It’s quickly become both one of our favourites and also one of the most popular cars within Western Canada’s drag racing scene…

Jim Fersch, who is the President of the Big West Dodge dealership (located in Drayton Valley Alberta), has over the past few season’s been treating Western Funny Car fans to something special. He and his partner Jo-ann have been campaigning one of the prettiest looking, most well thought out and well prepped Nostalgia-bodied Funny Cars ever to be based from Canada.

Jim Fresch & Jo-ann “Jo” Cloutier

With his background with his highly successful car dealership (which sells Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram) it’s only natural that Jim’s machine would be a Mopar. And this ’71 Barracuda is certainly all of that.

Jim and Joanne’s Barracuda has a meticulous, period correct and factory look to it – closely resembling the infamous 1970-71 model supercars which Plymouth proudly produced during that time period.

“Being a Chrysler Dealer – there really was only one choice for us getting into this,” Jim admitted. “One of our friends (Randy Parker) had access to a Barracuda mold and that proved to be a perfect fit. Joey Steckler (Joey’s Place – Edmonton) did an amazing job with the paint, stripes and including Hemi factory motif. We wanted that (from the factory) look and that’s exactly what we achieved.”

This expertly constructed Parker Race Cars-built Barracuda features a stunning factory feel final finish from Joey’s Place

Drag Racing is in fact a major change in direction for Fersch who previously was a Professional steer wrestler (“bulldogger”) within Western rodeo circuits — thus the origin for the name of his car; “The Bulldogger”.

“I come from a rodeo background – I did steer wresting and bulldogging for most of my life,” Jim continued. “But when I retired from that I soon found out I needed a new adrenaline rush. About 6 years ago I attended some drag races and was offered a ride in a two-seat dragster (at Castrol Raceway). Well that had a definite affect on me — it seems this addiction started right there! That lead to Randy Parker building us a chassis and mounted the body and Joey Steckler finishing it. We have been moving forward from there.”

Jim’s primary focus up to this point has been within the various circuits that offer more affordable but also highly competitive index racing for nostalgia Funny Car type machines — like the Rocky Mountain Nostalgia Funny Car group and the IBAA. He can tune his Barracuda to run 6.80 – 6.95 or 7.0 (seconds) indexes – depending on the particular race track venues.

During 2016 Jim did introduce a new motor program to his racing equation after hooking up with Eastern Canadian Pro Mod class star, Bruce Boland (from Hamilton). Jim installed an alcohol burning 528 CID Hemi which is equipped with a 14-71 supercharger which he acquired from Bruce.

“That turned out to be a very nice move for us — that motor is a real animal,” Jim exclaimed. “It makes so much power it’s actually been easier to tune and maintain. Because it’s so efficient, we can hit the indexes we need — running it at only about 70% of it’s capacity. Sometimes it feels like we are just idling it! (he laughed).”

Jim and Jo-ann have also benefited from some great advice too while moving along their racing journey so far. That includes the involvement of John Evanchuk, one of Canada’s most proven and successful TAFC racers. John has acted both as a consultant and tuner for the team.

“The Bulldogger” shown in action at Bakersfield’s California Hot Rod Reunion – last October

“John really helped us get a handle on things,” he added. “This is now a real bracket car – which obviously is very important within the category we run.”

Jim and Jo-ann use their class act race car to market and draw very positive attention to their Big West Dodge Dealership which has been family owned for over 20 years. They plan to again be highly active within Western drag racing circuits in 2017.


Post and photos by Bruce Biegler