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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Locally: Spokane’s Neil Hansen inducted into the NHRA Division 6 Hall of Fame

UPDATED: Sun., Oct. 11, 2020

Neil Hansen, left, with Dexter Ivie, a mechanic, working on the Arctic Thunder nitro funny car.  (Neil Hansen/Courtesy)
Neil Hansen, left, with Dexter Ivie, a mechanic, working on the Arctic Thunder nitro funny car. (Neil Hansen/Courtesy)
From local and wire reports

For nearly 10 years, Neil Hansen of Spokane entertained drag racing fans from coast to coast and into Canada with his flame-spewing jet dragster.

This past weekend, he got to take a bow.

The 61-year-old, who has been involved in drag racing since 1975, was inducted into the NHRA Division 6 Hall of Fame at Renegade Raceway in Wapato, Washington, where he was helping run the 2020 Northwest Reunion drags.

“I’m pretty excited about this,” said Hansen, a long-haul trucker by profession who joins some of his Hall of Fame drag racing idols like Jerry “The King” Ruth and “240 Gordie” Bonin.

“It’s pretty special to have your name mentioned with that group of people.”

Hansen, the first Division 6 Hall of Fame inductee since 2016, started hanging around Spokane Raceway Park two years before graduating from Cheney High School, doing what he could to be involved.

But he put his drag racing dreams on hold in 1978 when he joined the Army. From 1979-82 he was stationed at the White House, he said, as a member of the Presidential Honor Guard.

In 1983, he ventured back to the track, “volunteering wherever I could; doing odds and ends,” he said, eventually working his way onto the starting line as a race starter.

In 1990, he started bracket racing in street eliminator categories and in 1996 the opportunity presented itself – OK, he all but kicked open the door – to purchase a jet car.

Ninety-nine percent of his trips down the quarter-mile strip, he said, were for show; for entertainment. And what a show: for roughly 6 seconds at speeds approaching 300 mph.

“I said to myself, three strikes and I’m out,” he said of serious mishaps with the car he dubbed “Brain Damage” that would end that venture.

After having one of his parachutes deploy prematurely and burn on a run he estimates hit close to 350 mph before he could get the car stopped, and enduring a mechanical failure another time, the third strike came when a car in the next lane got loose, shot into his lane “and nearly hit me.”

“I sold the jet in 2005,” he said.

Since then he’s helped “wrench” on some of the top cars in the Northwest and is handling the starting-line duties at Renegade Raceway.

College scene

Three former area high school standouts, Matt Bray (Ferris), Cameron Bushey (Mead) and Karl Muelheims (St. George’s), are among the 11 players selected to the Whitworth men’s soccer All-Decade Team for the period 2010-11 to 2019-20.

Ten of the 11 contributed to four Northwest Conference championships (2012, 2014-16) nine were All-West selections, two were All-Americans and coaches Sean Bushey, who won the first title, and Morgan Cathey, capturing the three in a row, were NWC coaches of the year.

Midfielder Cameron Bushey (2008-11), the only player who didn’t share in a title, was a two-time first-team All-NWC and third- and second-team All-West Region picks.

Bray (2011-14), a defender, was a second-team All-American, first-team All-West and the NWC Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 when the Pirates advanced to the round of 16 of the NCAA Division III Championships. He shared in two championships.

Muelheims (2012-15), a forward, was the NWC Offensive Player of the Year in 2015 and an All-West first-team pick when he set a single-season school record with 21 goals, his eight match winners tying for first in the nation.

He left school with two NWC titles and 34 goals.

The other All-Decade Team players:

Goalkeeper: Timmy Costa (2013-16). Defenders: Balin Larson (2012-13), Andrew Flint (2010-13), Spencer Wolfe (2012-15). Midfielders: Jonah Snyder (2014-17), JT Meyer (2009-11), Eric Espinoza (2014-17). Forwards: Sam Engle (2012-15), Moi Diaz (2016-17).

Alex Asenov from Vancouver, British Columbia, who attended the Weil Tennis Academy in Ojai, California, is a freshman at the University of Idaho and will join the Vandals men’s team for the spring season, coach Daniel Hangstefer announced.

Golf

Four teams of area players finished within four shots of the winners to lead the showing by local players in the 2020 Pacific Northwest Pro-Am last week at Astoria Golf & Country Club in Warrenton, Oregon.

Pro Mike DeLong and amateur partner Bob Christensen of The Coeur d’Alene Resort tied for sixth in the 52-team field at 13-under-par 131.

Billy Bomar (Prairie Falls Golf Club) and Andrew Von Lossow (Indian Canyon) and Corey Prugh (Community Colleges of Spokane) and Reid Hatley (Hayden Lake Country Club) were in a group that tied for 13th at 11-under 133.

In a seven-way tie for 19th were Travis Huskisson and Zanke Mularski of Kalispel Golf & Country Club at 9-under 135.

Pro Brady Sharp and amateur Tyler Daniels of Wine Valley Golf Club in Walla Walla won by two strokes with a 17-under 127 over three teams that tied for second.

Hockey

The Spokane Chiefs announced they have signed a pair of 2003-born forwards, Copeland Fricker and Ty Cheveldayoff, to WHL standard player agreements.

Fricker is a 5-foot-8, 161-pound speedster from Midland, Texas, who the Chiefs selected in the ninth round of the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft. The last two seasons he’s had 77 points (30 goals, 47 assists) playing on 15U and 16U teams in Hartford, Conn.

He was captain of the 16U team.

Cheveldayoff, a 6-foot, 205-pound left-handed shot from Stony Plain, Alberta, was listed by the Chiefs after an impressive showing at the club’s 2019 training camp.

Passed over in the bantam draft, the Chiefs said he has shown improvement and has 25 goals and 22 assists at 14U and 16U levels and added three goals and two assists playing with an 18U AA team.

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