Tag Archives: Mike Dunn

Legendary ‘Big Jim’ Dunn Has Cancer

One of the all-time greats in drag racing, ‘Big Jim’ Dunn who owns and operates Jim Dunn Racing’s Funny Car team, will not be participating in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series until at least Mid-August – according to a NHRA news release.

Dunn & Reath

After a routine annual checkup, it was discovered that the 80 year old Hall of Famer from Southern California will have to have colon cancer surgery next week. He will miss at least the three race ‘Western Swing’ coming up, which means the entire Grime Boss Funny Car team will be sidelined. Doctors are saying the cancer was caught in the early stages so the prognosis for Dunn’s recovery and outcome are good.

Jim’s son, Jon Dunn who is the team manager said:

“We are grateful that this was discovered during his annual physical. Early diagnosis is crucial in his treatment and recovery. I can’t think of a single NHRA event Dad has missed, and know it won’t be long before he’s back.”

Big from the beginningJim Dunn - Grime Boss Funny Car

Originally a fireman – in which he would become a captain – Dunn was born in Artesia, California, and started racing in the mid-‘50s with and against other early legends of the sport including Art Chrisman, Emory Cook and fellow fireman Ronnie Hier to name a few. Going back as far as ‘Pappy’ Hart’s Santa Ana Drag Strip, Dunn is one of the few who has been a part of the NHRA and its drag racing history from its inception.

Jim won in every category there was including Top Fuel, Funny Car, Fuel Altereds and many more. He gained popularity with the documentary movie ‘Funny Car Summer’ in ‘70s while driving a wildly renown rear-engine Cuda’ – likely the most successful rear-engine Funny Car ever. For many years he partnered with Long Beach engine and crankshaft builder Joe Reath (who passed away last year) and ran as Dunn & Reath. Dunn retired from driving in ’91 and has been a crew chief and owner since.

Another son of Jim Dunn’s is Mike Dunn who also was a successful driver in his own right, winning in both professional nitro classes. Mike has been the commentator on ESPN NHRA telecasts’ for over a decade.

Jim Dunn is well respected in the drag racing community and fans have been pouring in messages to the Dunn family including well-wishes on Grime Boss’ Facebook page.

Additional source: Eagle II Marketing

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How to destroy an empire … or “Lies”

Sports are great.  And maybe motorsport is even better.  It brings people of all types together.  Countries come together.  Philosophies come together.  Religions come together.  Politics come together.  Usually when you are fans of a team or person, you can be diametrically opposed to each other but the sport brings us together.  Why?  We leave our baggage at the door.  We don’t talk about religion or politics in motorsports.  It stays behind the scenes.  We don’t want to know.

I will admit as a fan, I’m not the biggest rooter of John Force.  I, like many, don’t enjoy turning on a drag race and getting the John Force Show.  Or pick up a brochure on a NHRA race and there’s John Force or one of his drivers, crew chiefs etc related to the John Force empire, on the cover.  You know, there are other very interesting drivers and crews out there.  But maybe even more distasteful has been his manipulating races to take advantage of the points system for his teams.  Any racer will cringe at the idea of throwing a race.

With that said, I have always given John Force the benefit of the doubt.  Why?  His business sense and promotion ability.  Whether we liked it or not, he’s the face of drag racing and is known to many in the world and offers drag racing and the NHRA a high-profile unlike like any other entity in the sport.  He’s helped generate extra revenues which is why in part, NHRA and Force looked to be married; they are as their fortunes rely on each other.

But then in the thin air of Denver, everything came tumbling down in a brief moment.

On TV, John was asked a simple question related to a list Mike Dunn created of greatest drivers.  John seemed agitated (seemingly at the idea that Mike would rate John higher – John didn’t want to be that high?) but then in my own view, he’s seems to have become more chippy since the controversy surrounding his purported throwing of races.  Anyway, during the conversation with ESPN’s Dave Rieff, John turns away but then out of nowhere, comes back to the interview and says: “You’re like FOX News, Hannity and Beck. All lies. All crap.”  Whether you agree or disagree with John’s political view – and yes, it’s political since Hannity and Beck are political commentators – he should never have uttered these words.  Why alienate most of the fans?  Why alienate any fans?  Business-wise, this was a huge blunder.  His marketing and PR people jaws must have dropped clear to the ground.  Those pits in their stomach must feel like boulders.

What do Auto Club, Ford, BP (Castrol), Brandsource and other sponsors do?  They have an investment in him now but what happens when contracts come up???

What happens now?  If John’s people around him are smart (& he goes along with it), they’ll have him defuse this fast or his empire will shrink to a much smaller following and bye-bye super team.  The NHRA, ESPN and related businesses of the organization will manipulate the story for ratings but then quickly shuffle it under the rug and hope this devastating instance, doesn’t have any long-lasting damage (ie losing dollars).  They don’t want to see their little empire burned to the ground by a silly unneeded comment.

I still love drag racing but then again, it’s why I really love Nostalgia drag racing.  The politics are essentially non-existent.  No one has a microphone in your face every other minute, to find out.

This is very disappointing to me personally.  Not because John Force is this or that politically, it’s that I now know … and I shouldn’t.

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