From the Pages of Herm Petersen's Scrapbook
Covers the biggest names in drag racing during the 1970s in the Pacific Northwest
Herm Petersen’s scrapbook contains over 100 pages of drag racing history during the 1970s with numerous local newspaper clippings and magazine covers, much having to do with his own harrowing career as well as other racers thriving in the Pacific Northwest and on the national stage at the time, including Don Garlits, Jerry Ruth, Gaines Markley and Bob Mitchell.
If you listened to AM radio during the ‘60s, many of these drivers were being advertised as celebrity attractions to bring crowds to local drag races, Woodburn, Madras and Puyallup dragstrips being no exception, to see the “show”. In Washington, Seattle International Raceway had at least one but sometimes as many as three of them at every race, each bringing their own style of antics, fanfare, and pageantry. Nearly all of the drag racers in the articles that Herm assembled were racing icons in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
The articles above represents a who’s who of drag racers competing in the Pacific Northwest during the 1970s. When Poulsbo, Washington’s own Herm Petersen was racing, his big-name competition was Jerry Ruth of Kent, Washington and Don Garlits of Tampa, Florida, plus several others—these guys were regularly headliners on the dragstrip stage.
Articles cover local racers including Gaines Markley and Bob Mitchell. Jerry Ruth, Petersen’s direct competition, graduated from Kent Meridian High School in Kent, Washington while two-time NHRA champion Markley graduated from Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington. Many of these racers would have raced side-by-side over the years, often times seeing each other regularly during the racing season over the years, making for friends as well as competitors.
Articles spotlight local wins and losses covering the nail-biting leads of Jerry Ruth, Gains Markley, “TV Tommy” Ivo and Herm Petersen.
In 1973, Peterson was injured in a fiery incident at the Orange County Raceway. His car hit the rail halfway down the strip and burned over 50 percent of his body. Knowing that breathing in the heat can be deadly, he held his breath all the way through and was able to survive by not burning the inside of his lungs.
The scrapbook is a testament to Herm Petersen’s racing life in the ‘70s and offers a wealth of knowledge and insight into the drag racing scene during that time period in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.