Forward by Don Ewald: The older we get the better we understand the Circle of Life. We don't like it but we know that's just how things work. Another downside of aging is the older you get the more family and friends you lose. Some of those losses, especially family, cut deep and then there are those who are part of our extended family - in our case, drag racing.

With that thought in mind, the passing of James Warren left a huge hole in our family... it cut deep. The most common response on hearing the news was, "I'm stunned". That was certainly my first thought. We knew he had a medical condition but did not know how bad it really was. Like someone said after his passing, "Roger has the car ready and needs his driver". I would like to think that is true.

There is one common thread when it comes to The Ridge Route Terrors - everyone who ever met them, raced them or read about them will say they were a "class act".

I not only had the pleasure of knowing Roger and James but racing them as well. When you staged with James you knew two things... he did not play games and more often than not beat you. He was as level as it gets. If he won or lost, at the end of the day he was the same guy.

Neither James or Roger wasted words. Both were soft spoken and not much for idle chatter. Thanks in part to the third "terror", Marvin Miller, these guys did their talking on the track. The team of Warren-Coburn-Miller have left the building but as long as drag racing history is maintained and carried on they will never be forgotten.

Some History: WCM was comprised of driver James Warren, tuner Roger Coburn, and later sponsor and partner Marvin Miller. In the mid-60’s Miller, vice-president of the irrigation company, "Rain for Rent", made the decision to become involved in drag racing after he made a few trips to the famed Famoso track. He was bitten by the drag racing bug and started his search for a way to become involved. It didn’t take long for him to come to the decision that where better to invest his money than with fellow Bakersfield racers Warren and Coburn. So the Warren, Coburn and Miller team was born with ever familiar "Ran for Rent" sponsorship painted on their great looking dragsters.

They all hailed from Bakersfield, and had to make a three-hour tow over the San Gabriel Mountains on Highway 99 -- the famed Ridge Route -- to reach the mecca of Southern California dragstrips, which earned them the nickname "The Ridge Route Terrors." There are stories of other teams having spotters stationed at the end of the route to see which freeway the Terrors would take and what their destination might be so that the other teams could quickly head off to a different track, as far away from them as possible. No joke.

Warren originally had been a dirt track racer, and initially met the drag racing-oriented Coburn through Coburn's brother, with whom he had served in the armed forces, and in 1958 they had partnered and switched to the dragstrip with a twin-engine gas dragster. They ran in Top Fuel from 1964 through 1980, always with Coburn on wrenches, first with supercharged small-block Chevy engines then early Hemis and finally late-model Hemis. Miller owned the irrigation company Rain For Rent, which supplied Bakersfield farmers with portable water solutions, and became the team's major sponsor for years.

Warren, who was voted No. 38 on NHRA's list of Top 50 racers in 2001, was quick to credit his partner's role in his many successes. "I had a good car. We were a team for so many years that we knew what to do for each other. I knew what I needed, and Roger knew how to tune the car the way I liked to drive it. It just seemed like there was a combination there."

After a runner-up at the 1967 Nationals -- to Don Garlits, who famously shaved off his beard after winning – the team won their first of two NHRA national events the 1968 Winternationals, and also set low e.t. and top speed, 6.86 at 230 mph, in the first round. They also finished second that year in the Professional Dragster Association series behind Garlits.

Warren and Coburn were Division 7 Top Fuel champion five straight years, 1972 to 1976, and the Ridge Route Terrors were never tougher than at their hometrack, where they won the famed U.S. Fuel and Gas Championships three straight years, 1975-1977. The 1976 season was among their best. They opened with a runner-up at the Winternationals, won the Phoenix Winter Classic as one of only two cars in the fives, won an East/West race at Orange County Int'l Raceway, the U.S. Fuel and Gas title, and the Gatornationals, and finished fifth in NHRA points.

By 1979 James had grown tired of the constant thrash and expense to stay competitive as well as all the travel involved. So, along with the loss of Marvin Millers financial backing, James called it quits. This move was not only regretted by their many Bakersfield fans but by fans across California and the nation.

Coburn continued to race the car with Mark Prudhomme in the seat but the magic that existed between him and James wasn’t there and he was never again successful, and by 1983 he too retired from racing.

Both James Warren and Roger Coburn have been inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in Ocala, FL in recent years in recognition of their many accomplishments. James was inducted in 1992 as part of the first group of inductees and Roger followed a couple years later. As always the Bakersfield clan was there to back then up with a large group of them making the trip across the country to be on hand for the induction. They have also both been honorees at the California Hot Rod Reunion as well.

Photos new and old by Jere Alhadeff, Jim Kelly, Jim Phillipson, John Ewald, Bob Brown, Larry Solger, Barry Wiggins, Dave Kommel, Gary Edwards, Steve Gibbs, Jon Asher and Doug Peterson




Honoring James is easy. Choosing a few of photos to depict his career is not. There are well over 100 WCM shots on alone. So here's my attempt to share at least a short view, in photos, of a fabled career. Many thanks to the photographers who supplied them - you know who you are.


Warren & Coburn 1st dragster in 1960. James, with his superb driving abilities and Roger with his outstanding mechanical abilities had been a team to reckon with since teaming up on a twin engine dragster in 1958. The car, sponsored by Bob’s Muffler in Bakersfield ran the unusual combo of one Chrysler and one Chevy with an aluminum chassis. They relied on gasoline to push it down the ¼ mile and were a consistent threat to win anywhere they ran. It was RU at the March Meet in either ’59 or ’60.


James at Santa Maria in 1963. After the twin, the team started out using single small block chevies for power.



In late 1964 James and Roger teamed up with Chuck Holloway, it was then on to a 327 Chevy powered fueler, known to everyone as the ‘Blue Car" that quite often out ran the big Chryslers. At the first UDRA Championship Top Fuel Show held at Lion’s Dragway on February 1, 1964 they qualified #16 at 8.01 @ 185.18. On Sunday, February 2, the second day of the event, they qualified #5 running 8.17 @ 182.03 and went to the finals against Gary Gabelich but a broken rocker arm cost them the win.


Warren-Coburn-Holloway at Pomona in 1964.


The 1964 Warren-Coburn-Warren (Ken) car also had the little chevy for power to start but went to hemi power in 1965




Pomona 1965


A picture outside of Doris Herbert's "Drag News", August 1965.
L to R: J.T. May, Roger Coburn, Dale Jones and James Warren


1968 Winternationals - Warren (sans nose piece) wins a tight one over "Crossley & Beebe" 6.87 at 230.76.


This is a great staged shot of arguably the winningest fuel dragster team of the 1960's. From left to right the late Roger Coburn, the late Marvin Miller and super-shoe -- the late James Warren. This was taken in front of the then state-of-the-art tower of Orange County International Raceway in 1968.


James at Lions in early 1969. The WCM guys loved "The Beach" and their many wins there were no surprise.




Later in 1969 Miller wanted to put a nose piece on the car and so it was seen here at Lions.


Pomona 1969



James being push started down the Dallas fire-up road in 1969. Roger was always driving the push car.

The complete history, including the restoration of the "orange car" is at:
WCM on


OCIR, 1969




The first Warren & Coburn RED in 1972. This Woody car was no beauty but fit right into their budget. Soon after Marv Miller infused them and the full body was added.



Roger, James and the late Steve Evans in the mid 70s.


James under cloudy skies at the 1973 Winternationals.


James at the 1973 U.S. Nationals at Indy.



They did have a problem or three along the way like this fireball at Tulsa.


Bakersfield 1975 - the first of 3 back-to-back March Meet wins.



NHRA Winternationals 1976. The car would maintain this paint scheme until James retired in 1979.


Englishtown, New Jersey in 1976.


Arguably the most famous photo of Warren & Coburn was this jewel shot by Jon Asher in 1975. Taken in Roger's garage where the team was based their whole caree. This says volumes about how down to earth these guys were. There is a huge blow-up of this on the wall at the NHRA Motorsporst Museum.




After retirement James stayed somewhat under the radar but with the advent of nostalgia events like the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion he finally came out to play... and we're so glad he did.


Wayne King, James and Tom Jobe at the 2009 CHRR.


At the 2010 CHRR James took a trip down memory lane in the restored "Orange Car" belonging to Mike Abby.



James was on hand for the 50th Winternationals in 2010.


It was the last time he ever did a push start and the fans loved it.



James and long time friend Mike Kuhl.


Mousie Marcellis, Don Garlits, James, Tony Waters and Tim Marshall. There is a ton of drag racing history in this shot!








On May 21st James was laid to rest at at Hillcrest Memorial Park in Bakersfield. . It would go without saying that the turn out for the service was loaded with family and drag racing friends. Without any ado, here are some photos.



Bob Muravez signing the guest register with Steve Gibbs next.


LtoR - Tom Jobe, Harry Hibler, John Ewald, Roland Leong, Marvin Graham, Suzy Sue, Ed Pink, Bob Muravez, Gordy Gibbs.


The restored Warren, Coburn & Miller RED, owned by Frank Hinmon was on display along with some current WCM tribute cars.






Harry Hibler, Ed Pink, Gordy Gibbs and Bob Muravez


Suzy Sue, Marvin Graham, Harry Hibler, Steve Gibbs, Ed Pink and Roland Leong.


Danny Broussard, John Edmunds, Don Prieto








Dale "Baby Huey" Jones who was part of the WCM team for many years.


The legendary Tony Waters - another Bakersfield hero.


Original Smoker Hut Watkins with Dorothy Mooneyham


Jeff and Mike Miller - sons of Marvin Miller



Mike Griffith - Writer for Bakersfield Californian daily newspaper - A great friend to drag racers. Every city should be so lucky to have a supporting sportswriter.



Warren, Coburn & Miller FED poised at the curb just down from the grace site with John Ewald, Gary Ritter, and Marvin Graham.




Mike Aaby who now owns the restored WCM car.
















As the service came to an end the WCM car was ready to fire up.




Gary Ritter lit 'er up and then all the guys just walked away letting the engine run until it ran out of fuel.




The car became the focal point of many after the service ended.




Needless to say, this tribute could go on for pages as that’s the photos and stories about the Ridge Route Terrors could be made into a book and that job is too big for me. So, with his permission, I'll share some thoughts from Phil Burgess and friends that appeared on his NHRA National Dragster Blog. Other fans are welcome to share their thoughts and feeling here where they will stay for a very long time.

Posted by: Phil Burgess

As expected, the news of the passing of Top Fuel hero James Warren brought forth a sea of sorrow and a wave of nostalgia as fans and friends remembered the West Coast giant and mourned his passing.

A few times over the last couple of months, my sorrow and frustration at these losses and the ones that are sure to come keeps bubbling over and expressing itself in weird ways, as in the ending to Tuesday's column: "This sucks," I less than eloquently wrote.

Thank goodness then for readers like Charles Arford, who more beautifully stated what I think is on the minds and in the hearts of many of us and why it's so hard to see these legends leave us.

To Phil Burgess from Charles Arford, "I haven’t written to you in a while, but with the news I read today, I feel compelled because this has been on the back of my mind for quite some time now," he wrote. "We’re seeing a changing of the guard happening right before our eyes. I think we all knew these days would come, but I think we all just don’t want to admit it to ourselves that these days are here. Yes it is sad, but what a treat it was to have been at places like OCIR, Irwindale, Bakersfield, and Lions, to just name a few tracks, and watch these guys not only run but change the face of drag racing forever and set the standard for which all racers to come would have to live up to.

"It was a great time in our sport. No big corporate sponsors. No huge budgets. No multicar teams with crew chiefs and tons of guys to do the work for the drivers. We just knew the cars by their drivers or names on the side of the cars like Rain for Rent, Blue Max, Jungle Jim, Rambunctious, Brute Force, Stardust, and so on. All of these guys were their own crew chiefs, mechanics, and drivers, but more importantly, they were innovators, trying new and different things, and that’s why not every car looked the same. It was a great time to be here in SoCal, and sometimes I daydream and wish I could turn back the clock to watch these guys make one more run. Yeah, it sucks!"



Mark Watkins offered a simpler take and posed an interesting question: "You have to wonder if a fuel team that had WCM's charisma and racer-to-the-core mentality could be successful today. I am dying to be a fan of a team of bare-knuckle racers again."

As hard as it may be to believe, I never even met James Warren. He was out of the cockpit before I became an insider, and I never caught up with him at the reunion or the March Meet to thank him for the memories, but a lot of you definitely knew or had met the man, and the impression he left upon you is about what I'd imagine.



Cindy Gibbs, who grew up around the heroes of our sport, was among the first to write. "I know these losses are never easy, but this one truly breaks my heart. I loved James so much; he was so sweet and kind and such a dear, dear friend. Watching him deteriorate this past year was so hard; I spoke with him a few months ago, and at first, he didn't even know me. After a few seconds, he 'woke up,' and I knew he was present. He and I used to sit and talk for hours; I loved his mild manner and was always struck by the fact that this was by far one of the most bad-ass Top Fuel drivers EVER, and yet his demeanor would never, ever tell you that. When Roger [Coburn] died, I was afraid James would be not far behind. At least they are back together now."

Cindy's dad, Steve, known far and wide to everyone who reads this column, also weighed in. "At a time when the passing of old friends has become frequent, I have become more and more accepting -- and hardened to the reality - that this is simply the way it is. When I heard of James’ death, however, it floored me. It has been my good fortune to have been involved with the greatest names in drag racing for over 50 years, and I can honestly say that James Warren was as good as there ever was … both personally and professionally. I will miss him immensely … as I do Roger and Marvin. The Ridge Route Terrors have left us with a legacy and a treasury of memories, for which I will be forever grateful."



Pat "Ma" Green, SoCal drag racing's well-loved "den mother," knew Warren well from her time helping run some of SoCal's great strips. "When I think of James, I think of a classy, humble man who never changed over the years," she said. "When I was doing credentials at Irwindale in the '70s, he and Roger would come up and let me know their wives would be coming later, and could they BUY some extra tickets -- they NEVER asked for freebies; I always GAVE them the extra tickets. They were the ONLY racers who ever did that! They are both sorely missed."



Vic Morse, who became better known later in his career as the driver of the Mister T Corvette Funny Car, was one of many Top Fuel drivers who feared the orange machine and shared this humorous tale. "In 1968 at the Fremont PDA meet, I was driving for Specialty Automotive out of Eugene, Ore.," he recalled. "We made it through the first round due to Bill Dunlap crashing and drew Warren and Coburn in the second round. As I was making the turnaround after push-start, the main steering tie rod end snapped. We had to shut off. Thank goodness, I avoided the humiliation of getting my ass whipped by the ironic James Warren. There is no replacement for these supermen of drag racing."



I wasn't at all surprised to hear from Cliff Morgan, one of SoCal's veteran racegoers and a regular column contributor. "I was saddened by the death of James Warren," he wrote. "I have a lot of memories of that team.

One that sticks out was at Irwindale in the early '70s, at one of the Division 7 points races (when they used to run Top Fuel and Funny Car). They had qualified well as usual, and James was lying on top of the trailer and watching qualifying from the pits. It was like 'Who is gonna be runner-up to these guys?' They won the race, and James ran a 5.99 to win, which was a big deal at the time, especially at Irwindale. I also remember that James drove a real short small-block Chevy rear-engine car in the late '50s that didn't go too straight. Sigh. RIP, James."



Talk about a brush with greatness. Few stories could top this one from reader Marc Holmes: "When I was a youngster, I used to hitchhike from Pomona with my friends Mickey and Tim to Irwindale to see the races. One time in the pits, and this was back when you literally could reach out and touch your heroes, Mr. Warren was doing something on the car and turned around quickly and accidentally hit me in the head with his elbow. I stumbled back, knowing I was at fault for being in his way. He looked down at me for a second (both he and Roger Coburn seemed like they were 8 feet tall), saw the terror in my eyes, and then asked me if I wanted to sit in the Rain for Rent dragster. Few events in my life have matched that moment.".



Another great photo veteran, Jere Alhadeff, "Both James and Roger were good people," he wrote. "I remember being at Lions one Saturday afternoon, and they announced over the PA that Warren and Coburn had been stuck for several hours while the old Grapevine was closed due to snow. However, they had just called, and the road was now open, and they should be there in a couple of hours, which was after qualifying should be over. C.J. [Hart, track operator] told them that they could unload the car as soon as they got there and make one late qualifying run.

Naturally, everyone in the stands cheered, and they did qualify when they got there. Attached are a couple of my favorite Warren and Coburn photos. The front-engined car I believe was the one that originally had a Chevrolet engine and was taken at Stardust in Las Vegas. The rear-engined Woody car is from our beloved OCIR." I really dig the OCIR photo, with the pipes cackling white-hot, the starburst effect on the night lighting ... lots of memories there.



Jon Asher shared, "I witnessed their three-in-a-row wins at the March Meet in '75-77, and each time, it seemed like all of Bakersfield was there to cheer the orange car home. The huge roar that accompanied them each time they pushed down from the top end got louder by each of the five rounds. The poster you showed when Roger died of the two of them in their garage is a true classic; it said it all. Please run it again. Ironic but sad that the two died within six months of each other, but James Warren driving the Rain for Rent Special and the Ridge Route Terrors will live forever in the annals of drag racing. Rest in peace, James." At right is that famous Jon Asher photo of Roger and James in the garage, and here’s a link to the tale of that photo that Asher shared here earlier this year.



J. D. Culbertson wrote, "My dad and I used to follow WCM in the 1960s. I was just a kid, 10 to 15 years of age. My dad talked and got along with both James and Roger and once appeared in Drag News sitting with Roger on the tailgate of their station wagon at the Hot Rod magazine meet in Riverside. I was a shy kid and was afraid to talk to my idol James. That ended a few years ago at Pomona when I mustered up the courage to talk to him; it was a very special moment for me. My fondest memory was at the U.S. Fuel and Gas Championships in Bakersfield (where else?) on Sunday. Before the final round, they had to borrow an engine (I think from Warren and Crowe), and then went out and won the 32-car field. After that final round, they once again had to borrow an engine to face the Surfers for the overall championship. They lost the overall championship, but the chaos between rounds and help they received from fellow racers was a tribute to the family atmosphere that is so much a part of drag racing. I will miss them both. The memories will always be near as that great photo, from their garage, sits framed above the desk in my office."



Bill Gathings added, "I was so sorry to read about James; he remains my favorite all-time. I saw him occasionally at Famoso but didn't get much of a chance to talk to him. Oddly, the last time we saw him was at the Dragfest last year; he seemed really eager to talk and get to know us a bit. My best memory of W&C was at the 1976 division meet at OCIR; they were in the final against the Battleborn car. At the time, they were locked in a tight race for the Winston championship that year and really needed the points from the win to stay in the lead. It was a packed house, with everyone on their feet for the final. After the burnouts, his opponent [Gary Cornwell] couldn't get their car to back up. Despite badly needing the win, Warren chose to only pre-stage and waited and waited as long as possible for his opponent's crew, who were trying everything to get it fixed. Only when they finally gave up and waved him on, he then took a thundering single down the track. It was a great display of sportsmanship, the kind that made him a favorite of so many people."



Barrie Windell shared this great story of the early James Warren. "It was in a little motel in Tacoma, Wash., summer 1965. Clark Marshall had a booked-in Top Fuel north/south show at Puyallup; me and 'the 'Goose,' maybe two of the only guys left out of that trip. I was there with [John] Mulligan, in the Adams & Wayre car. James won the program. It was way after dark on Sunday night, sitting around the motel room, dry county, and James was actually pissed that he had won $1,500 and couldn't even buy a beer. No worries; promoter came up with a few cases of beer. Fun guys, James and Roger."



The loss of Warren certainly transcends California and even this nation. British reader Neil Marks commented, "Although I never saw him in action, he is at least partly responsible for my 32 -year addiction to drag racing. As a teenager, I had a huge poster of an early-'70s version of the Rain for Rent special on my bedroom wall. It was a terrific burnout shot, all smoke and red-orange hues, and that image burned itself so deeply into my 15-year-old brain that I knew one day I would have to make my first visit to a dragstrip. It took another two or three years before I managed that but haven't missed a year since 1979. I hope Mr. Warren's family can take some solace from the fact that he must have inspired many people, both inside and outside of his own country, to get involved in the sport he loved."




More Tributes


I'm still stunned by James's passing, it almost seems impossible that our hero is gone. Roger's passing hit me the same way. Warren and Coburn raced from the 1950's into the 1980's, and they must have made a ton of runs during those thirty years. A few years ago I asked James about the amount of runs he had made over the years, and he just laughed. I was thinking about what a treat it was to race James and Roger in the 1960's.

There was never any BS when you raced those guys, you lined up with them and you either won or you lost. They also raced two days a week if they could, so we got lots of chances to race against them. They were running the "Blue car" with the blown Chevy when we started running our dragster in late 1963, and it seems like they beat up on us regularly. By the time we could give them a good race, they switched to a blown Chrysler, and we had more work to do.

We are all honored to have had James and Roger in our lives and in our sport.
tom jobe...



Warren-Coburn-Miller was the quintessence of California top fuel teams. They stayed together longer than just about any other team, and they ran hard at every meet they entered. What kind of sportsmen were they? At the epic '67 Nationals, W-C-M helped Garlits set up his slipper clutch before Big ran down James Warren in the first dual six-second final.

God be with, Roger.
Chuck Turley



Losing such a giant within our sport certainly takes the edge off Thanksgiving, yet I'm thankful I got to see James and Roger, and Marvin, and the rest of the Bakersfield team race...and to have them as friends. were as good as it gets. Vaya con Dios mi Amigo. Steve Gibbs



Well, It gets harder each year. Has we keep losing family. Roger and his gang. James, Marvin. From Bakersfield, Were very hard racers. Won a bunch of races and make a lot of us racers look bad. These guys were so kick back at the races. you wound never believe, That they won kick ass, God Bless, God speed, To another super guy. R.I.P. Walt Stevens



I've probably made 100 trips to California to see Top Fuel races, and one car I always enjoyed seeing (and cheered for) was W-C-M. My best love to Roger's family. Don Vanhook


Having moved here from Oregon in nov. 73 i started going to OCIR, Irwindale, Pomona, OMS early 74, I saw every one of the 6 straight James won between OCIR and the Dale I think it was '75? I'll never forget him pumping the handle for the 2 speed as he was backing up and clearing the throttle after he lit the 1st light, header fire to the wing and as cool as they get Coburn standing off to the side, these guys are my heroes, I have one of Asher's photos hanging in front of me right now. I never talked to Mr. Coburn but I was honored to chat with James at the corral during the winters (50th Winternationals) for about 20 minutes. This one made me cry, God bless all whom was close to this legend.

With deepest respects Steve Morse



The first time I really ever met James and Roger was in 1973 at the WCS race at Sacramento. I was 17 just hanging around watching them ready their car for the race and Roger ask what I was doing

I thought I was doing something wrong and he said no that he needed some help they were there to race just the 2 of them so Roger need help to push the car back WOW what an experience

they had to chase me out that night, last to leave and may of been the first there the next day ,they made to the final were the motor broke in the burn out I think we were to run Larry Dixon in the Don Steele car .This experience led me to work for Raynor and Herbert and Gary Ormsby. I think the best tribute to Roger and James is that in my racing days nobody ever said any think bad about them everybody like them and respected them, may not of like how fast they ran but they still like Roger and James . Great people, great racers and great ambassadors to our sport.

R I P James and Roger

Allen Jaynes



I recall several yers ago when Garlits was going to drive Gary Clapshaws car at Pomona. Gar was seated at an autograph session and there was a long line of autograph seekers, so gar would sign a photo or a handout or whatever and barely glance up and sign the next one etc.

Well James and I were visiting and I said lets rib Gar a little so I picked up a hot dog wrapper that had mustard all over it and James got in line. When he got to Gar he dropped the wrapper in front of him and Gar looked up wondering who the hell is this nut and when he saw James we all busted up!

I also remember back in the 70s that the knob on the B&J shifter on the Rain For Rent car was missing and after each run Roger had to use pliers to pull the shaft back out. James always had bruised knuckles from punching the shifter.

One time Gar and I were pitted next to WCM at OCIR and Roger came over to ask if we had any welding gear because his frame was cracked behind the engine. All we had was an acetylene welding set and Roger said that was ok, but he didnt have time and asked me to weld up his frame. Well we didn't have any welding rod so I used a coat hanger! Sadly those were really the best days of drag racing and I am so fortunate to have been a part of it. James and Roger were the salt of the earth. Sonny Messner



The reality of how short time we all have here. I have started this tribute more than once and walked away. Growing up in Bakersfield in the middle of the Valley, Drag Racing every weekend. The Friendship of the Bakersfield's own Warren and Coburn. Very evident at both their Memorials. Losing my two friends Roger and James in such a short period of time. Very hard to deal with for me. I first met James and Roger back in the 50s. Same James that we saw at the Reunions every year and at Races in Pomona. James was as friendly in business as he was as a Racer. The many miles we have rode together in some old tow rig on the Drag Race trail. The stories that rush through my mind a I write this. WOW!!! The Old Racers from Bakersfield have always gathered for a Lunch the following Monday after the Reunion. Our group has been getting smaller every year. James always was ready to go to the lunch. I will miss his wit and his big smile. He will be missed by all who ever knew him. In my opinion and many others think James Warren was the best ever as a Top Fuel Dragster Driver.

I Will Miss You My Friend ..............Rest In Peace

Wayne King



I first met James and Roger in the spring of 1973. I was only 16. I had recently moved with my mother to the San Joaquin Valley from Salt Lake City where my own immediate family had been involved in the top fuel business for the prior three years. Our driver was my oldest brother, Gene Wahlstrom (7706). Sadly for me, though, our racing operation remained behind in Utah.. so I now found myself essentially a stranger in the midst of the local arena.. a young teen who had been suddenly removed from the love of his life and was sorely missing daily contact with a sport that had become no less a part of him than his own blood. I had to sniff out the locals. We had raced against the WCM team in the past, but I was young and didn't really "know" them. On the night before the March Meet was to begin, a friend and I drove his old clunker into Bakersfield and we flagged down a Bakersfield cop to ask if he may know where the WCM team was headquartered. He knew who they were, but he didn't know where.. so he actually called on his police radio to another cop who he thought might.. and we received directions from him to Roger's house (ah.. the good ol' valley days of people helping people). So there it was. The garage.. oh, man.. the garage. Exactly the same as it is pictured on this website.. and very much like ours was back home.. salt-of-the-earth racing at its best. Both Roger and James were working on the car in preparation for the following day's race. We were just kids. They could have told us to go away.. but no. They were absolute gentlemen. Kind, honest, straight forward and genuine. We introduced ourselves and I told them of the family team I belonged to in Utah. Both of them immediately made the "Division 7 connection" and accepted my visit like a member of the family. My friend and I told them that we had planned to camp at the March Meet pits but had stopped by first to meet them and to see if we could help out. So as the evening progressed they put us to work and fed us. As well, our camp ended up being a couple of sleeping bags tossed on the back yard patio. We were up most of the night and stuck with them all weekend. Once again, finally, I was warmly feeling at home with drag racing. For that gracious and welcoming acceptance I will forever be grateful. My story is already too long-winded, so I will just say that for the future I was always welcomed in their circle. Even years later when we would be on the road with our own Utah team, I would still feel equally at place in their pit. For those who never knew them, you truly missed out. And for those of us who did, we were very fortunate to reap a value that, decades later, obviously, still remains. Thanks, guys. May your souls rest in peace and may we again meet in Heaven's bleach box.

Alan Wahlstrom
Fresno, CA




If you would like to share your thoughts about Roger send them to: James Warren Remembered and I will add it to this page.

More from Phil Burgess at: Final Fairwell to a Legend
Ridge Route Terror Tails


Members Site Map  ||  Visitors Site Map

Site Copyright 1998-2017. All Rights Reserved.