Hot RodAugust 2020

Behind the Wheel With NHRA Funny Car Champion “Fast Jack” Beckman
Douglas Glad

Despite hundreds of hours on television driving like a hero, catching fire, blowing up, then jumping out of a roof hatch for the interview, Jack Beckman is a regular guy with an amazing life story, and he’s just plain likable.

The story of “Fast Jack” and his El Camino goes back to his days as a baseball-playing, skateboarding, skinny kid from California’s San Fernando Valley in the early 1980s. Hooked on drag racing at age 7 while hanging on the fence at historic digs like Orange County International Raceway and later the high-desert LACR, Jack saw a fuzzy vision of what he could become. But first, he had to toil and suffer.

The 1968 El Camino came from Jack’s dad as a second-owner SS396 originally purchased at Rancho Chevrolet in Reseda, California. After high school, Jack joined the Air Force to serve as an avionics technician, dragging the car to Cannon AFB in Clovis, New Mexico. The closest track was in Colorado, so Jack would drive 500 miles each way to see the Mile High Nationals and sneak the El Camino out to Lubbock, Texas, for some 15-second runs.


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August 2020