s quite a few people I know that do it and it takes a heck of a lot of energy which is a lot more than a 60-some-year-old person has anymore.”
His friend Jerry, who is flying in for the race, isn’t his only supporter. Jim Kimmer of Black Diamond Automotive is his biggest advocate and Mabry said he can also count on Kevin Renick, who lives near Covington, as well as Howard Esteng. His girlfriend, Lynn Keith, is helpful, too, by making sure he’s got plenty of food and a full cooler before he heads out to the track.
This year Mabry has primarily been bracket racing at Pacific Raceways, which is just five minutes west of downtown Covington, but also made a trip to Phoenix to run two divisional races that weekend in order to have enough points to run the Northwest Nationals this weekend.
He’s enjoyed racing at Pacific this year, in particular.
“Actually, the people have been pretty good over the years,” Mabry said. “This year they’ve really done a turnaround. Their attitude toward the racers are we’re welcome. They treat you nicely, like they appreciate your business.”
Having a nice atmosphere at the home track will make it even more fun over the next month because the national event this weekend is just the start of a series of races which culminate with the Division 6 run off later in August.
This weekend is a points series race, followed by a division race next weekend, followed by the division run off, Mabry explained.
“I am hoping to get enough points to get invited to race in the Super Pro class,” Mabry said. “The division run off is held at Pacific this year and it’s been seven years since it’s been here. It’s always best to run at your home track. We have a little bit of an advantage.”
And while the soon-to-be birthday boy doesn’t think he’ll win both the Super Comp and Super Street classes this weekend, calling it “a pipe dream,” he looks forward to the opportunity to win the event and bring home an event trophy, known as a Wally, on Sunday.
“I’m just trying to duplicate the Super Street deal again and see if I can win it on my 61st birthday,” he said. “I can’t quit racing now because I can’t postpone it and pick it up again because it’s hard to be competitive against the young group that’s out there now.”
Contact Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor Kris Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 432-1209, ext. 5054.