REMEMBERANCE: “240 GORDIE” BONIN
It’s never easy losing a friend or close acquaintance. We lost a really good friend on Friday, November 29, 2013, and one of Firebird’s most popular racers, Gordie Bonin. He was 65 years of age. For everyone who came to know him throughout better than four decades in the sport of Drag Racing, we are deeply saddened by the loss.
Looking back, Gordie was revered by Idaho racing fans. His knickname, “240 Gordie” was recognizable coast-to-coast, as Bonin consistently wheeled his Nitro Funny Car over the 240 mile per hour speed barrier. Equally, he was a contender at both the Ignitor and Nightfire throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Bonin won the final Nightfire 500 in 1980 (before the event name was changed to Nightfire Nationals the next year). He returned the following May for the AHRA Ignitor Nationals. In a landmark agreement between Bill New and AHRA president Jim Tice, the Ignitor would be the host site of the first and only 16-car field ever offered for the AA/Funny Car class in AHRA history. The event attracted the who’s who in the sport, including Prudhomme, Hoover, Densham, Zeigler, and many others. Bonin won the four-round race, defeating Henry Harrison in a 6.27 to 6.39. Bonin was also a Funny Car winner at the 1979 Ignitor NHRA World Championship Series meet at Firebird.
Bonin was most famous for his string of “Bubble Up” Funny Cars that he campaigned with noted crew chief Jerry Verheul and team owner Ron Hodson.
Bill and John New most recently crossed paths with Bonin in mid-October at the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield. His career started back in the early 70’s. He was inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame in 2000. One of the highlights to his illustrious career was a victory at the silver anniversary U.S. Nationals back in 1979. He was also a member (4th) of the Cragar 5-second club. For a six-year period, he worked in the NHRA marketing department after taking a sabbatical from driving. He returned to racing in the late 80’s, compiling nine national event victories.
Every member of the New family and staff are deeply saddened by the loss of an icon of Drag Racing. He touched many people in this sport. For all that he gave, we are indebted to his commitment, enthusiasm and zeal throughout all his years directed at our sport and life in general.
With that said, we’re most definitely going to miss “240 Gordie”.God speed.