Gordie Bonin….Time Traveler….

By:       Bruce Biegler

During Edmonton’s IHRA River Cree Rocky Mountain Nationals, an interesting event sidebar was along the event’s manufacturer’s midway.   Nestled within one of the many displays (Taggz/Quick Times) was an important re-creation of a car which helped to propel the racing career of Canada’s very own legend, Gordie Bonin.

Red Deer Alberta’s Harold Fjallman is behind the project, a replica of a Junior Fuel dragster which was around during the early 1970’s.   Fjallman along with his racing partner of the time Ted Sinclair built the original machine which was in fact the very first “nitro” ride for Bonin.    

Harold & Gordie


“I drove the car between about 1969-71,” confirmed “240 Gordie” who was on hand at the display and signing autographs.  “It was in fact my first dragster and this car helped to provide a key moment within my drag racing career.   In fact Gordon Jenner watched me race it.  I think he liked what he saw because after he and Ron Hodgson built the first Pacemaker Funny Car back in 1972, it was probably the reason I got the call to drive that.”

 Although the car is not the original piece, Fjallman went to great lengths to create as much of a duplicate as he could.  Using just photographs and an old book of specs, the  car was built very period correct right down to the Hilborn-injected .40 over 327 CID Chevy engine, powder coated chassis and paint and lettering.

“The only difference is that because I’m not 115 lbs anymore – the top frame rail is stretched out a few more inches,” Bonin quipped.  “I like to think of it now as more relax fit Levis.” 

Bonin goes back in time...

Harold and Gordie did in fact display the car during the Race City event in Calgary the week before Edmonton.   They did “cackle” the car both weekends which Bonin admitted brought back both fond memories as well as tears to his eyes.

 “Back when we raced the original we went almost 200 mph with it,” Gordie added.   “There really wasn’t much for rules back then.  Sitting in the car now reminds me of just how crazy that was!”

Future plans are to install a steel bell-housing for safety so the car can do the occasional burnout.  There is also a strong likelihood that the car will be at the Bakersfield Hot Rod Reunion in the fall.

 (Bruce Biegler Photos)