1979 NHRA Top Fuel championship car not just a story anymore — it exists

Silverdale’s Rob Bruins and Bremerton’s Chris Horn are returning to the drag strip at Pacific Raceways (formerly Seattle International Raceway) in Kent this weekend along with the Top Fuel dragster that they helped to an NHRA championship in 1979.

Bruins drove the Gaines Markley-owned dragster and Horn, then 19, was the full-time mechanic for a team that shocked that drag racing world by winning a world championship without winning a national event.

Horn, now a Kitsap-based real estate broker, came across the car by accident on a motorcycle trip to Nevada in 1996. He bought it, later chased down the original Keith Black aluminum engine block and other parts. He sold it to the World Speed Museum in December of 2013, and the car is now restored and will be at the track this weekend.

Thirty-five years ago, I covered the Northwest Nationals and wrote a story about these guys. They lost in the first round that day, but that was not the norm. The car won every divisional race it entered, and reached the semis or finals in all of the other national events to secure the championship.

I don’t pretend to be a motorsports expert, but this is a cool story about a couple of local racers who did big things in the world of motorsports.

Rob Bruins, Dave Villwock, Ryan Villopoto. That’s some serious motorsports history that’s come out of Kitsap County.

Here’s the story about Bruins, Horn and the innovative car that changed the drag-racing landscape.

 

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