Motorsports Industry, Open Wheels — March 17, 2018 at 4:47 pm

EARHoF 2018: Jim Oien

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Elma Hall of Fame (03-17-18) Jim Oien 4970

EARHoF inductee Jim Oien

By Andrew Kunas

This inductee had a driving career that spanned 15 years. He was contacted by a gentleman by the name of Dale Wade, who took him to the final race of the 1981 season at Elma. He decided he should get into racing and he built a car that winter.

He first raced in the hobby stock division in Elma, earning top rookie honors in 1982. After his first year in a hobby stock in ’82, he bought an old cop car from Mason County, minus the engine, and used that car for the 1983 season, which was a good one as he won the mid-season championship race and finished second in points. At one point he swept the program at Elma three weeks in a row, winning every time he was out on the race track. And this was back when the high points car started at the back of the field for the main event every week. That streak only ended when a block fell out of the car in front of him, damaging his own car and forcing him off.

He eventually put his No. 44 on a super stock in 1984. In 1985 and 1986 he was forced to scale his racing activities back when his job as a logger had him move to Clearwater.

Back racing more regularly by the 1990’s, he made another change as he got into the street stock division at Elma. In 1991 he found a good engine and put together a car in which he would have his finest seasons. That 1991 season saw him miss out on a championship by just ten points.

In 1992, he finally came through, capturing his first track championship at Elma in the street stock division. 1992 also was his most memorable season on a personal level as his son Jimmy also won a track championship at Elma, claiming the bomber division title that same season. He backed up that first title with one more in 1993, staying competitive against the likes of Robert Nutter and future open wheelers Dan West Jr. and Glenn Borden Jr. until he first hung up the fire suit in 1996. He did come back to wheel a modified a few times in 2006 before stopping for good.

In addition to racing at Elma he also visited some other Northwest race tracks, going up to Port Angeles often and a few times he headed across the mountains to race all the way over in Republic.

This inductee was known at “Gentleman” Jim because of his demeanor and easy going style. Despite his competitiveness on the track, he had the reputation as a clean racer and earned the respect of his fellow racers, earning three sportsmanship awards along the way. He and his wife Judy were also well involved with the EARA in the 1980’s and in 1984 he served as the president of the EARA.

Please join me in welcoming this 2018 inductee into the Elma Auto Racing Hall of Fame, “Gentleman” Jim Oien.

 

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