Bill Doner was our friend. We would see him every summer, talk to him every other week (sometimes multiple times a day) and replay a life so full, it would be hard to cram anything more into it. Bill was also our mentor; we learned from him every chance we got.
Bill awakened the Pacific Northwest to big time motorsports with drag match races, fox hunts and of course 64 Funny Cars. Was there another promoter who ever lined up 64 Funny cars on a drag strip and fired them up at the same time? Before he made his mark with drag racing, Bill promoted road racing to race-starved Northwest fans with USAC-sanctioned events, Trans-Am racing, the Dan Gurney 200 and more. Seattle International Raceway featuring Bill’s ubiquitous radio ads, thrilling events and even more thrilling side shows were part of the summer’s soundtrack in the 1960s and 70s.
Over the past several years, Bill held court in the Finish Line Club at the NHRA Northwest Nationals interviewing and roasting drivers, both his old friends and new friends, like John Force, Ron Caps, Jack Beckman, Antron Brown, Steve Torrence, and Jerry “The King” Ruth just to name a few. He was making plans to work with Pacific Raceways on other projects….always thinking, always promoting, and always entertaining.
Rest in peace, Bill.