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Oklahoma Man Celebrates More Than 50 Years In Drag Racing

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Jim is 77 and has been racing on the professional NHRA circuit for 55 years. Jim is 77 and has been racing on the professional NHRA circuit for 55 years.
LEXINGTON, Oklahoma -

To many, he's known as the Dale Earnhardt of Oklahoma. He's been bringing home the checkered flag for more than five decades.

“It’s been in my blood my whole life. It’s fun and games.”

Hands of precision, bracing speeds of 140, Drag racer Jim Hale lives an adrenaline-filled life.

Jim is 77 and has been racing on the professional NHRA circuit for 55 years.

“I had some friends down the road that had a Ford tractor. They would ride on the hood and could pull the governor and out run me so, I put string on the governor of my old Moline, so I could pull my governor and out run them,” said Jim.

He eventually graduated from tractors along the Canadian River bottoms in Pittsburg County, to street car races. Chrysler signed him on to build and race for them. And that was just the beginning of a successful independent racing career. With his wife Mary as his pit crew, they travel the country - winning.

“Most racers buy their engines or buy their car, and I’m a hands-on guy. I build engines, I build cars, and I race them myself. That gives me, I think, an advantage over knowing the car and knowing the engine,” said Jim.

On this day, he had the fastest qualifying car in his class, beating out many other, younger competitors. He was the fastest carbureted car at Indy just a couple weeks before.

If you know drag racing, you know what a "Wally" is. He won one of those at age 69, accepting it in his signature overalls under his flame retardant jumpsuit

“I’ve got so many other things I want to do, I’m trying to quit. But, it’s hard to quit when you’ve got the equipment, the shop, and a car like this.”

And that's why it's anyone's guess as to when exactly Jim will stop racing. Throughout his 50-plus years of drag racing, he was never a professional racer. Rather, he was a successful businessman in construction. It turns out that was easier to retire from than racing.

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