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A number of us legendary promotors in our own mind were talking about the true "characters' in our sport. As the stories flowed aided by a few sips of evil rum it became apparent that my character was going to trump their characters by a long shot. So, without further ado, here are a few absolutely true stories of the legendary Jim Brewer.
I first met Jim Brewer when I was 13 years old. I was the ET slip passer-outer at Thompson Drag Raceway. I approached a highly modified Ford Falcon called the “Fire Brewed Falcon” and the fun began. Just as I was handing the driver his ET card a large bang nearly put me on the ground. This was followed by a huge engine fire. I showed my 13-year-old courage level by running away from the inferno as fast as I could. I turned back to peek at the devastation and couldn't believe my eyes. The driver was a skinny black man who proceeded to try and extinguish the flames by beating it with a hankie. That's right, a hankie. As luck would have it the next car in line had a fire extinguisher and came to Jim's aid. The “Fire Brewed Falcon” would live for another day and I was witness to the bravest man in drag racing.
As it turned out Jim's secret passion was to own and drive a wheelstander which made perfect sense for a guy who tried to put out a five-alarm fire with a hankie. And so Jim created the “Hummingbird” wheelstanding pickup. It was a creation only a mechanical engineer could love. It was the perfect drag racing creation except for one thing -- it couldn't wheelstand. They finally decided to strap several tool boxes to the tailgate as counterweight, which worked like a charm. Only issue was that they didn't secure the drawers so when it did a wheelie it left about 200 hand tools in its wake.
After a lot of experimenting Jim and the crew finally figured out the counterweight deal and prepared to navigate its first full quarter-mile wheelie. At the starting line the truck went into a wheelstand. At about 400 feet the “Hummingbird” was still in wheelstand mode and the crowd was going crazy. At about 800 feet Jimmy had already eclipsed his longest wheelstand ever and the crowd was near hysteria. Then it happened.
Due to a crewman who forgot to tighten most of the lug nuts, the left front tire came off and Jimmy had no idea. But the 4,000 people knew and they prepared for an epic crash. When the “Hummingbird” finally came to roost it did so by barrel rolling about six times. Jimmy got his Exhibition License and the legend continued.
Several wheelstanders later Jimmy decided to add pyro to his show. He affixed several gerbs (think Roman candles) to the car. Again an engineering faux pas occurred. Seems the gerbs were attached to the car pointing straight to the side. When he lit them several hundred people lining the track had to hit the ground as they were under attack from this motorized missile launcher.
Jimmy was hired to entertain the crowd at Norwalk Raceway Park. The problem was that the event was an all motorcycle swap meet. This mostly white Harley Davidson crowd let’s say were not enamored with a black man with a car called the “Peacemaker” as their entertainment. Sadly, Jimmy only made one run because on the first one several of the patrons used the car for target practice.
I think Jimmy is now in his mid 80's and still going strong. He still wheelstands on occasion. He still sings in his church choir. And I am a better man for knowing drag racing’s number one character, Jimmy Brewer.