Jungle Pam, drag strip legend (6.03)

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I first came across Jungle Pam Hardy when someone sent me a link to Charles Gilchrist’s fabulous photographs of her which were taken in the 1970s. Here was this beautiful, glamorous woman doing her thing in – supposedly – a man’s world. Immediately I wanted to find out more.

Pam was pegged as the side-kick to Jungle Jim Liberman (described as the Elvis of drag racing), she famously guided him to the starting line after his burnouts dressed in hotpants and go-go boots. To my mind they were more like a double act who added chilli sauce to the already heady pleasures of super-fast cars, noise and nitro.

Jungle Jim died in 1977, but Pam’s legend lives on. Check her out.

What was your first drag racing experience like?
Overwhelming, exhilarating.

How did you meet Jungle Jim?
Jim drove his Vette up beside me, hopped out and introduced himself to me.

What was your role when you were working at the dragstrip?
Change oil, change water, pack chutes and tool gofer.

Whose idea were the hot pants and go-go boots?
That was JJ’s idea.

Who were the other women on the scene at that time?
Paula Murphy and Shirley Muldowney.

How important were Norman Blake’s photographs in establishing you as a drag racing face?
Norman is a dear friend who stuck close to home (NY) so my exposure was limited. Other photographers across the US: Tinsley, Plummer, Gilchrist, Reyes and McClurg to name a few.

How do you feel when you look at those old pictures?
Old.

What happened to you after Jungle Jim died?
9 to 5 jobs – just regular life.

Do you still go drag racing? If so, where?
Maple Grove, Indy and E-town.

How does drag racing today compare to what it was like when you first started out?
Too corporate – the circus left town.

Who are your favourite drag racing personalities?
Scelzi and Gilbertson.

What advice would you give to women interested in getting involved with drag racing?
I suppose that would depend on which aspect of racing they desire to participate in – basically start at the bottom, pay your dues and work your way up.

What are you up to now?
9 to 5 job.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I’m not very loquacious.

Visit Jungle Pam Rides Again right now.

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