Match Racing Pt. 2

        ROCKY'S ROAD            


Match Racing Pt. 2

The wheeling and dealing world of match racing in the 70’s Part #2 

In the mid-70’s, just prior to the back-to-back 32 and 64 funny car shows at Seattle and Portland, I was approached by Rich Rogers. Rogers was from Puyallup and involved with building Puyallup Raceway Park years prior and he drove the Austin-Rogers dragsters for many years, with lots of success. It became apparent that some of the local funny car racers were a little bothered when the “big guns” would come to town and overshadow them. I guess it is their “home turf” and there was a few that were a little slighted when these cars came to the Northwest.

Rogers drove the Miss Debra funny car, reportedly named after his daughter. His car was a local funny car that competed mostly in Portland and Seattle. Rogers ran his car on a small budget with some good results.



Rogers said to me, “I should get Raymond Beadle’s (of Blue Max fame) money as I run as good as he does”.  Understand that there is some whining going on often about who should get what and why when it came to the “deals”. Obviously, Beadle was either the current or former world champion for the NHRA at the time, traveled from Dallas all the way to the Northwest and would probably be in the final at both Portland and Seattle. His “deal” was considerably larger than that of Rogers in his Miss Debra Monza from Puyallup. But, somewhere in Rogers’ mind, he felt that he should be getting the bigger money as he was the better car.

I surmised that there is one way to answer this little question. I said, “Rogers you can have Beadle’s money, if you can beat him in Seattle or Portland….but if you don’t beat him you get nothing, no money at all!” to my surprise Rogers agreed. “No problem, just go out there and beat Beadle!” I said, as I took a deep breath…….we’ll pair you up with Beadle in both races.”

Quite frankly, I sort of offered that deal as a joke as I didn't really think he would want to do such a thing. But, off he went getting ready for the Portland and Seattle events that were coming up real soon. In his mind he had some sort of a great deal. Beat Beadle for the big bucks.  Sounds easy----well, not exactly. (I hope).

When the whole show arrived at Portland, I was in the race tower with Doner going over the car list and deals, as I had arranged for some of the cars and Doner arranged for the rest. As we went over the list I said, “We will need to run Rogers side-by-side with Beadle”. I then told him the deal I had made and he said, “What?” (That’s a huge WHAT with a little shouting going on)………I was ready to go hide under a table somewhere. I told him that the chances of Rogers beating the Blue Max are miniscule. But also remembering that in this sport where whatever can go wrong often does).

Admittedly, I was quite nervous when the two cars ran together at PIR but the Blue Max did drive away from Rogers…whew! So far, so good it’s one down and one to go. Rogers didn’t do the customary trip to the tower for dollars, as he just didn’t show up at all....a good start for me.

A week later with all of those cars, and a lot more, headed to 64 funny cars in Seattle. I’ll have to say that I was a little concerned all week long knowing that somehow the Blue Max needs to beat Miss Debra so this problem would be solved. You see, I had no idea, at the time, what I had got myself into by spouting off to Rogers and making this “deal”. I knew what Rogers got paid and I was certain that Beadles’ deal was many, many times larger than that. I felt like a stooge for what I had done but it could all be solved with the Blue Max streaking down the track way ahead of Rogers. (“C’mon Raymond whup him as my future in the track operator's world is on the line”....I need for Doner to have a little positive relief in this whole picture).

The pairings were all set for first round of the “Chicago-style” event: Random pairings to match up all the cars for two rounds of racing, with the two quickest cars returning for a final. Doner had set up Rogers against the Blue Max again, as planned. My stomach was tight as a knot as I watched the burnouts by the two cars.

My mind was saying, “what if?” If Miss Debra with Rich Rogers pulling the levers thunders down through there ahead of the Blue Max, I’m toast! What do I do then?

It was awful to even think about any other scenario----the Blue Max has just got to reach the finish line first.


It was a tense moment here as I allowed all sorts of odd thoughts of what could happen during this round of racing. It's not out of the picture that Beadle could explode a motor...or get into some oil and click it off.....I mean, this is drag racing where things can, and often do, go wrong.

The mind can really come up with some crazy thoughts as I waited for both motors to fire up. So far both cars were running in the burn-out area. No explosions or 'oops' going on so far. You can imagine how, deep down, I was cheering for Beadle. No mistakes Raymond, please.

The two cars made their respective burnouts preparing for this qualifying round. They left the starting line together (as I held by breath) and the Blue Max stormed down the SIR quarter mile and then right before the lights, the blower belt flies off!! Eeeekkk!! (What if the blower belt would have come off just a tad earlier in that run……let’s not think about that!!)

Once again, Rogers never came to get any dollars and he never even knew about all the anguish that I went through. Needless to say, that is the last time I did that routine. I’ll just keep my mouth shut and go back to work. No more brave, foolish moves for me. (at least, for awhile anyway!)


I will always wonder if the Blue Max would not have won that pairing what would have doubt, Rich Rogers would have been banging on the tower door....and I would have been hiding underneath a table somewhere.....but it all worked out. WHEW!!

I mended my position with Doner (or maybe Raymond did it for me) as this whole thing worked out just fine. Now, my mind thinks about the “what-ifs”.....I don't want to even think about what could have happened. Good thing Doner and I were the only two that knew about the plan…well, there was Rich Rogers also...after all it was his idea from the very beginning.