The Glory Days…Revisited!

By Martin Libhart

The recent Funny Car Chaos event at North Star Dragway in Denton, Texas may not have been the perfect example of the “Glory Days” of drag racing, but it came pretty close. With an initial field of 30 funny cars, the event was reminiscent of the 70’s when a field of 32 or more funny cars was often the norm. Funny Car Chaos is the brainchild of Chris Graves. Chris and wife Tera have worked tirelessly to create a concept that has grown significantly since the original event was launched just one year ago at North Star Dragway. This year, a total of four events were held, with the first at MO-KAN Dragway (Asbury, MO), followed by Amarillo Raceway (Amarillo, TX), Central Illinois Dragway (Havana, IL), and this final event for 2018 – once again at North Star Dragway, the event’s birthplace. North Star is an old school eight-mile track, with a very short shutdown area. Drivers either know – or learn very quickly – that you better put the laundry out sooner than later! To say that some runs are pretty exciting is an understatement, to say the least.

Funny Car Chaos is a no holds barred competition. While the normal and expected safety rules apply, there are no other rules regarding engine, fuel, etc. The car must be full-bodied with no open wheels, can replicate a funny car of the 70’s, or carry a modern funny car body style as seen today at many events including the pro shows.

The biggest challenge for the season finale of Funny Car Chaos was none other than Mother Nature. Scheduled to make qualification runs Friday evening with final eliminations on Saturday, the clouds opened up several times Friday afternoon and evening, with no cars ever going down the track. As a result, Saturday’s original schedule went by the wayside, starting times were moved up, and qualifying began in the early afternoon. After Q1, once again the skies opened with a brief shower that resulted in a significant delay for track drying due to the high humidity. Ultimately, the initial qualifying round was the only one – elapsed times from that single round established the run order for the first round of eliminations.

As with any event involving a broad range of cars, we saw the good, bad, and ugly at this event, but there were no serious mishaps or injuries – just good old hard racing with a host of outlaw funny cars. One pass, however, stands out with a tribute to Dale Emery who passed in March of this year. Ronny Young’s “Blue Max” was tuned at one time by Emery and was entered in this event. On the first pass by the “Blue Max” on Saturday afternoon, Emery’s ashes were packed in the chutes and were tossed to the wind as a fitting remembrance of the well-known and very popular racer and tuner.

The eliminations format for this event, based on qualifying times, was an 8-car A Field and a 16-car B Field. The final round for the B Field saw Andy Mears in his ’57 Chevy “Dragon Slayer” pitted against Keith Jackson in the Jackson Brothers “High Heaven”. It was Jackson (4.18 at 177 mph) at the stripe first for a hard-earned win over Mears (4.52 at 153 mph). In the final round for the A Field, Ken Singleton and team took home the trophy and check. This was their 3rd win and 3rd time to enter the event, making them undefeated at Funny Car Chaos. With the field of cars entered, this was an impressive accomplishment for the team. Singleton ran a 3.93 at 195.26 mph, winning over John Hale in his “One Bad Texan” and his run of 3.94 at 193.68 mph. This was a close race to the finish line…as “the crowd went wild.”

A special congratulations to Jordan and Russell Ballew for receiving the “2018 Racers Of The Year” award for their continued support of Funny Car Chaos, being the only participants to have entered all five of the FCC events with their “Ballew Thunder” funny car.

With Chris Graves now planning a point series involving 7 or 8 events for 2019, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to attend one or more Funny Car Chaos!

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