Jim Fife Memorial meeting at Bondangora Airstrip

The second Jim Fife Memorial is ready to rock, 3 September

Photographers: Peter Bateman

Dubbo City Car Club is holding their second Jim Fife Memorial meeting on Fathers Day, Sunday 3 September at Bodangora Airstrip.

It will be a great day of DYO racing over the eigth-mile to pay tribute a man who was pivotal in the founding and operation of the club for over 30 years.

If you’ve never raced at Bodongara, it is a great facility, run by some awesome people. Entry is online only, here.

And if you’re keen to make a weekend of it, Dubbo Motorfest will be held the day before at Dubbo Showgrounds. This event will combine a show and shine for cars and bikes, with live music, freestyle motorcross, a swap meet and more. More info here.

The story to here, 3 Feb 2022:

Tributes are flowing for veteran drag racer and club stalwart Jim Fife, who passed away on the weekend.

Jim was a key figure of the Dubbo City Car Club since its inception. He spent 30 years on the club’s committee, primarily as secretary, and organised countless race meets, shows and burnout events, spearheading the ongoing fight for a permanent dragstrip in Dubbo. Jim was instrumental in bringing drag racing to the Bodangora airstrip in the late 1980s.

In his younger years, Jim was an accomplished drag racer behind the wheel of his Brambles Red XW GTHO Phase II. “Cars were a way of life for Jim, and Ford blue blood surely ran in his veins,” writes longtime mate Craig Leven.

He bought the GTHO on finance in 1970, aged 29. He’d previously raced a Hemi-powered ’59 Fairlane and toyed with the idea of building a turbocharged, 289-powered XM Falcon coupe, but decided to go with a brand-new, race-ready hot rod instead.

Taking delivery of the GTHO from Alto Ford, Jim had a Sig Erson cam and custom extractors fitted to the 351 Clevo, then bolting up a tunnel ram and Holley 850 carb as AHRF rules relaxed.

Jim debuted the Falcon at the Mr Ford meeting at Castlereagh in 1970, reaching the semi-final against the legendary Larry Ormsby before red-lighting. Fife successfully campaigned the car at Castlereagh and beyond until 1972, when it was returned to stock and sold off.

Jim had an extended tenure as a NSW TAFE teacher, earning a reputation as a favourite mentor among car-mad apprentice mechanics. He recently built a turbo Barra-powered LandCruiser with a group of students, dubbed ‘Bruiser’.

Tom Sethack, owner-operator of Mudgee’s One Point Automotive, met Jim while studying at TAFE, and the two quickly became good mates. “I used to sit in class awestruck listening to Jim’s stories as he got sidetracked from the sometimes-mundane theory at TAFE, and told us about the days of drag racing his GTHO and his legendary and pioneering achievements,” Tom says.

“Years later when I went on to start my own shop, I reached out to Jim to help me with a XD Falcon that had come in for a dyno tune-up. I really had no idea with carbies, but Jim tuned the old XD from 80hp to 160hp — the owner couldn’t believe it. From there, the legend of Jim’s magical touch spread quickly and he was booked out weeks ahead at a time.”

According to Jim’s many mates, he was busy until the very end, even lending a hand with his local Cumboogle RFS unit. “Jim was always the first to put his hand up to do his bit,” says Craig, “and often did far more than his fair share.”