Jim Rini – Kingston, ON
Jim Rini was born in Kingston, Ontario and as a teenager, built one of the region’s most recognized hot rods. As an apprentice mechanic at the local Ford dealer, he bought a 1932 Model B five-window coupe, drove it home, where much to the dismay of his violinist father, he dismantled it in the family garage. With his brother, Dan Rini, he modified the model to build a dragster that they named ‘The Canadian’. Rini would tune the car and engine that he built, while Dan was the driver. In 1965, they won low E.T., high M.P.H., Top Fuel Class and Top Eliminator at The Canadian National Championships in Mohawk Dragway, Desoronto. Their low E.T. of 7.99 was the first recorded time under 8 seconds by a Canadian car and driver. Rini’s high H.M.P was 199.7. In the same year, the Rini brothers also won Top Fuel Division at the New York State Championships, in Cicero, NY. In September 1965, their first Top Fuel car was crashed and destroyed in Lebanon Valley Raceway due to oil on the track.
In 1966, Jim Rini built the second front engine Top Fuel dragster—a longer car with a more powerful engine. The brothers enjoyed much success over the next three years, racing in Division 1, often at Napierville and Pont Rouge, Québec. Many of their appearances were in Match Races. This car consistently took Rini to over 200 M.P.H, which was a great attraction for spectators.
The Rini brothers were invited to display their Fuel Dragster at the 1967 World’s Fair in Montreal. In the same year, their vehicle was named the best-engineered car at the Custom Car show in Montreal. In 1969, their third Top Fuel dragster with a Don Long chassis, Tom Hannah body, and a Jim Rini engine took them into the six-second bracket—another Canadian low E.T. first (and over 225 M.P.H.) Dan and Jim Rini enjoyed low qualifying E.T.s for Grand Nationals at Sanair. With this car, Burn Outs were a spectator favorite. This vehicle successfully competed in Match Racing and Elimination Racing throughout Ontario, Quebec, and North Eastern U.S.A.
1972, the brothers purchased their first rear engine dragster, another Don Long chassis and Tom Hannah body, which gave them top speeds of 240 M.P.H., and consistent E.T.s of 6.40. This rear engine dragster was the forerunner for today’s rear engine dragsters.
Retiring in 2005, Dan Rini co-owned and operated Rini Racing Engines. In 2000, he built a front engine nostalgic dragster, and participated in Cacklefest in Bakersfield, California from 2012 to 2014. This car bears the name ‘Rini Bros. The Canadian’, ‘The Way We Were’.
Today, Jim Rini lives in Kington, Ontario.