“Animal Jim” Feurer
by Paige Teel
“Racing with ‘The Animal’ was the best time of my racing career!” This is the way Animal Jim describes his racing years with his 1957 Mercury ‘The Animal.’ That is the mind-set that helped Animal Jim get to where he is today. Instead of dwelling on the obstacles and hardships we all need to look ahead and only look back long enough to learn from our mistakes. That is the key to Animal Jim’s success. When he thinks about his racing career, the moments of staging, the tree coming down, the smell of burning rubber, the sound of loud engines and the win lights are all the best parts of racing.
We will have times when we feel defeated. We will have times when we feel lost. We will have times when we believe that things will never get better. Why should we let that stop us? We can be or do anything that we want. So don’t let anything stand in your way. Animal Jim not only showed us that if you keep trying and never give up things are bound to get better. He also showed us that it does not matter what others think of you as long as you are true to yourself. Jim Feurer, mostly known as “Animal Jim” pursued his goals and made them happen on his own terms. Although he did receive some help from others he often had to push on, pursuing the dreams he would then make into realities.
“Animal Jim” is an unforgettable guy who has made a lasting name for himself in the sport of drag racing. He always remained true to his fan base and always tried to give fans a show. From his wild hair and crazy outfits to the signature hot pink sunglasses, people looked forward to watching him. He showed everyone how to pursue your goals while remaining true to yourself. Jim enjoyed the show as much as the people enjoyed him. Promoters liked to hire him to match race because he was dependable, had equipment that worked and knew how to entertain.
Many people refer to Jim or his 1957 Mercury as “Animal” or “The Big Animal.” Surprisingly, nicknames on race cars back then were nothing like nicknames are now. Back then your nickname or your car’s nickname could define who you were. It represented your car, your hobbies and if you were a crowd favorite. It could stick with you decades later and even into history.
Jim had a black, 1963, 427 Mercury that he often street raced. As Jim’s buddy, taking a ride in the car with him declared, “Man… this Mercury comes out of the hole like a big animal!” When it was time for Jim to name his first race car, 1957 Mercury, he realized that he should call it “The Big Animal!” So that’s exactly what he did, painting it in large black and white letters. As others became familiar with the car and the name they began calling him “Animal Jim.” Later it was a common sight to see Jim at the races with bright pink sunglasses and other attire suitable for his nickname.
Jim grew up in Peru, Illinois with his older brother, Raymond, who he called “Sonny.” Jim owes his intricate fascination for automobiles to Sonny. It is amazing how strong Jim’s bond is for drag racing considering he and his brother were the only racers in the family.
While other racers yearned for the fastest cars and probably believed that if they did not have one, then they needed to go buy another. Jim stayed with Fords and Mercury’s. It wasn’t because he was prejudiced against other brands, but mostly he raced those because they were the cars he had. He made do out of whatever he was able to get and was a talented mechanic. Sure, he wanted to go fast - that is a want for almost all racers - but he also treasured the experience that every car gave him as he made a pass down the track; every time bringing a new urge of emotion!
The “Animal” made its initial appearance on July 20, 1969. The same day as Americans took the first step on the moon. Is it a coincidence? Well, I can say it definitely made Jim’s debut of the “Animal” even more eventful and unforgettable. As animaljimracing.com stated, the moon landing was “…a giant step for mankind and Jim Feurer!” Instead of leaving footprints on the moon, Jim left his on drag racing history!
The Big Animal at MAR - Hirst photo
There will be times when there is a bump in the road. You cannot let that tear you down. Through all the obstacles and hardships Jim never gave up his creative spirit. Sometimes we like to pretend that we live in a world of fantasy. Not everything will always go our way and we will have times when we regret decisions that we have made.
Continued on next page...
<<<PREVIOUS PAGE NEXT PAGE>>>