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After Bill Porterfield restored the Fred Gibb/Dick Harrell 1969 ZL-1 Super Stock car in 1989 he took it back to KCIR, one of the tracks the car had spent a lot of time on back in the day. After spending eighteen years making exhibition runs and special match races, he sold the car and figured he was done with drag racing. In 2009, when the Jim Kirby/Dick Harrell funny car came along, it was a no brainer; he had to have it. Both of the cars had been on the same Dick Harrell Performance Center racing team and had matching paint schemes: the famous candy apple red with gold lace panels. The chassis had already been restored but the body and ‘patina rich’ paint job were left untouched. Bill and his old drag crew finished up a few things on the car, made a few changes in the engine and cackled it on 50% at a few local events in Michigan. In 2010 they took the car, along with their restored 1968 Chevrolet ramp truck, to the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green and a few other events in Michigan.
The last event on Bill’s list was the Muscle Car Reunion (MCR) event at KCIR.
Yeah, money was tight and the nitro drum was just about empty since the engine was now up on 90%, but Bill knew that KCIR was one of Kirby’s favorite tracks and the car had made quite a few passes down those lanes. KCIR is also the track where Dick Harrell won the ‘King of Kansas City’ title driving the car. Another reason to justify the trip was the opportunity for Bill and the car to meet up with Jim Kirby and his original crew members Mike Kausch and John Martin. Bill and his wife Pam hauled the car in their enclosed trailer. Greg Mankin and Rick Boyd drove the ramp truck and they were met by long time drag racer and GM engineer R.J. Baker. Bill’s daughter Missy and grandson Colter drove out for the occasion and made it a family affair. By the time Valerie & Elaine Harrell, Dale Pulde and original crew member Mike Kausch showed up, it had taken on the air of a family reunion.
After a couple of cackles in the pits, the Kirby/Harrell and Bruce Larson cars were brought to the line and staged for a photo op. Think about it… two 1968 Camaro funny cars running blown, nitro burning non-Hemis (aka 427 Chevrolets) staging at twilight at one of the most historic drag strips still in operation. The cars made a tribute ‘cackle cruise’ down the track generating a string of photos along the way of the Kirby/Harrell car returning home forty-two years later.
Jim Kirby was not able to hook up with his old car at the event, so Bill stopped by Jim’s shop in Crystal City, MO on the way home. He rolled the car out of the trailer, put Kirby in the seat and lit it up on 90%! The smile on Jim’s face put the finishing touches on Bill’s expedition back in time with the old car. And after returning to Michigan, Bill says his family and crew are ready to do it again in 2011. They say KCIR is a cool place to be.Bill just reported that he had stepped the engine up to 95%. Pulde told him that the difference between 90% and 95% would be noticeable, and Pulde was right.