We cannot help but admire the deep dedication to drag racing that lives and breathes in far north Alberta…..

Based from Grand Prairie Alberta — the Rutherford Racing Team — most certainly does exemplify the notion of “brand loyalty”. 

By taking forward the task that was first established by race team patriarch and his father Steve Rutherford — James Rutherford (and his wife Amber) have literally turned up the wick for Ford brand drag racing within Canada, fielding a very multi-dimensional and exclusively “Blue Oval” race car fleet.

Steve – Lincoln – Amber – James Rutherford

Our last check of that race team’s inventory (as of the summer of 2019) — listed the Rutherford Racing team with no less than five different Fords for drag racing.  That lineup includes a 1996 Probe Top Sportsman, a Super Pro ET 1991 Ford Mustang, a versatile 1966 Mustang that can run Nostalgia C/Gas and ET, an early ’80’s era Ford Fairmont ET car and a “as cool as it possibly be” supercharged 1300 HP 1949 Ford A/Gasser.  And oh yeah — they also have a Junior Dragster that son Lincoln drives. 

James Rutherford does fund his drag racing ventures from the benefits of his very successful self-owned company — ROIL Enterprises — who are specialists involved with cranes and modular construction.  

Arguably, the team’s primary race car is their highly competitive TS Probe with which James did finish 2nd within NHRA’s Lucas Oil Northwest Divisional points in 2017 and 4th in 2018.   That car (Jerry Haas built) which features a 632 Ford CID motor program by fellow Canadian Keith Korecki (KS Machine – Kelowna BC), is in fact a former IHRA Mountain Motor Pro Stocker – with which Michigan’s Chris Holbrook won the IHRA World title in 1999.  

James Rutherford’s Probe is one of NHRA’s Pacific Northwest Division’s most formidable TS class cars.

We were particularly impressed with the final finish and trim for the team’s stunning ’66 Mustang which is driven by Amber Rutherford.  That car, which James did in fact have a hand in the construction of back in the early 2000’s, was originally a ’64 model and he reacquired some years later from the Vancouver area.  Since then the Mustang has been massaged from an 11-secs car to a 9.50 secs capable car.

Amber Rutherford races this meticulous prepped Ford Mustang.

The Rutherford Racing’s 1991 Mustang also has quite the history.  It was first built in the 1990’s for Pro Street circuit racing and it did have a supercharged alcohol burning 351 CID Windsor Ford motor and a Lenco and ran in the 8.3 secs zone.   After sitting for about a decade — that Mustang was early last season converted for Super Pro/Super Street.   It now has a single 4-barrel motor and Powerglide transmission.

“We had some fun times racing that car,” James Rutherford admitted. “At first it was built for Canadian Pro Street Association rules and was right around the same time when Don Murray and Glen Baird were trying to run the first 7’s in the class.  We built it to compete for that — but fell just short of that — the car was just a bit too heavy.”

The Rutherford Racing ’91 Ford Mustang – past and present!

“I’ve been involved in drag racing since I was 12 years old,” James further reflected.  “My career has been in nothing but Ford cars and that influence most certainly did all come from my Dad.   His first car was a 1928 Model A small block Ford (which he traded his bicycle for).  But our family history goes even further.   In the 1970’s he built cars and raced with his brothers Dave and Gord when they had the “ol BukShy” Falcon and “ol Bukshy” Pinto.  So we’ve just carried forward that brand and family baton ever since.” 

From the Rutherford Racing Family Archives!

James’ Uncle Dave remains still as an active team driver today — behind the wheel of the team’s Super Pro Ford Fairmont.  

Dave Rutherford does a burnout in his vintage Ford Fairmont.

And there is most certainly no end in sight for this race team.  Pages still to be turned include Lincoln Rutherford who has already become a very accomplished Junior Dragster racer with 5 years of experience in that class and 6-year old daughter Oakley who is probably next in line for that car.  James and Amber’s 17-year old daughter MacKenzie, who just got her driver’s licence, and who won the “teen challenge” class at Prince George BC’s drag strip, will graduate into Street ET racing next season in (you guessed it) — another Ford!

Some grooming for the future — aka next in line!

The race team also does run sporadically too this supercharged 1300 HP ’49 Ford — it his a 4.125 bore 9.5 deck 351 Windsor block.

Post and photos by Bruce Biegler (+ Courtesy Rutherford Racing Archives)

For more information on ROIL – link to their official:  HERE