Over the course of history, there have been certain names and faces that have stood out from the crowd and really showed the world what they had to offer. This has been the case in various different fields, such as acting, singing, politics, and much more. However, there’s no doubt about the fact that the car world has also seen some incredibly names grace the industry with their presence. Drivers are, first and foremost, the big players in the car game, but that doesn’t mean that they have all been behind the wheel…
If you cast your mind back to the 1970s and the world of funny car drag racing, you might remember a man by the name of Jim Liberman. This driver was given the nickname of “Jungle Jim” over the course of his career, but it’s fair to say that this jungle man wasn’t ever too far away from his “Jungle Pam.” This woman took the world by storm during this decade, and it seemed as though everyone knew her name.
Driving into success
If you’re familiar with the world of motorsport, you may know that there are various different forms of racing. There’s everything from drift car racing to monster truck driving, and there are countless people across the globe who love nothing more than to watch the professionals drive into success. However, there’s one particular form of racing that’s linked to the legend that is Jungle Pam.
Funny Car drag racing might not be as famous as some of the other forms of racing that this world has to offer, but there’s no doubt about the fact that it’s in a class of its own. This type of drag racing features very specific vehicles, and perhaps one of the distinct differences between Funny Car racing and normal drag racing is the fact that the engine is at the front of the car.
A huge name
Despite the fact that Funny Car racing isn’t the first type of racing you think of when you think of motorsport, that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been some big names to come from the sport. Over the years, the likes of John Force, Ron Capps, Don Prudhomme, and Tony Predregon have all reigned supreme and found themselves on podium after podium.
Back in the 1970s, Jim Liberman was also the name on everyone’s lips. This Funny Car drag racer is now considered to be the 17th best driver within the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), and while he sadly lost his life in a car accident when he was just 31 years old, his legacy has continued ever since. After all, nobody could forget the show that he put on.
By his side
Over the course of his career, Jim Liberman made a name for himself as someone who really wanted to put on a performance for those who came out to watch him. He wanted to make sure that people got their money’s worth and saw the true spirit of Funny Car drag racing, and he wanted to show off his own talent in the process. Thanks to this, he earned himself the nickname of “Jungle Jim.”
His wild demeanor on the track was hard to ignore, but his fans weren’t the only ones cheering him on. That’s because Jim wouldn’t be seen attending any event without a certain someone beside him. This was a beautiful young woman by the name of Pamela Hardy – and she quickly caused a scene. It wasn’t long before she had earned her own nickname of “Jungle Pam.”
Becoming an icon
In fact, Jim Liberman’s career soon transformed into the career of Jim and Pam collectively. They shared the attention, they shared the success, and they shared their place on the racetrack – even though Pam didn’t set foot into the car herself. Instead, Jungle Pam became a household name by being the ultimate girlfriend, the most beautiful cheerleader, and the coolest sidekick that any driver had ever had before.
She was a new addition to the male-dominated drag race world, and it didn’t take long for this change to really make its mark. Pam became an icon of the 1970s, and she performed alongside Jim when it came to drag races, public appearances, and magazine spreads. She was an icon of her time, and while she lived her life in the limelight, few people really knew that much about her.
Sadly, Jungle Pam’s drag race partner passed away in 1977, and this left Pamela feeling incredibly upset and alone. She didn’t quite know what to do without Jim by her side, but that didn’t mean that she left the whole world behind her. Although it’s been over four decades since she found herself strutting around on the Funny Car racing track, Pam has since spoken in interviews and continued her love for the motorsport.
She regularly looks back on her time in the limelight and her time as Jungle Pam, and she looks back with a smile on her face. Without any regrets to her name, she has been more than willing to share her story and her ascent to fame and fortune. Of course, there are countless people who want to know more about her.
One of the biggest questions people want to know when it comes to her career and her relationship with Jim Liberman is how they first met. What’s so amazing about this first meeting is the fact that it was totally by chance, and it could have easily been missed if they hadn’t both been in the same place at the same time. According to Pam, she was just 18 years old when she met Jim for the first time.
The teenager was walking along the street in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and just two weeks away from her college graduation when she decided to take a little break from her day and head to the local mall. However, she was soon stopped in her tracks when a car pulled up beside her.
A beautiful woman
As the car screeched to a halt, Pam could tell that whoever was in the driver’s seat was going at an incredible speed before they pulled up alongside her. She looked to see who was in the car and what they wanted from her, and that was when she first set eyes on Jim Liberman. It’s been suggested that Jim was just going about his business and driving around West Chester when he spotted the beautiful Pam walking along the street.
He couldn’t help but slam on the brakes. She was the most stunning human that he had ever set eyes on, and he just knew that he had to stop what he was doing and speak to her. After introducing himself and stating his name, Jim then invited the young woman to a gathering of friends later that day.
A whole new world
Amazingly, Pam accepted the invitation and decided to join Jim and his friends for a get-together. While she didn’t know the man in front of her, she could see that he was kind and not someone who would be a threat to her – so she had no qualms about meeting new people and experiencing a new world. What she didn’t realize at the time was that she really would be introduced to a whole new world that day.
That’s because Jim decided to teach Pam about his career in the Funny Car drag racing world, and he decided to showcase what the motorsport was really about. However, hearing about his career wasn’t enough for Pam, and it didn’t take her long to pull up alongside her new friend and watch Jim in action at one of his races.
As Jim dominated the competition and won the race, Pam was overwhelmed with adrenaline and excitement. She had gone from knowing nothing about drag racing to feeling a rush of enjoyment within the space of just a few hours, and she knew that she wanted to know more about it. In fact, Jim could see just how excited it made Pam, so he decided to approach the subject of them joining forces.
Jungle Jim wanted Pamela to be a part of his team, and it didn’t take her long to think of her answer. She couldn’t wait to see what the next race had in store for her, and she couldn’t wait to see Jim in action again. Although she only had a few weeks left of college, she dropped out and officially became “Jungle Pam.”
Drawing a crowd
Jungle Pam’s inclusion within Jim Liberman’s team was a revelation for the world of drag racing. Before she came along, Funny Car drag racing was dominated by men, and the main focus was on the male drivers and their cars. While they were all famous in their own right, and they often drew large crowds, the introduction of Pam took drag racing to a whole new level.
That’s because Pam wasn’t a driver herself, but instead supported Jim and his team and proved to be a lucky charm by their side. She became somewhat of a character, and a whole new selection of fans made their way to races to check out the elusive Jungle Pam for themselves. The sport became more and more popular as the years went by, and Jungle Pam certainly had something to do with that.
Becoming a celebrity
Jim Liberman loved having his girlfriend by his side, and he loved the fact that others were seeing just how beautiful she was. However, he also loved the fact that he could see that Pam was passionate about racing. She wasn’t just a random beauty on the sidelines, but she was an integral part of the team who wanted them to win and wanted to learn more about the sport.
It seems as though their relationship as the “Jungle” king and queen also worked in their favor because this became their brand as the years went by. Photographers and magazines wanted nothing more than pictures or interviews with the pair, and Pam had become a celebrity without her really noticing it. Before too long, she was receiving fan mail and being asked for her autograph.
The front cover
For a while, Pam had no idea that she was so popular with drag racing fans. Although she knew that ticket numbers were up and that more and more people were choosing to see the drivers in action, she didn’t put two and two together, and she didn’t believe that it was because of her. The first time she realized just how famous she was occurred when she was making her way through the airport.
As she walked through the terminal, she was approached by a fan clutching a magazine she had done a photoshoot for. The fan wanted nothing more than to have her autograph her own photo, but what Pam didn’t realize was that her photoshoot had actually made the front cover. This was brand new information to her, and she couldn’t quite believe it.
Her racing uniform
One of the main reasons why Pam became so popular was because of the outfits she wore while standing beside her favorite drag racer. As she stood on the track and pumped Jim up for his race, she would wear short shorts and low-cut tops that showed off her assets. She normally teamed up this outfit with her long flowing locks and some boots – and fans knew that they should expect the cheerleader to be wearing such an outfit when they made their way down to the race.
While this just added to the fans’ experience, her appearance began to cause trouble within her personal life. After losing her father when she was younger, Pam relied on her mother to bring her up and take care of her. However, Pam’s mother didn’t approve of the way that her daughter was behaving.
Shutting her out
Every time that Pam spoke to her mother, she would receive criticism about the photoshoots that she was taking part in or the clothes that she was wearing on the race track. It got to a point where she found each interaction so draining she began to shut her mother out. This continued for a few months, but there then came a point where Pam missed her mother more than anything.
Although she knew that her mom didn’t approve, Pam wanted to try and convince her mother that she was in a career that she loved. So, she rang her and taught her mother everything she could possibly teach her about drag racing and the motorsport as a whole. Pam also explained the love that she had for the sport, and while she had decided to stick with it.
Better than nothing
Because Pam’s mother also missed the connection that they had, she decided to give her daughter the benefit of the doubt and hear her out. She listened intently, and she tried to take in as much information about drag racing as she could. In the end, they managed to reach a point in their relationship where Pam’s mother accepted her career and her role in the drag racing world…
But also a relationship where there was still a distance and a veil between her daughter’s appearance on the track. She didn’t want to think of Pam wearing such skimpy clothing in front of so many people, but she also knew how much the sport meant to her daughter. In an interview later in life, Jungle Pam confessed that her relationship with her mother was “Better than… nothing.”
A glamorous lifestyle
When people look back on Pam’s life now, they often believe that the young woman had an incredibly glamorous life. After all, she was touring with one of the biggest drag race drivers of the time, she was wearing beautiful clothes, and she always looked as though she was happy. However, Pam has been quick to shut down these assumptions.
In her eyes, her life was never as it seemed to others looking upon it from the outside. While some people thought that Pam and the rest of the team were “rock stars,” she believes that they were the furthest from rock stars that they could possibly be. Back in the day, they weren’t racing for the fame or fortune. Instead, they were racing for their wages – and the fame was just a bonus that came after rent was paid.
Staying away from it all
Another question many people ask Jungle Pam is why she decided to stay on the sidelines. With the knowledge and experience that she built up as Jim Liberman’s sidekick, she could have easily made her way into the driver’s seat and become the next big name in Funny Car drag racing. However, that’s something that never even crossed her mind. After touring the globe and watching countless drivers make their way down numerous tracks, she vowed to never put herself in that position.
That’s because she had seen more than her fair share of accidents and crashes over the years, and she knew that Funny Car vehicles often caught fire without even a warning. She didn’t want to deal with any risky business, even when agents offered her a huge amount of money to get behind the wheel herself.
Witnessing the horror
Although Pam had not witnessed a huge amount of crashes over the course of her career within the drag racing world, she had seen some horrors every so often. With cars driving at such high speeds and with temperamental cars to contend with, it wasn’t exactly rare for a driver to have an incident during a race. In fact, she noted that the worst accident she ever witnessed occurred during a race in Orange County.
A racer by the name of Jean Snow was just going about his normal routine and putting his foot on the accelerator when a terrible incident occurred. This incident involved the hydraulic rod in his engine coming through the car and almost taking his foot off. Although he survived the ordeal, it was tough for Pam to watch.
Successful and on fire
However, Pam wasn’t just watching incidents that involved other people. Even from the sidelines, there were plenty of occasions where Jungle Pam found herself struggling with the pain of being involved in the world of drag racing. There was one particular occasion where Jungle Jim and Jungle Pam had traveled to Englishtown for a race.
While it seemed as though it was just another day and another race, this day proved that Pam was on fire with her success – quite literally. As she looked underneath the body of the car to ensure that everything looked ready to go before the race started, Jim turned on the engine without taking the mag wire off. This caused a gas can to explode right beside Pam, and she could feel that her eyebrows were tinged after her lucky escape.
Keeping it real
While there was no doubt about the fact that Jungle Pam had a real love for cars, there were people who believed that she was only as famous as she was because of her appearance. After all, she wore skimpy outfits and made sure that she always looked good when she made her way down to the track for race day, and many assumed that was the only reason why people wanted to see her.
However, Pam has since noted that this wasn’t the case. Fans who tried to get her autograph or take a photo with her were always respectful, and most of them spoke to her about cars rather than what she looked like. She still receives fan mail today from those who remember her, and she instantly deletes the hate mail she receives every now and then.
Despite the fact that most fans had good intentions when it came to Jungle Pam, there were a few incidents where fans would get a little too close for comfort. Thankfully, Pam had a special person by her side, and Jim Liberman made sure that everyone knew that he wouldn’t stand for any funny business.
When the couple made their way to Ohio for a race, Pam found herself at the center of attention when a group of men in their seats tried to get her to notice them. To do this, they called her all kinds of names and shouted out rude comments that wouldn’t fly with anyone. Jim instantly leaped into action, and while he didn’t say anything to the men, it’s fair to say that his harsh stare did the talking for him.
Loving her fans
Aside from the very few fans who crossed the line, Pam has noted that almost all of her fans were as good as gold. They appreciated the fact that she was bringing a new dimension to the world of drag racing, and Pam appreciated the fact that they had accepted her into their world. She still meets up with many of these fans today at conferences and drag races.
She also always makes sure to give time and attention to those who want to reminisce about the old days. She has confessed that she values “each and every one” of her fans, and she loves nothing more than meeting up with fellow drag racing enthusiasts who could remember the ‘70s and watched the same races that she did in her heyday.
Drag racing today
It’s now been over four decades since Jungle Pam and Jungle Jim really made their mark on the world, and while Jim Liberman sadly passed away many years ago, that hasn’t stopped Pam from strutting her stuff on the race track. In her eyes, she will always be Jungle Pam, and she will always love the motorsport. Because of this, she spends most of her time traveling across the globe and attending races in all different countries.
Here, she not only gets to watch races, but she also gets to meet the drivers and fans who remember her. However, that doesn’t mean that Pam loves everything about the modern world of drag racing. She has noted that she believes modern drag racing “needs to be more entertaining” and “needs more character.”
A sport for regular people
Alongside this, Pam also believes that drag racing has been taken over by major corporations within the sporting world. She thinks that these big companies need to make their way off the track to allow for the drivers to really make their mark, and she thinks that this will also have an impact on the people who fill up the stands. After all, the bigger the corporations involved, the higher the price tag for the tickets.
By making way for more independent companies and racers, she believes that ticket prices will become more reasonable so that regular people can appreciate the beauty and the art of the motorsport. She knows first-hand that there is nothing better than watching a drag race live, but Pam has noted that everyday people don’t get the chance to experience it anymore.
The devastating event
Although Jungle Pam has fond memories of her life in the world of Funny Car drag racing, that doesn’t mean that a particular event doesn’t still haunt her. The passing of Jim Liberman came as a huge shock to the world, and he was so young when he sadly passed away. Pam still remembers the moment that she was told the news, and she still remembers how she felt when she heard what had happened to her partner in crime.
After hearing it on the news herself, Pam’s mother knew that she didn’t want her daughter to hear it on the radio or on the television. So, she decided to call her and tell her the news in person. Pam felt numb when she learned that Jim’s crash had been fatal, and today she still regards it as a “waste of life.”
A free spirit
In an interview that took place a few decades after his passing, Pam felt more comfortable talking about Jungle Jim. She noted that his accident was “devastating,” and that nobody could quite believe that he was gone when they all heard the news. While she noted that Jim was a “free spirit” who often found himself in trouble, he was a great driver and an even better mechanic.
In fact, she also revealed that Jim had found himself battling with a change of heart in the months leading up to his passing. Although he loved drag racing more than anything, he also loved cars and the engineering behind them. He had reportedly confessed to Pam that he wanted to take a break from driving to focus more on the mechanical side of things for a while.
A troubled relationship
While Jungle Jim and Jungle Pam made sure that their relationship was professional while they were gearing up for a race, there was no doubt about the fact that there were sparks of the racetrack. In fact, the two of them were somewhat of a couple over the course of their interactions with each other – but their relationship was troubled.
In fact, there were many fans of the driver who suggested that Jim decided to take his own life after Pam reportedly called quits on their on-and-off-relationship. This rumor made its way to Pam, and she felt uncomfortable with the story that these fans had come up with. While she has since noted that she did leave Jim because of his wandering eye and their differences in opinions, she believes that his passing was simply a terrible accident.
A wasted talent
To this day, Pam mourns for the man that she not only used to work with but the man that she also used to love. Together they were the “Jungle” duo, and Pam’s experience would not have been the same without him. She still thinks about the driver today, and she often thinks back to their days on the track and the laughs that they shared.
Many fans also think of him as well, and they often like to talk to Pam about his memory and his legacy. When one particular fan asked her what she would say to Jim if she saw him in the future, Jungle Pam had to think for a moment. Eventually, she came up with something incredible heartfelt. “I wish you were here to see what you would have become. Your talent was wasted. Truly.”
Talent beyond measure
Pam is now committed to keeping Jim’s legacy alive, and she believes that her actions back in the day are still doing that for her. While there are many people who believe that the young woman was too provocative and too naughty for the world of sport, she believes that her choice to wear what she wore was exactly that; her choice.
She has never felt ashamed of how she used to present herself or the shorts that she used to wear, and she has never felt as though she needed to justify herself. Instead, she believes that her unique introduction to the world of Funny Car drag racing brought a whole new collection of fans to the sport, and allowed the legacy of the “Jungle” brand to continue as the years go by.
Imitation isn’t flattering
Pam has often been contacted by new generations of fans who have learned all about Jungle Jim thanks to her name and her ability to bring a new edge to the sport – and she loves the fact that she still has the power to do that today. However, this hasn’t always worked in her favor. While they say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, it seems as though some new racing drivers within the drag racing world are trying to jump onto the “Jungle” bandwagon.
They have often tried to market themselves as the next racer within the “Jungle name,” and Jungle Pam has made it quite clear that she isn’t on board with these decisions. She has noted that “You would think people would want to make a name for themselves,” rather than taking the name of others.
The Jungle Curse
However, Pam’s insistence that drag racers make their own name for themselves isn’t just because she doesn’t think that Jim’s name should be used in vain. It’s also because she believes in something called the “Jungle Curse.” Although she doesn’t like to talk about it too much, she believes that the name “Jungle” will be cursed forevermore.
After Jim’s passing and after her own career went pretty quiet, Pam soon realized that there were other people on the planet who wanted to cash in on the “Jungle” fame. So, they put the name on the side of their cars, and they tried to market themselves under the umbrella. While they probably thought that this would work out well for them, Pam just watched their career fumble as they struggled to get off the ground.
Putting on a show
Despite the small percentage of people who have tried to make money from the career that she built with Jim Liberman by her side, Pam is happy with where her life has taken her. She feels proud to have had such an impact on the world of motorsport, and she loves the fact that people still recognize her as someone who made a difference and brought more people to the sport.
In fact, she knows that people still put her photos on their walls, and she knows that fans believe her to be a legend in the game. However, Pam doesn’t want people to think that she was the only one responsible for such legendary stories and turnout numbers. In her eyes, “We put on a good show, that’s what it was all about.”
Taking a step back
Considering she was so famous at the time, many people can’t help but wonder why Jungle Pam decided to step away from the limelight. Her knowledge of the motorsport industry had proved to be extremely attractive to other drivers and those who wanted her on their team, but she turned down their offers.
After Jungle Jim passed away, she decided that she didn’t want to continue doing what had made her so happy for all of the years they spent together. She wouldn’t have felt right working with another driver – but she didn’t want to say goodbye to the industry altogether. So, she told herself that she would step away from the racetrack and head to the sidelines instead. To this day, she still loves nothing more than watching a drag race.
Making her own decisions
When she attends these races, it doesn’t take long for fans and friends to make their way towards the icon. They all want to know more about the woman that they used to call Jungle Pam, and they all want to know what life was really like for her back in the 1970s. That’s because she has become somewhat of a female icon over the years – and women especially love to read and hear about her exploits back in the day.
Pam was a young woman who wore what she wanted despite the thoughts of those around her, she participated in a sport largely dominated by men, and she showed the world that women were so much more than just objects to be looked at. Pam hopes that she will inspire other women to do the same.
Jungle Pam for life
Although her life as Jungle Pam has now come to an end, Pamela Hardy is convinced that the name will never leave her side. In her heart, she will always be a woman who fell in love with a motorsport and was able to live her dream beside someone she truly cared about – and someone who truly excelled in their field.
Before she was able to make her way onto the racetrack with Jim Liberman in tow, women were virtually nonexistent in the sport. Since then, the industry has exploded with female drivers and those like her who supported others in the driver’s seat. Her work will forever go down in history, and we don’t think that there will be another like Jungle Pam. For her, Jungle Pam is for life.