One of the most famous and iconic monikers from within the halls of Canadian drag racing history has re-emerged….

The definition for the word “phoenix” (which is associated with the meanings “rising with renewed life  through another cycle”) seems very apt right now for the formidable Hodgson/Papirnick Racing nostalgia nitro Funny Car team – based from Edmonton.

During the just past 2016 drag racing season, and following the migration of some previous sponsorship, this dynamic drag racing team has returned to it’s roots somewhat. Taking a page from their very deeply entrenched and historical origins, the team has chosen to again adopt and incorporate the infamous in Canadian drag racing Pacemaker” name.


The very stealth like Victory-Race Cars built Pacemaker Camaro finished 2nd in NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series points during 2016.

Pacemaker Automotive was a legendary chain of speed shops that were very known within Western Canada, first established by team patriarch Ron Hodgson during the 1960’s. It was from those facilities (originally located in Edmonton, Calgary and Saskatoon) that Ron (who has been inducted into both the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame and Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame) launched forth his first of many drag racing ventures. Over the years that included associations and sponsorships for some of the earliest and best known machines and men in the business (names like Gordon Jenner, Jerry Verhual, Gordie Bonin, Gary Beck, Donny Couch, Ed McCulloch, Terry Capp, Bob Papirnick) who all went on to become iconic within the sport of drag racing.

Ron Hodgson

Ron Hodgson

So it was from that deep well of DNA that the team during 2016 decided to “rekindle and honour it’s identity” according to Ron’s son Ryan Hodgson, now the team driver.

“We’re happy to put the Pacemaker name prominently back on the race car,” said Ryan. “I grew up around that name and for sure all that history has a place in our hearts. Some of my earliest memories are of Gordie Bonin and the yellow and black Pacemaker Vega – which was put together in my Grandad’s garage with Bob (Papirnick) and Gordon (Jenner).”

The Pacemaker Chevy Vega was arguably Canada's most famous FC from the early era (Bill Ott Photo)

The Pacemaker/Royal Canadian Chevy Vega was arguably Canada’s most famous FC from the early era (Bill Ott Photo)

“We recognize that Pacemaker is an iconic name for Canadian drag racing and I think it’s both cool and fitting to bring it back.” he added.

Ryan Hodgson

Ryan Hodgson

During this just past 2016 season, the Hodgson-Papirnick Racing/Pacemaker Camaro Funny Car team did enjoy a fruitful campaign, which was in fact sophomore career year #2 for Ryan as team driver.

That included an overall 2nd place points finish in the 2016 title chase for NHRA’s Hot Rod Heritage Series behind only Kris Krabill. That placing came despite not running the full Hot Rod Heritage Series season schedule of races.

While a pre-season sponsorship renewal setback was rather unexpected for them, they soon rebounded and were able to forge forward with the introduction of some new names to an already highly valued list of associate partners on the race team. Two of those very strategic season add-ons included highly innovative companies; Oceanus Resources and Yeti Snowmax.


“Adding new sponsors is crucial and exciting for our future,” Ryan continued. “Dave Duncan is the VP Exploration for Oceanus Resources.   We are helping him expand investment awareness for their cutting edge mining operations in Mexico. Yeti Snowmx — is a company owned by my brother Jamie (from Edmonton) which designs and builds track machines for motorcycles. Those give motorcycle riders more options to use their machines all season and also allows them go many places they could not before.”


Buoyed by that new backing involvement, 2016 played out as a character building racing season – which also included for the team running their fastest ever terminal speed (261.42 mph during the California Hot Rod Reunion).  With all that — Ryan reports that his team is thus highly optimistic for the future.

“We have a great crew of very committed people that all get along and that make good decisions,” he added. “With our new sponsors we have a new beginning.  We’re working on our plan now — we all want to chase the 2017 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series World title.  We want that “buckle” and those bragging rites.”

For more information on Oceanus Resources click: HERE
For more information on Yeti Snowmx revolutionary products click: HERE


Post and photos by Bruce Biegler