Funny Car’s Chris King Eager to Show Off at Hometown Track and Route 66 Nationals

Funny Car’s Chris King Eager to Show Off at Hometown Track and Route 66 Nationals

It has been a year since Chris King and the Howards Cams/Competition Products Dodge Charger Funny Car hit the track at Route 66 Raceway. This weekend’s Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals will be a homecoming and relaunch for the Chicago firefighter and aspiring professional Funny Car driver. Last year King made a valiant effort and narrowly missed making the field. This season King and his revamped team have reason for optimism heading into their first race of 2024.
“We made some significant changes in the off-season, and I feel like we are starting the season in a much better position,” said King, who made his professional Funny Car debut in 2021. “Last year we raced in five races and we had our ups and downs. I have to thank everyone that has worked over the off season and beginning of this year to get us to this point. I haven’t gotten a lot of sleep in the past couple of weeks but when you are chasing a dream that doesn’t really matter.”

For King and his Howards Cams/Competition Products crew the goal for the Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 Nationals is simple. They want to take advantage of every qualifying round and make improvements without damaging parts along the way. Throughout his young career King has been mindful of driving smart and listening to his race car.
“We don’t have a big budget, but we have more parts this season than we have ever had,” said King. “We are not going to go out and run low ET, but we can race smart and race the track. The Funny Car class is tough, but I love every second of the competition at the track. We have received a lot of support from other teams in the class. I am excited to get to the track and hit the throttle. I am really glad the NHRA and the Chicago track added the fourth qualifying session. That will really help our team.”
Prior to the start of the race King will host several professional drivers at a firefighter experience event on Thursday at the Romeoville Fire Academy. King held the first event like this last year and showing his fellow competitors what it’s like to be a firefighter was a thrill for King. As a long-time Chicago firefighter himself, King knows the physical strain and adrenaline boost has a serious crossover effect from firefighting to driving a 12,000-horsepower nitro Funny Car or Top Fuel dragster.
“The firefighter experience is something I have always wanted to do ever since I started racing Funny Cars,” said King. “You get a unique perspective when you are putting out a fire or knocking down a door with an axe. The similarities between the focus you need and the physicality of both jobs are so similar. I am excited to show a new group of drivers what my day job is like.”
On Thursday night King will host a dinner at Joliet Firehouse 1 with the support of Mission Foods and Fire Department Coffee. Mission Foods is donating a variety of their great tortilla and salsa products to produce a Mexican Dinner Feast for the men and women who protect the great Joliet area with King doing the cooking along with members of the firehouse. This is another way King has thought about using his platform as a professional race car driver to give back to the local community.
“I have been thinking about how I could give back to some of the firehouses across the country and I wanted to be sure and include Mission Foods, since they are an amazing sponsor for our series,” said King. “I pitched them the idea of hosting a Mexican Dinner and they jumped at the opportunity. Fire Department Coffee, another great NHRA sponsor, is also supporting so we will have a great dinner and say thank you to these brave community heroes before the race gets underway.”
When the race does get started King will face some of the toughest competition the sport has seen in recent memory. Since the beginning of the season the class has seen multiple winners and record setting times and speeds. The fact that King and his Howards Cams/Competition Products Funny Car will be wading into a competitive pool that will feature eighteen drivers vying for sixteen spots has King hyper focused on the task at hand.
“We have been working for months towards this race and putting our best foot forward,” said King. “When we come off the trailer on Friday, we want to just make a nice smooth run to shake the car down. We have a lot of new parts and we aren’t going to try anything crazy. We are going to race what the track gives us and hopefully at the end of the day on Saturday we will have one of the sixteen quickest times.”
In addition to racing and his work with the Chicago fire department King volunteers his time with public safety charities including Ignite the Spirit, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, The Ronnie Thames Foundation, and The Leary Firefighters Foundation. All these amazing groups dedicate resources and support to first responders and their families. King has seen firsthand the impact the job can have on men and women and their families.
“I have a personal connection to every charity I work with and that is one of the things I missed about not being at the racetrack, was the connection to something I loved,” said King. “When you are a member of the firefighter or first responder community it is a big family and racing is the same thing. I can’t wait to just be around the other drivers. They have all bene welcoming and supportive in the past. This year we will be doing more races, so I hope to get to know some of these guys even better.”
In 2021 King raced in three NHRA national events qualifying for the Mile High Nationals in Denver, The Kansas Nationals in Topeka and the Midwest Nationals in St. Louis. Last year King entered the Route 66 Nationals, the Mile-High Nationals in Denver, the Topeka Nationals, the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd and the Midwest Nationals in St. Louis. This season King is looking forward to competing in five or six national events.
The Howards Cams/Competition Products Dodge Charger Funny Car and King will get their first chance to make passes on Friday afternoon and evening when qualifying for the Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals get underway. There will be two more qualifying sessions on Saturday with final eliminations for the 16 quickest Funny Cars commencing at 11 a.m. on Sunday. The race will be televised nationally on FS1 Sunday evening.

This story was originally published on May 15, 2024.

The post Funny Car’s Chris King Eager to Show Off at Hometown Track and Route 66 Nationals first appeared on Drag Illustrated.

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