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Buddy Hull Ready for Funny Car Career Start at Gainesville

Driver Buddy Hull is set to have the best year of his life, kicking it off at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. on March 7-10. For the first time in his career, he will be racing the entire NHRA season, and making the exciting transition from piloting a Top Fuel dragster to a Nitro Funny Car. If that wasn’t a big enough transition already, he will also be making his debut as a driver for Jim Dunn Racing.

This weekend will be the first Gatornationals event that Hull has ever competed in, and he’s never felt more ready for a race. Hull earned his crossover license in early February, and he and the Jim Dunn Racing team have spent the off-season testing the car and building up a team comradery.
 
“Outside of Indy and Pomona, what is more historic than the Gatornationals? I have been to the race a few times. Every time I have been, I have just thought about how badly I want to drive a race car at this race,” said Hull. “To finally get that opportunity to race at the Gatornationals is something that I have dreamed of. It is truly a dream come true. It took a lot of hard work to get here. I am going to focus and do my job as a driver, because we want nothing more than to put this Vertex Funny Car in the Winner’s Circle in Gainesville. We are ready to show off what this Jim Dunning Racing team is made of.”
 
For the first race of the season, Hull will be sporting a Vertex Roofers and General Contractors design on his Funny Car, honoring the Dallas-based company that he owns, and was his first sponsor to start his professional racing career. In addition to Vertex, other supporters of the car include new sponsor, Solid Start/True Brand Products, as well as sponsors Lescure Mechanical Services, Mooneyes, Crow Safety, Blaze Exhaust Probes, KGC Construction, Powerbuilt Tools and Wiley X.
 
“I am incredibly thankful for all of our sponsors, new and old, who have put so much faith into me as a driver,” said Hull. “Their support is a huge driving factor in what pushes me to want to be successful. What I love about this sport is the amazing community of people. And I am excited to bring even more people into the fold this season, to see what drag racing is all about, and why it’s the best sport in the world.”
 
When asked about the decision to make the switch over to Funny Car and drive for the legendary Jim Dunn, Hull knows that it was the best call he could have made to advance his career. With this change, he can now focus solely on being a driver instead of both a driver and team owner, channeling all his energy into becoming a driver who can live up to the Jim Dunn name.
 
“Obviously there is a lot of pressure when you make big changes like this. But pressure makes diamonds,” said Hull. “I am super excited to have that pressure to be the very best Funny Car driver I can be for Jim Dunn Racing. This whole off-season my war cry to myself has been ‘I have to be the best race car driver I have ever been in 2024 and beyond.’ I want to represent Jim Dunn Racing the very best I can at every race all season.”
 
Looking ahead at the 2024 season, Hull believes there is a lot to look forward to. Competing at all 21 national events, many at tracks he has never been to. Earning new career best speed and E.T. records. And racing against a whole new class of drivers, including many of his heroes.
 
“I can’t wait to race John Force. I grew up a John Force fan,” said Hull. “I watched him set his Funny Car on fire too many times to count. John has treated me well since I became a professional driver and we have bought a ton of race car parts from John Force Racing.  He has been very helpful to me. I appreciate the support, but I also want to beat him.”
 
On top of his success on the track, Hull is also enthusiastic for many life events happening off the track. The 43-year-old married his longtime love, Madi Smith, at the end of February.
 
“I am ready for this to be my year, racing for an elite team, with the love of my life by my side,” said Hull. “I have worked so hard to have this opportunity, and I’m blessed to be doing this with the very best people surrounding me. I want to win not just for me, but for this team and for my new family. Let’s do this.”
 
Hull and the Jim Dunn Racing team will be on track for the first time this season with two qualifying runs on Friday, March 8 and then two more qualifying runs on March 9 at Gainesville Raceway. The top 16 quickest Funny Cars will battle it out for the Wally and a special Gatornationals trophy starting on Sunday, March 10 at 10:30 a.m. ET with the first round of eliminations live on FS1. For tickets or more information on the NHRA Gatornationals visit nhra.com.

This story was originally published on March 5, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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