Jim Oddy along with driver Fred Hahn were among the pioneers of the Pro Mod class. Jim Oddy’s “Black Mariah” supercharged ‘Vette with Fred Hahn at the wheel made the first doorslammer pass in the 6.60 range. Team owner, tuner and engine builder Jim Oddy’s teams won national championships in every circuit that has ever run “Pro Mod” style cars including both the IHRA and NHRA. As a driver he twice won titles at the U.S. Nationals. His cars were always among the quickest and especially the fastest. Although he retired after the 2006 season, his car driven by Steve Bareman still holds the IHRA speed record for Pro Mods. Jeff Burk, DRO editor and PR rep for Oddy’s teams for 16 years, sat down and interviewed his old friend and former boss about his career, retirement and the Pro Mod class.
Why did you decide that it was time to call it a career at the end of the 2006 drag racing season?
Jim Oddy: You can tell when it is time to quit. I could no longer do the work it took to be prepared to win a race. My main crew, sons Dan and Dave are both married and Dan and his wife Kara were expecting a baby in February 2007. I felt it was time after 15 years on the road for the boys to have time to enjoy with their wives at home. Also, I wanted to spend some quality time with my wife, Charlene, at our new home in North Carolina.
Is there any job in drag racing that might lure you out of retirement and back to the track? If so, what would that job be?
JO: Right now I am burned out on drag racing and all of its politics. I see no job out there that I would want to do -- although I do miss a lot of the great people I met while racing.
Is there anything in the sport of drag racing that you would have liked to accomplish that you didn’t?
JO: As you know, I really had two careers in racing. I started in 1959 as a car builder and driver. Won Indy in 1965 with a homemade B/G Chevy-powered Anglia. In 1966 I built an AA/GS ‘48 Austin and toured the country with K.S. Pitman, Stone Woods & Cook, Jr. Thompson and Ohio George match racing. In 1969 I won the Division 1 points championship and was voted Division 1 Driver and Mechanic of the Year. In 1972 I won the Indy Super Eliminator with a Hemi-powered Opel GT. In 1974 I again won the Division 1 points championship with a BB/A Fiat Coupe. When my twin boys were born in 1977 I quit racing to open my engine building business and spend time with my boys.
I got interested in drag racing again, when they started the Quick 8 doorslammer racing with very few rules. We built a Corvette in 1989 that ran 6.69 at 208 mph and that changed the rules forever. We also won championships in Super Chevy, Super Chevy Nitro, IHRA Pro Mod and NHRA Pro Mod.
So, as you can see, there isn’t anything that we would have liked to accomplish that we didn’t.