I ran across this photo some time back from Howard Deshazo’s website and at the time when I had contacted him he didn’t remember who the people were since it had been such a long time ago but while searching for the info he was able to chime in on how the drag racing days were back then.
This is one of the earliest photos known capturing Jim Butler “Mr. Ford” and his wife in the earliest stages of their drag racing career at their home town drag strip in Big Spring, Texas. A drag racing strip Howard had created in the mid years of the 1950s. Read: Big Spring, Texas Drag Strip
As he remembers it, the people in this photo were super contenders that attended almost all the local events held at the fly by night drag strip. They almost always brought fierce competition to the community with the Ford we see in this picture. Sometimes even a few tear down inspections were performed on the car to possibly detect illegal hotrodding of parts for the classes they were in, but for the most part they were just plain good drag racers and always hard to beat.
While inspecting the photo the first thing I had noticed was the hat on the carb and with that in mind my suspicions pointed me towards the supercharged Ford era of the 1950s. To me this looked like one of those hot little Fords carrying the supercharged Ford v8 of that time. Now, I couldn’t see the whole car in the photo since it was only the front half of it and so with that in mind I also had mistaken the truck for a sedan.
In any case, doing a little off shoot research proved that in the early 1950s, Ford was very popular with its supercharged factory backed v8 power plants. The popular “McCulloch” superchargers is what I thought it was on top that v8. Either way, it intrigued me to see this couple under the hood of that car, tuning on that rare souped up v8 waiting for the next rounds of competition that spawned this whole story.
I contacted Howard once again a year or so later on this particular photo and also in relation to some of the other cars I had found on his site and he was able to direct me to the family website of Jim Butler. It was an email he had recieved about the same photo too with all the info we needed.
A man known as “Mr. Ford.” As for the car? Its interesting to note, as an avid drag racer the man had log been associated with winning championships drag racing a Ford Ranchero. His first vehicle listed on the site for the 57 year, a 1957 Ford Ranchero with 300 c.i displacement “supercharged” and running in the Super Stock classes.
This website has a story about a true Texas drag racing legend who needs to be remembered. As he named one of the last cars he raced and won the “World Point System” in 1966 -Remember Me!
-James began his racing career on the circle track circuit in 1950. In the late 1950s, James began drag racing on the quarter-and-eighth-mile tracks. Two of James’ most famous race cars were “Rowdy Willy,” which won the Top 10 In The World Honors in 1960, and “Remember Me” That Won World Point System in 1966. James sold Rowdy Willy to the Charioteer Drag Racing club in Hobbs, N.M., and the driver for the Charioteers was Lee Proctor of Odessa. Rowdy was in a featured article in the fall 2004 edition of “Gasser” magazine. The last hot rod was a little Falcon Ranchero powered by a 289-cubic inch engine. James won the world championship at Green Valley in 1966 with Remember Me.
Charlie Martin said…
My brother, Raymond Martin raced his “Outlaw” mustang for many years at Green Valley. Because of him, I got to associate with some real characters of the sport. A pair I remember well were Jim and Inez Butler. My brother and Jim became good friends through their west Texas heritage and love for anything Ford. One distinct memory is during that summer of ’66. Driving by my brother’s repair shop on a Friday night, I noticed the doors ajar and lights coming from inside. I stopped and looked inside. In the dimly lit corrugated tin building was that Ranchero with the front end up on stands and Inez on a Creeper underneath removing the main caps. My brother and Jim were jawing about something elsewhere in the shop. They had been racing somewhere and were scheduled to put on a little show at a small local track on Sunday that my brother was affiliated with. The engine had suffered a significant malfunction and Jim and Inez were determined to be ready to put on a show for the locals. They succeeded at that by having the little 289 Ranchero pulling wheelies on Sunday at that little track near Whitesboro to the amazement of the local fans. I still remember that little script written on the fenders: “Yes! It’s a 289.” Can’t blame most folks for doubting it but that was just showing the talent of Jim and Inez Butler. I was rather amused looking over the obituary for Jim recently when I noticed that he had my brother listed as an honorary pallbearer. My brother Raymond had died six years earlier and many years earlier than he should have. Just goes to show how deep the reverence is for those Ford faithful.