The Province of Saskatchewan’s Whitehead Racing team is a perfect testament to Canadian drag racing regional resiliency….
After setting a racing foundation at Manitoba’s Keystone Dragway and Saskatchewan’s Saskatoon International as for back as the 1970’s, the story of team patriarch Don Whitehead and including his son Glenn is producing new chapters.
Way back when, Don’s drag racing roots included a home-built A/Altered which he raced with partner Brian “Pete” Krusnowsky and crew members Dan Krunec, Cris “Tulip” Pynenburg. Fast forward to today — at 74 years old (!) Don’s passion and involvement in drag racing continues. During the 2015 season Don climbed back into the cockpit and re-upped his competition licence. He now drives the team’s expertly prepped alcohol burning Nostalgia front-motored dragster.
Don’s dragster is a 190 inch wheelbase car that was originally built in B.C. in 2013. It has a 400 CID Chevy small block with a supercharger (purchased from the late Bob Nagy) that produces 1400 HP. Don has taken a ride 7.16 secs at 189+ mph so far in that car.
Don’s influence on his son Glenn is also very apparent as Glenn is the driver of the team’s equally impressive Pontiac Firebird Nostalgia Funny Car — and the duo together do venture out for drag racing each season.
Glenn’s great looking Firebird (based from Warman SK) traces it’s history as far back as being the “Boston Strangler” chassis driven by New England’s Arnie Karp which the team acquired from Quebec-based racers Richard Mathieu and Gilles Daoust back in the mid 1990’s. With help beginning then from Pat Murphy, the team first learned the ropes for racing in the Top Alcohol category direct from Pat who came to Western Canada to help educate the team after the purchase.
Their Firebird (which is a 1977 body and which carries the moniker “Fast Company”) features a chassis by Chick Brignolo and a 540 CID KB Hemi that was updated by Ken Sitko and Dave Youngman. That car has enjoyed some good success including winning at the AHRA World Finals at Spokane in 2000 and running a best time of 6.10 secs at 226 mph.
Prior to racing the Funny Car, Glenn’s involvement in Western Canadian drag racing was very evident. After he began racing the family 1969 Camaro at Saskatoon in the High School and Street classes starting in 1986, in 1988 he and Don stepped up to a RE Dragster that competed in the S/C class. They raced that car from 1988 – 1993 all over the West (including at Saskatoon, Edmonton, Medicine Hat, Ashcroft, Brainerd and Calgary). With it they won several class championships at SIR and it was best known to racing fans because of it’s Milk sponsorship — appropriate because the family’s background does include dairy farming.
This close knit team is also very family orientated. Each of their racing weekends includes great involvement from family and friends – a fact which they are very proud of.
“When we go racing our schedule does revolve around the entire family,” Glenn affirmed. “School, sports and family commitments do dictate the schedule. My father Don has now retired to Chase BC with his wife Shirley so he is always travelling back and forth. Our daughter Emma is now a licensed 7.50 drive and our plans for 2017 include Emma making a few hits in our family’s FED. Also our youngest Daughter Madison and her co-pilot and Mom Angie were regular competitors at SIR in the Jr. Street Legal class.”
“Racing with Don’s and family involvement means everything to us,” Glenn added. “We had a nice highlight together last summer during the 50th Anniversary event at S.I.R. I got to race against Don at the biggest event in the history of that track. Both I and Don look forward to the day when we can line up next to daughters/grand daughters!”
The popular team features some valued sponsorship and important backing. That includes Reg Quiring of Q-Line Trucking, Vern and Jared Wasylyniuk of Outlaw Metal Fab, Bob Heroux from Lazer Autobody and graphic artist Bruce Williams (who is responsible for the cool Fast Company logo).
Away from the race track, Glenn is employed as a long haul trucker (for Q-Line Truckin) where he is a specialist for oversized and dimensional load transportation.
Glenn also wanted to emphasize another important historical happening for his race team that occured last season.
“The legendary name Pat Murphy keeps popping up,” Glenn explained. “First on the Boston Strangler crew, then with Daoust and Mathieu and then starting our team’s Funny Car career. We re-connected on Facebook and Don and I met Pat at the CHRR in Bakersfield. After visiting and story telling for days we made Pat an offer — come to Saskatoon and drive the same funny car he served as a crew and crew chief on. So in 2016 exactly 20 years later from his first visit, Pat did that — he made several laps down the SIR quarter mile. Joining Pat was longtime friend and well known East Coast driver Arnie Karp. To say that Pat, Arnie and their friends and family had a blast is putting it mildly!”
Posted with files by Murray McDonald and Bruce Biegler
Photos by Blair Alderton, Bruce Biegler & Courtesy of Whitehead Racing