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I hope to keep you entertained and informed with tidbits of info and short editorials as well answer any questions from my fans. Please email your questions to me at ajr@grics.net   -  Animal Jim




- January 9, 2010
Animal Jim is voted by competitionplus.com as one of the Top 20 Pro Mod racers of all time!

Animal Jim is credited with being one of the fathers of the Pro Modified Class. During formative days of Pro Modified from 1987 to 1990, Jim and several of his peers started running OutLaw Pro Stock. Their motto was, ďRun You Brung and You Better Bring Enough.!Ē

The Outlaw Pro Stock concept became so popular that in 1990, IHRA started a new professional class to accommodate the Outlaws and named it Pro Modified. After 20 years, Pro Modified cars are now posting runs of 5.70s ET and 250 MPH in the quarter mile and they are still the most exciting and popular door cars in drag racing class.

Photo on right by Frances Butler. FYI - this car was the first Rick Jones chassis & one of the first cars built as a Pro Modified car.



Below are a few of Animal Jim credits from 1987 to present:
1987 & 1988 - won UDRA Outlaw Pro Stock National Championships.
1988 - won the first ever Top Sportsman Heads Up Quick 8 Shootout at the IHRA Winter Nationals at Darlington, NC
1989 - awarded UDRA's Driver of the Year
1990 - July 4th at Norwalk Dragway (now Summit MotorSports Park) at a USSC event, Animal Jim with his new Rick Jones Pro Modified Probe and his 666 cid Animal Ford Hemi named Damien recorded the first 200 mile an hour run with a Nitrous Pro Mod beating Al Billies in the process.
1990 - won the National USSC Pro Modified Championship
1992 thru 1996 - Animal Jim and his awesome Haas WunderBird Thunderbird Super Coupe and his 700 CI Big Boy Ford Hemi reigned as the quickest Ford on the planet.
1993 - was a finalist with Bill Kuhlmann and Scotty Cannon as "Driver of the Year" in the Car Craft Awards. Scotty won.
2001 - won the UDRA National Pro Modified Championship
2001 - awarded UDRA's Driver Of The Year for the second time, UDRA Sportsmanship Award, Mechanic of the Year, and Career Achievement Award.

During Animal Jimís 40-year drag racing career, he has won six Championships, over 200 events and garnered countless records and special awards. Do to his wild driving style, colorful WWF flamboyant persona and magnetism with the fans, Animal Jim became one of the most popular feature Match Race entertainers of the last several decades. Even today at close to 70 years old, AJ stills wows the fans at Match Race appearances.

View the article at CompetitionPlus.com "20 YEARS OF PRO MOD - THE ALL-TIME TOP 20 DRIVERS"


- Sunday, June 1, 2008
Match Race Mania 2008 at Rt. 66 was a big hit - Till the rains came...

Beswick and I were to make 2 runs - and a third if time permitted. We made one. Then it rained. But the first run with all the pagentry and intro is usually the most important one in exhibition match racing. The crowd is still fresh, attentive, sober, and excited.

Beswick reaped his revenge on his loss to me two weeks earlier at Byron.

I chose not to turn my bottle on for the first run. Zeke will run 7.50 without it. (Zeke is only certified for 7.50 do to age) I left on Arnie with a .043 to a .130. RT. The track had just freshened the glue, Zeke left awesome but tires were balling up bad - even with 6# of air. By second gear I had to pedal a bit do to calm the progessing tire shake. I pulled 3rd. gear lever on my Lenco 4 speed and resumed full throttle. At that same time Beswick came around me like the space shuttle!

He was on the nitrous heavy! Only this time he did not melt pistons like he did at Byron May 4th. All of a sudden I started to catch up but too late.

I rang up a 7.73 at 178 mph. Probably would have been a 7.50 /185 if I would not had to pedal out the tire shake. Get this: Arnie's time was 7.35 at only 159. No wonder I started reeling him in in 4th. He lifted at 1000/1100 ft. That would have been a 7.10 at 200 if Arnie would have run it all the way.

When we got back to the trailer, I instructed my Crew Al Schmitt and Danny Smith to heat the NOS bottle up, remove the 85# of wt. bars from the trunk, put tires to 6.5 lbs. To hell with the 7.50 certification. :) I was going to show how Zeke used to run in 1987,1988 1989 and early 90s. I was also going to tell track prep to cool it on the glue in my lane this time. Zeke don't need no stinking VHT! I always did that in real competition. I hated it when they would put VHT down just before I ran.

Unfortunately it decided to rain and my '80s style show and tell with Zeke on the juice will have to wait till next time.

One thing I have to tell: Promoter and owner of Match Mania Rick Krafft who hired me - even though it rained and I only could make 1 of 3 contracted runs treated me more than fair on payment. about fell over when I got my check the following Wednesday from Rick and with a thank you note. Rick is ok.

View the Mania pictures in my Drag Racing Career section. Photographer Anita Heppler gave me some pictures she took. On the one shot-you can see my slicks balled up badly while I am launching. great shot! Anita gave me a framed 11" x 14" of that shot. Thanks Anita!! XXX

It has been quite a ride!


- Friday, May 9, 2008
Yesterday I couldn't even spell Tech Official, and today I Am One!!! Yes it is true! Outlaw drag racer Animal Jim Feurer is a certified Tech official. SFI # 389S. I hold a silver SFI card, no less. The only thing that would be more bizarre is, if Wild Bill Kuhlmann became a tech official. LOL!

How this tech job came to be is this: One of my best friends who is like a son to me is Chris McMahan. Chris is Operations manager of Route 66 Drag Strip in Joliet, IL. In December of 2004 he asked me to work with his tech department for him. I thought it over and said hell why not, Iíll see how the enemy lives. So I went to the Division 3 tech seminar at Indy that January and took the test.

2008 is my 5th year working as a tech official at Rt. 66 Drag Strip and it has been very educational to say the least. Having raced for a living, I try to do my best to help the racer. I take no joy in rejecting a racer, but I do want them safe.

Full time, I run my Speed Shop Animal Jim Racing where I build engines for drag racers, hot rodders and classic car buffs. Of course, I still do a few vintage match races with my legendary Zephyr "Zeke" vs. Arnie "The Farmer" Beswick.

It is so ironic - me, Animal Jim, a tech official. When I started, it was voiced throughout the drag racing industry that making Animal Jim a tech official was a-kin to giving Jesse James a badge! LOL!!

In my 40 years of racing I never grooved on tech officials. (I acquired this little quirk at an early age about not trusting any people of authority.) There were only a few officials I ever warmed up to. I tried to conform to rules and regulations, but sometimes my common sense barometer did not want to conform.

An important man once told me that he heard through the grapevine I was hard to control. I thanked him and said that was the best compliment I ever had! LOL! He did not know how to respond to that answer.

My definition of a Match Racer :
Any drag racer who is booked for a feature exhibition show is a match racer. Whether it is 2 ,4, 8 cars or more. I have been in shows with as many as 64 various drag car celebrities on entertainment contracts for one show. Like Broadway Bob's "Olympics of Drag Racing", Englishtown and Atco Wednesday's "Nights of Fire", The United States Super Circuit, The Legends, Fun Ford events, etc. Sometimes just two of us are featured at a small track to bolster a crowd during a regular local sportsman race somewhere.

In the '80s and '90s when I became a popular and high paid door slammer exhibition match racer, lot of tech, if not all of it was waived. I was used to wheeling into a track and never signed a waiver or filled out any tech card. The manager or owner at some tracks would give me the keys to the track so they could leave after the event and tell me where to hide them when we left and locked the gate. Then we could work late after our performance to get ready for the next gig and move on to it. There are still some tracks that treat me that way.

But once in a while I would run into a zealot official and have to banter with him. Here is one of my favorite tech official stories:
Picture this - in 1993, Ronnie Sox, Charles Carpenter, Norm Wizner and I were booked into Mason Dixon Dragway near Hagerstown, Maryland as a feature show called "The Legends" for 3 runs. The four of us are getting our cars ready while fans gather all around us. Pro Mod was still pretty new and lot of places had not seen Pro Mods yet.

Then some dude about 30 years old comes riding into the pits on a big shiny Harley. He is decked out in a freshly pressed NHRA officialís outfit. Hair cut and posture like a drill instructor. He gets off the bike and I see him go to Ronnie, then Charles and Norm. Then he comes to me and, Al Schmitt, my crew chief has our Haas WunderBirdís tunnel out and the Trick Titanium can inspection cover off putting the super tweak on my Ram duel disc. This spit-shined official comes up to me while I am signing autographs, kissing babies and their cute little mothers etc. and says in kind of a sardonic tone, "I am not here officially. I live close and just came to see what this PROHH MODDD craze is all about!"

His attitude & tone needless to say irked me to no end.

He looked around at my car and then down at my Trick Titanium bell housing and took note of the SFI sticker. He turned to me and said, "If I was here officially, I could keep you from running. Your SFI 1-year sticker is 2 weeks out of date." Well, I knew it, but I just never had time to send it in. Hell, I was on the road all the time!

I abruptly dropped what I was doing, ran over to my WunderBird, and slid to my knees to look at my bell housing. I retorted sarcastically, "Holy dog shit! I can see this $3,500 titanium bell housing will blow to powder any instant now!"

By now we had a pretty big audience gathered, so I continued, "You know what tech man? Did you know that is why NASA uses titanium in outer space? They pray their billion dollar shit fails, falls from the sky and kills people so they can get sued plus lose grant money!!" I was on a roll ... "Furthermore, that is why we use titanium retainers, valves and rods in these $75,000 2,000 HP PRO Modified Engines. We hope the damn titanium parts will fail and destroy the engine!!"

The speechless tech official just turned away, retreated back to his Harley and rode out. The crowd around me cheered and clapped!

I never did get the chance to ask him what he thought of Pro Modified and he didn't even have the courtesy to stay for the pre-race introduction pageantry and watch us run at least once.

Perhaps I scared him off! LOL!!

I my bellhousing to get the SFI date renewed soon after. It is best to be straight with the safety rules especially when Match Racing. Promoters are spending lot of money on advertising the feature cars plus booking fees. Those folks assume the cars they hire are professionals and their stuff is in order.

I was lucky at Mason Dixon that day when I called that young zealotís bluff. If something had happened and I couldn't have raced, how upset the promoters, fans and I would have been - embarrassed and no money.

My contracts with most promoters and agents have a clause stating that my license, chassis tag, and all SFI spec. equipment is correct and up to date.

Be Safe and also save embarrassment.
- Animal Jim Feurer


- Thursday, February 12, 2004
It is official! - I received my SFI certification credentials in the mail last Saturday. I will be working Tech at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet in 2004 starting with ETI & Chassis Inspections on March 27th and 28th.
I will be working all 7 TS races including the NHRA Div. 3 race in July which will have Top Sportsman. The TS season at Route 66 will kick off with a special "Season Opener" on May 1st and 2nd with a whopping $2500-W, $1100-RU, $500- semi, $150-Q and $250 for quick qualifier on May 1st! May 2nd will be normal payout. The other race weekends are June 5th, June 12th, June 27th, July 16-18 (Div.3) and finally August 14th.
For more info on rules etc. see: www.route66raceway.com


- Thursday, September 18, 2003
Show and cruise days are peaking to an end here in northern Illinois. I was lucky enough to win a couple trophys this summer with my 64 Galaxie "Big Red". Most recent -which is shown on my Classic gallery with my grandson was "Best of Show" at the Henry,IL. Cruise Aug 23rd. 2003. Many of my clients on my gallery have also won awards this summer. Bill Hunt's awesome 56 Golden Hawk,Bill Beluschek's perky 65 Mustang fast Back, Charlie Downey's 65 Nova There are more -I will have to varify and ad later.

Since Sept. 7th. my Sundays are dedicated to JFL.football. My 13 year old grandson James Colin Fennell is a JFL senior & star performer on the Marshall Co. Cyclones. I am also the team Video Man. James Colin's dad, Doug Fennell is the head coach and my body shop manager Tim Smith is one of the assistant coaches. So Sunday Car shows for me are out for the rest of 2003. I will make a couple more Fri/Sat night cruises though-before I have to put "Big Red" in his car jacket for the winter.

I missed a lot with family during my long racing career. Now with my grandkids-I have been given a second chance. No "Cat In The Cradle" This Time Around!

Keep the shiney side up, AJ


- Thursday, September 18, 2003
Show and cruise days are peaking to an end here in northern Illinois. I was lucky enough to win a couple trophys this summer with my 64 Galaxie "Big Red". Most recent -which is shown on my Classic gallery with my grandson was "Best of Show" at the Henry,IL. Cruise Aug 23rd. 2003. Many of my clients on my gallery have also won awards this summer. Bill Hunt's awesome 56 Golden Hawk,Bill Beluschek's perky 65 Mustang fast Back, Charlie Downey's 65 Nova There are more -I will have to varify and ad later.

Since Sept. 7th. my Sundays are dedicated to JFL.football. My 13 year old James Colin Fennell is a JFL senior & star performer on the Marshall Co. Cyclones. I am also the team Video Man. James Colin's dad, Doug Fennell is the head coach and my body shop manager Tim Smith is one of the assistant coaches. So Sunday Car shows for me are out for the rest of 2003. I will make a couple more Fri/Sat night cruises though-before I have to put "Big Red" in his car jacket for the winter.

I missed a lot with family during my long racing career. Now with my grandkids-I have been given a second chance. No "Cat In The Cradle" This Time Around!

Keep the shiney side up, AJ


- Sunday, August 31, 2003
Last night-Aug. 30th. My 13 year old grandson & I took "Big Red" our 64 Ford Galaxie 427 ORG. R Code to the inaugrual Henry,IL Cruise In. Everyone loved the Big Red Ford apparently as it won Best Of Show honors. This was second trophy in a row for "Big Red". And I did not even have to make a run down the strip for it.Although I work on show and cruise cars for a living-I never had time to do that stuff myself do to my racing career. (which I do not regret the sacrifice mind you!)So this show and cruise stuff is an all new expeiance for me.It is fun and laid back. But I have to admit-I miss those 6 sec. 200+mph runs and the fire and energy it created in my soul. It is hard to convay that feeling to those not granted a chance to experiance it. I was a very lucky man to be able to do so for so many years.The memories of my day's of thunder will go with me forever!

The Henry Cruise was fun-I enjoyed being with my grandson, James Colin Fennell, winning a trophy and they had a good band.

One of my fans at the cruise asked Colin if he planned to follow my in my racing footsteps. He replied he hoped so. I chimed in :First I hope he ends up playing for the Miami Dophins.Then he will have plenty of money to race.james colin is a standout JFL football player and also a star basketball player. He is only in 8th.grade and already being scouted. Well enough bragging-I hope all have a safe Labor day. We lucked out with out rain last night-but not today. I was going fishing with Colin & my grandaughter Madeline 7 and fish for "Blue-gails" as Maddy calls them.Perhaps tomorrow will be dry. Today will be a good day for Colin & to work on his 66 289 Ford Eng. I am teaching him to rebuild. He does plan to be an engineer.

Going back to Friday-I had a nice chat with Norm Wizner.He confirmed a wild story I heard about his old 57 Mega Ford Pro Mod car. He had sold it a couple years ago out east. Then it somehow ended up in a drug bust impound. A guy bought it for $4300-no eng-but with a Lenco in it. That makes me SICK! The world has no doubt gone mad!

Norm retired from racing several years ago and is building street rods. He said he has no desire or anxieties to race anymore. I wish I could let it go like that. I still get out once in a while for a special match race appearance with my Zephyr.I think I meantioned earlier I also plan some occational testing-just to stay on my game-and enjoy making runs down the strip.I will prob. never let running a car go completely. It is too much of a part of me. Keep the shiny side up,AJ


- Saturday, August 30, 2003
8-30-2003 Well, the 50th. World Series at Cordova, IL.has come and gone.Hard to believe it was a week ago already. It was a blast. The fans were amazing. I signed hundreds of autographs-even some young (& older) ladies body parts. On our last match race run against the Grocery Getter, driven by Eric Larson the win factor was only .02 of a sec. It was a real crowd pleaser.The only neg. was that Eric was the winner. But we may meet again some day. To see Photos of the World Series See. Bill Pratts www.draglist,com Bill Pratt & Mike Garland have some great photos posted. Bill took one of his son and I and Mike caught "Zeke" in a traditional 80s style wheelstanding launch.

Going back to earlier Aug.10th. I entered "Big Red" my 64 R code Galaxie at the 17th. Annual Wenona,IL. Car Show.It was also Wenona city's 150th. year celebration.I won a trophy in the 58 to 65 Street machine catagory. It was great fun and saw lot of old friends and clients. tonight Aug. 30th. I plan to go to a cruise with Linda and the grandkids at Henry, IL. Can you believe that? Animal Jim going to cruises and entering car shows? It is part of life I missed out on all those years racing. It is nice at times to go to a function theses days without an obligation as a booked feature.

As far as future racing this year-I plan only to do some testing with the Zephyr just for the sheer joy of driving and tweeking on the car. I plan to show up unannounced at various dragstrips in my area for test and tune days/nights -pay to get in and have no obligations. My crew will be my wife Linda and my 13 year grandson James Colin Fennell. This way Colin can get some experiance around "Zeke" without pressure of being a booked in act.It should be fun. By the way-My grandson actually owns "Zeke". I sold it to him for a dollar when he was 7.Best, AJ


- Thursday, July 31, 2003
The Oswego Job and Business Fair that "The Big Animal" and I will be featured at will be held in the Oswego, IL. High School Field House on Oct. 28th. It starts at 3:30 See: www.oswegobusiness.org


- Friday, July 25, 2003
The Oswego,IL. Economic Development Corp & Visitors Bureau has booked me to bring "The Big Animal" to Oswego, IL. for their Oswego Business & Job Fair. The Date is Oct. 28th. Starts at 3:30 PM. I will be there to sign autographs and recall the good old days at Oswego Dragway. Beee! Theerrrrr!


- Sunday, July 20, 2003
Today-July 20th marks 34 years that I started racing in organized drag racing.On this day in 1969 I took my newly done orange 57 Merc "The Big Animal" to Oswego Dragway in Oswego, IL. As a rookie I was lucky to win 1DHotRod class.As I made my way down the return road, I vividly recall announcer Bob Doss telling I had won and also telling about the USA Moon landing. A hard day to forget. A Giant step! Man-I was only 28 then!

I celebrated my annv. with the "Big Animal" today. Yes, I still have the famous orange 57 Merc.I keep it on display at my shop-Animal Jim Racing & Classic Cars in Lacon, IL.

This afternoon-I dusted the big Merc off and strapped myself in one more time. Then I proceeded to drink 4 ice cold Honey Brown bottles of beer and ponder all we had done together those many years so long ago. It was a peacefull moment-Just me and my car and a six pack of Honey Brown. See the "Big Animal" on my race car gallery.


- Sunday, July 20, 2003
Big Reunion on April 24th. 2004! WANTED! Anyone that raced US 30 (Gary,Ind) Oswego Dragway (Oswego,IL.)Seneca Dragstrip, Meadowdale Dragstrip and in the Chicago Amphitheater for a reunion: Saturday , April 24, 2004 from 1 to 5 P.M. At Al's Body Shop in Senica, IL. There will be a car show-But no Awards. Call Willie at 815 795-2019 or 815-252-9455 This will be a great show. I will have my "Big Animal" 57 Merc there!! See photo on my gallery.


- Tuesday, June 03, 2003
My "Ballistic Bird" Pro Mod Super Coupe T/M chassis is sold and on it's way to Switzerland. My Bird was purchased by Peter Grossman from Switzerland to race in Pro Modified in Europe. Peter nor his friend who came to USA to buy the car and help/oversee it's packing in the oversees container could speak no english & I no German-but we got the job done without much problem. Good Luck Peter!!! Animal Jim


- Tuesday, June 03, 2003
I had a great time doing color commentary for the AMS Pro Mod Series at Route 66 Lucas Nats.May 30/June 1st. I shared the honors with retired Pro Mod ledgend Wally Bell and Bobby Bennett, editor of www.competitionplus.NHRA announcers where Bob Unecker, Bob Frye and Johny Moto. I want to thank my friend Chris McMahan(Director of Competition & Gen. mgr. of Rt. 66) for making this happen.

I also want to thank Al Thompson of Al Thomson Racing for his hospitality at this event.We all had "Mega Fun" at his hospitality trailer. Al had enough food and "refreshments" for an army. Animal Jim






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