Arend’s “War Eagle Weekend”

By:       Bruce Biegler

One of the cooler aspects with being a reputed Pro driver is that some unexpected opportunity can arise.   For favorite Canadian-son Jeff Arend, one such instance happened last weekend for the former Toronto resident who now lives in California……

During a somewhat rare weekend off from driving the NHRA Full Throttle circuit, Kalitta Racing DHL-sponsored Toyota FC, Arend had a stint behind the wheel of a nitro Nostalgia Funny Car.   Jeff subbed in for legendary driver Dale Pulde in Pulde’s 1977 “War Eagle” Trans-Am recreation.

Pulde, who has been under the weather lately, tapped Arend to drive his immaculate machine during the infamous March Meet at Bakersfield CA.  Unfortunately, that event was weather plagued and the completion has been deferred, following the first round of competition last Saturday.

Jeff Arend took the "War Eagle" Firebird for a ride last weekend

Arend who jumped into the car for the very first time on the Friday, ran a very impressive 5.824 secs at 237.96 mph to qualify 4th overall.  Then he won round one with a 5.899 secs at 230.65 mph.

“I actually first got a call towards the end of December from Dale to see if I was interested in driving the car at Bakersfield and Tucson,” Jeff stated.  “Because of my NHRA schedule it was difficult to commit — but things worked out for this event.”

Jeff Arend

“It’s the nicest Funny Car I’ve ever seen,” Arend continued.  “It’s like a show car with blue anodized everything.  It was also a lot of fun to drive.  It’s definitely louder and the motor zings up to 9500 RPM.  You shift it and run a full quarter-mile.  It was kind of like going back in time.”

While there are not any additional firm commitments at this point for a return engagement with Jeff driving – that does remain a possibility.

“I loved it and I told Dale if he needed me – I’d definitely fill in again!” Jeff added.

Arend’s participation at the March Meet enhanced an already very impressive line-up of Canadian drivers at the event.  If fact there was a total of five Canadian racers in the Nitro Nostalgia FC category, including Tim Boychuck and Tim Nemeth (who qualified 3rd and 7th respectively) and Claude LaVoie and Todd Lesenko who were DNQ.

(Bruce Biegler Photos)