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Keeping Pace

Densham returns to driver’s seat at SCR

The annual Night of Fire drag racing event invades Spokane County Raceway on Saturday night and features NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car star, Gary Densham.

Doug Pace

Motorsports Correspondent

The Spokesman-Review

One of the region's most exciting racing events of the year returns to Spokane County Raceway on Saturday night as the NAPA Auto Parts Night of Fire drag racing spectacular takes over the complex. Featuring the Summit Racing Series, the event also draws some of the West Coast's top Funny Car, Wheel Stander and Jet Car drivers including Funny Car veteran Twig Ziegler and NHRA superstar, Gary Densham.


Densham, who calls Bellflower, Calif. home, was the first driver for John Force's third team with Auto Club of California as the primary sponsor and has posted many final round Funny Car victories on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series over the course of a career that spans back to the 1970s.


While the former shop teacher has taken a step back from running full-time on the Full Throttle Series, he does make seven to eight starts a season across the Western United States in his modern drag race car while also running match races in his nostalgic 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Nitro Funny Car.


On Saturday night Densham will look to capture victory over Zeigler, Spokane's Chris Davis and other competitors from across the Western United States and Canada.


Fans will recognize Densham's entry into this weekend's Night of Fire event from his traditional summer-time family vacation tour of the region that began nearly 30 years ago.


The car (racing on Saturday) is a nostalgic Funny Car which sports the same paint scheme as the 1973 Teacher's Pet Dodge Challenger that I raced in the Northwest in the 1970s. It has 3500 horsepower with a nitro-burning all aluminum engine.”


As a teacher Densham had weeks off in the summer to pursue his passion of drag racing while also taking the opportunity to bring his family along for a vacation, he explained.


I've had a nitro-burning Funny Car since 1971. I raced mostly in Southern California and because of the summer's off started going farther away (from California) as the match-race circuit developed. I had success and we made it a family vacation over the years. I guess that is how my son got interested; he grew up at race tracks in the Northwest.”


Stepping away from full-time sub-five second runs on the top NHRA circuit gives Densham time to spend with his son Steven who is learning the family business as a driver and crew member with Densham Motorsports. Steven has been driving for the team this season while his father turns the wrenches but this weekend will be a rare opportunity to see the elder Densham back in action.


Steven drives the nostalgia car, and does a great job of it. I crew chief the car and we have volunteer crew members, some of whom work on the (Full Throttle) car. Due to school commitments, Steven could not make this race so I will drive-I still like to get out there and compete.”


Winning at SCR is something Densham has done in the past as a competitor on the American Hot Rod Association. Racing in the Northwest has produced plenty of memories in over 30 years of racing, according to Densham.


One of my most memorable (racing) moments has to include (winning) the three AHRA championships at Spokane along with a runner-up finish at Seattle (on the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series) and so many great after-race night's at the Longhorn (in Airway Heights). I love the track configuration at Spokane as it's the best up-close-and-personal track for fans to enjoy drag racing.”


Qualifying gets underway at 11 a.m. with elimination rounds running throughout the afternoon and the Night of Fire set to kick-off in the evening. Tickets purchased for the event provide fans access to the pit area where they will be able to chat with drivers and watch their crews adjust the race car over the course of the event.


Tickets are on sale through the track's website including a VIP package that features exclusive seating along with a hot dog and soda. Fans can also purchase tickets in person at Snow's Auto or at the gate on the night of the event. To learn more about the NAPA Auto Parts Night of Fire at Spokane County Raceway log onto or call 244-3333.


Follow The Spokesman-Review's motorsports coverage online at To reach motorsports correspondent Doug Pace email or follow him on Twitter @racingnewsource





Spokane County Raceway

Friday 6 p.m.

Pony Stocks, Road Runners, Bump to Pass (oval)

Saturday 11 a.m.

Summit Series, Funny Cars, Jet Cars, Wheel Standers (drag strip)


Stateline Speedway

Saturday 6 p.m.

Late Models, Hobby Stocks, Baby Grands


Spokane Speedway at Spokane Co. ORV Park

Saturday 7 p.m.

Flat-track motorcycle racing


Eagle Raceway (Republic)

Saturday Noon

Modifieds, Super Stocks, Hobby Stocks, Fever 4's

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Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.

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