photo: Paul Stenquist

The Glory Days of professional drag racing are long gone. Sure, cars are faster than ever before, but the cars all look like the same bar of soap with different stickers all over ‘em and it’s hard to get excited as a spectator when a race lasts 4 seconds.

And, besides the Elvis of Drag Racing –– John Force –– the personalities are gone. Drag racing used to attract a woolly, motley crew of huge personalities because it took that kind of warrior mentality to hurl oneself down a quarter mile ribbon of blacktop as fast as possible with as little weight and protection as possible.

So, it’s with all that behind us that we share this snapshot Pam Hardy just posted on her FaceySpacey: Jungle Jim Liberman, Jungle Pam, Austin Coil and Merle Mangles after hours and relaxing. Coil, of “Chi-Town Hustler” funnycar fame, Mangles and the Jungles Jim and Pam of the most beloved F/C team to ever tour, in a candid glimpse of the lives of pro drag racers in the early Seventies.

Photographed by Paul Stenquist and here, he comments on the shot:

“These aren’t good photos, but some of you may find them interesting. I shot
them a couple of days before Christmas in 1976 at Austin Coil’s apartment in
Justice, Illinois. Austin was the brains behind the “Chi-Town Hustler” funny
car, a top contender for many years in American drag racing competition. In
later years, he took John Force to numerous world championships. In the
foreground is Jim “Jungle Jim” Liberman (the furry thing without a head) and
his girlfriend, sidekick, showpiece, Pam “Jungle Pam” Hardy. Austin Coil and
his friend, Merle Mangles, are in the background.”

Best. Pic. Ever.


  1. Bob C says:

    A year and no comments. Cant let that stand. It feels real strange looking at these old photos. Gone are the days of endless youth. Use to see these guys at Connecticut Dragway. My standing Sunday date was in that dirt parking lot. Jungle Pam reminds me of my high school Girlfriend, I cant quite put my fingers on it. I remember keeping quiet for the cops hanging out at the sharp left corner on Buckely Hill Rd. A couple hundred feet after the turn its time to light them up.

  2. Mike Mygas says:

    Great photo but not exactly the “best” because there are so many that are the best. Pam, you and Jim were the real deal (of course you still are and you’re as beautiful as ever with your classic smile). I was on the Pisano crew for 1985 and I consider professional drag racing the best sport around. You and Jim were ambassadors for the sport and greatly contributed to the excitement and enjoyment. I can only feel sorry that I had never met Jim personally or that I have never met you either. I have watched your careers and accomplishments with absolute respect during your great era of drag racing. Jungle Jim and you will be in my memories and my heart forever! I remain a drag racing “brother”.

    Mike Mygas

  3. Charlie says:

    I fell in love with Jungle Pam the very first time I saw her in the late ’50s at an unknown (now)

    She got everybody’s attention when she came out on the strip to stage that guy she ran
    around with (forgot his name).

    That was back when drag racing was interesting and FUN, which is now gone forever.

  4. Charlotte says:

    Jungle Pam would have been six years old in the late fifties.

  5. Cliff Olson says:

    I am so glad that I grew up back in the day when Jungle Jim and Jungle Pam where regular attractions at Greatlakes Dragway in Union Grove Wi. What awesome memories I have of those long ago summer days and nights! I had a real crush on Jungle Pam, nothing but respect for all of the racers back in the late 60′s and 70′s !

Leave a Reply