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, of Bellflower, Calif., has posted many final-round Funny Car victories on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series over the course of a career that spans to the 1970s.
While the former shop teacher has taken a step back from running full time, 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 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,” he said.
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 said.
“I’ve had a nitro-burning Funny Car since 1971,” Densham said. “I raced mostly in Southern California and because of the summers 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.”
Densham’s son, Steven, 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.
“Steven drives the nostalgia car, and does a great job of it,” he said. “Because of 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 in the American Hot Rod Association. Racing in the Northwest has produced plenty of memories in more than 30 years of racing.
“One of my most memorable moments has to include 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 nights at the Longhorn (in Airway Heights),” he said. “I love the track configuration at Spokane as it’s the best up-close-and-personal track for fans to enjoy drag racing.”
Qualifying begins at 11 a.m. with elimination rounds running throughout the afternoon and the Night of Fire set to kick off in the evening. Tickets provide fans access to the pit area.
Tickets are on sale through the track’s website. Fans can also purchase tickets in person at Snow’s Auto or at the gate.
To learn more about the Night of Fire log onto spokanecounty raceway.com or call 244-3333.