Collection Highlight: Steve Denbo, PIR Drag Strip Manager

Collection Highlight: Steve Denbo PIR Drag Collection

In preparation of the new PIR (Portland International Raceway) exhibit that was unveiled in March 2017, Collection Manager & Archivist Katrina O'Brien worked with multiple donors and lenders to develop the six display cases covering many parts of PIR's history, including one covering drag racing at PIR using select items from the Denbo Collection donated by Steve Denbo's widow, Rosie.



WOS Archive volunteer Steve Dietz (not Denbo) took on organizing the collection, making his way through each of the over half dozen boxes, developing a schematic to inventory the collection, helping to identify items for the display, learning about Denbo and drag racing at PIR, and creating the finding aid for everyone to be able to see and experience the full Denbo collection. The complete Finding Aid #3595 Steve Denbo PIR Drag Collection is now available through the online collection catalog.



By Archive Volunteer, Steve Dietz

The World of Speed Archive has just inventoried and accessioned into its collections materials obtained from the family of Steve Denbo. Steve was the dragstrip manager at PIR from 1985 to 1995.  He was also manager of the National Hot Rod Association Northwest Division Certification Team, and a 33-year member of the Slo Pokes Car Club of Vancouver, Washington. He managed drag racing at PIR after the noise ordinance of 1985 necessitated major changes. After receiving the NHRA Certificate of Achievement three time as PIR’s manager (1987, 1990, 1991), Denbo was awarded Drag Racing Manager of the Year in 1992. Under Denbo’s care, PIR’s Drag Team won the NHRA Team Spirit Award in 1992 and 1993. Denbo was inducted into the NHRA Hall of Fame in 2012.



Artifacts from the collection include trophies and plaques awarded to Steve and his teams.



There are also jackets and shirts worn by Steve and other polos and T-shirts from a variety of events.



Additional artifacts are in the form of patches, stickers, tickets, and run cards.



Almost 300 color and black and white photographs provide an excellent visual documentation of PIR races and race teams for the period 1982 to 1999.



The Denbo family has also donated various serial magazine, newspaper, newsletter, and year book publications such as National Dragster Magazine, Northwest Raceway News, and Dragracing World that are available through the World of Speed magazine collection.



The challenges of Steve’s work and the sometimes-complex tasks associated with his responsibilities are illustrated by the collection’s paper items. Race specs, articles, personal and institutional papers, brochures, programs, pamphlets, schedules, and flyers give a glimpse of what was required to keep the PIR drags running smoothly over a ten-year period.



For more details about the Steve Denbo collection, drag racing at PIR and in the Northwest, definitely check out the Denbo Collection Finding Aid in the World of Speed online Archive Collection Catalog.