We all like underdog stories and for drag racing Canada’s Clif Bakx has been quietly and consistently delivering on that notion ….

Bakx, who is based from southern rural Manitoba, is a very quiet spoken and calculated individual.  The graduate of Mechanical Engineering from British Columbia’s BCIT is the kind of guy that has over many years managed to advance both his very successful business (TriStar Dairy Fabrication) as well as his ventures within drag racing though 100% determination and hard work.   

His series of injected nitro cars have reflected that.   His machines steadily rose to become some of the fastest and winning within NHRA’s Lucas Oil TAD class category.   But oddly and for whatever reason (quite possibly geographical) most of the personal recognition for Clif’s abilities remain in the shadows.

Towards the end of 2017 – Clif Bakx did make a somewhat vague attempt at retirement – personally citing the escalating costs associated with running in the class and with the fact his team is 100% self funded and independent.   But since then those initial plans have become — somewhat — of a grey area.  

Clif Bakx – owner of his Manitoba-based injected nitro car – is a self taught drag racing owner, tuner and crew chief.

It seems like some winds of change began to blow into his racing operation after the injection of a new driving talent (Todd Bruce) into his team equation.   That was later followed by some feisty event performances since – not the least of which was Todd winning at his very first NHRA national event at Dallas* (one year ago).

But don’t take it from us — instead —Todd Bruce elaborates for us.

“I met Clif a few years ago when he was running in our Midwest Wild Bunch group with a Top Dragster,” said Bruce (which resides in neighbouring North Dakota state).  “At one of those races he began to talk about building an A/Fuel car and trying that.  I told him right away that I’d like to be part of it – and I was as part of his crew.”

North Dakota’s Todd Bruce has very effectively taken over the controls of “The Bull”

Clif first started racing within the NHRA Lucas Oil divisional series in 2010 and it was soon thereafter he found his stride.   With super skilled Gord Gingles at the controls of his dragster, Clif’s independent team went on to win NHRA Lucas Oil Central Region titles in 2012 – 2013 and again in 2016.  They also had some big event scores — including winning at Brainerd’s Lucas Oil Nationals (in 2013).

Fast forward to mid 2017 and largely due to his ongoing dedication to the team Todd was then offered up a chance to drive the “The Bull”.   

“I got my licence and then a chance to drive the car for the first time in competition at a regional race in Iowa,” Bruce continued.  “But I made a couple of mistakes there and was a bit heartbroken because of it.  At that time Clif actually had the car up for sale – but he then decided to go out one more time — to give me a “redemption race” and that was the nationals at Dallas.  As as you know we made the very best of that opportunity.  We qualified #1 and mowed down the field winning it all outright.”

According to Todd that race event helped him to really fully appreciate the inherent skills of his team owner.

“I’ve seen the way Clif’s brain works,” he emphasized.  “His ability to figure and work things out for himself is truly remarkable.  He doesn’t get any of the credit he really deserves.  I’ve been around this sport enough to say with confidence that he is within the top five crew chiefs for this type of race car anywhere in the world – and all of that is self taught.   Remember — he has beaten Randy Meyer head to head 3X for NHRA regional titles — and I think that says an awful lot!”   

Todd confirmed that “officially” the race car operation does remains still up for sale but he also confided that he is covertly continuing to do his part to keep Clif inspired, motivated and involved.

“I’m just the driver and Clif has to shoulder the entire burden of owning and operating it all,” he added.  “I’ll aways be in debt for the opportunity he provided me in drag racing and I’m hopeful that he will decide to keep things going.  Simply put – he is way too talented to stop now and he absolutely belongs here.”

*Editor’s Note:  We can confirm that Clif Bakx’s race team is scheduled to return to the site of their biggest event score.  This coming weekend they will attempt to successfully defend their AAA Auto Club Texas Fall Nationals title at Dallas TX – and that’s no “Bull”. 

Post by Bruce Biegler — Photos by Bruce Biegler & Jim Kampmann