Men in the automotive industry still far outnumber women, but some of the most famous individuals in Chevrolet’s history were female. Take for example, “Jungle Pam” Hardy, the beautiful woman that traveled with, staged, and even worked on “Jungle Jim” Liberman’s Chevy Funny Cars. Last week, we took a look at “Jungle Jim” himself so it’s only fitting that this week we dive into who “Jungle Pam” was before she was famous!
Known best for her actions on the track while helping Jungle Jim stage his various Funny Cars at tracks all across the country in the early and mid 70s, Hardy was just 18 years old and a high school senior when she met Liberman. As the story goes, one summer afternoon in 1972, Hardy was on a stroll in West Chester, Pennsylvania, when Liberman drove passed her slowly in his Corvette. Wanting to talk to Hardy, Liberman made a loop around the block and pulled up to Hardy at the curb, introducing himself. From that chance encounter, everything changed for Hardy.
This encounter happened just a couple weeks before graduation, and at the time, she was planning to attend college. Hardy changed her future plans, and opted to travel the country with Liberman instead. So, after graduation, Hardy packed her bags and hit the road with Liberman and his crew.
Though Hardy had little experience with drag cars, Liberman put her on the track anyway as a part of his showy performance. At first, Hardy was the “backup girl”, taught how to back up a Funny Car by Liberman’s main crew man at the time, Pete White. The idea was that a powerful Funny Car driven by a showman himself, when mixed with an attractive woman on the track helping stage, would garner more attention. And attention Hardy received.
It didn’t take long before Hardy was the main spotter, backing up Liberman’s cars on drag strips all over the country. Here “talents” made even more of a bewitching performance out of the affair than the drag racing community had ever seen on the track. It didn’t hurt that Hardy did so while usually wearing “short” shorts and tight tops. If anything, this only aided in making her the show woman she was, and gained her more attention. It was Hardy’s performances with Liberman that earned her the nickname “Jungle Pam”.
“Jungle Pam” quickly became known nationwide among young men and women drag racing enthusiasts alike. Her performance on the track was just as enticing, if not more so for some, as Jungle Jim’s performances behind the wheel of his cars.
Hardy was also known to help out with Jungle Jim’s cars outside of just staging, helping top off the block with water, fill it with oil and even pack the parachutes after each quarter-mile run.
Unfortunately, Jungle Pam’s stint in drag racing only lasted a handful of years. As the 1980s approached, drag racing changed. Rules were different, competition was unlike anyone had ever seen, and the entire atmosphere was different.
Jungle Jim continued to race, but not nearly as much as he used to. In 1977, Liberman was killed in a tragic accident behind the wheel of his Corvette. After that, Jungle Pam went back to the normal 9-to-5 scene, and there’s never been a track gal or face of Chevy like hers since.