Chris King has been working towards his 2023 debut at the Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals for almost two years. The full-time Chicago firefighter will be back on track in his Howards Cams/Competition Products Dodge Charger Funny Car this weekend for the first time since his last race in 2021. King will be competing in six NHRA national events this season, but he is most excited about getting the season started in front of his hometown friends and family at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet.
“Racing Funny Cars in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series is something I think about every day,” said King. “I love my job as a firefighter and running King Training Innovations LLC, a firefighter training company, but getting the chance to race at over 300 mph is a rush you can’t explain to a lot of people. I also get to meet so many fans and talk about several charities I am involved with too.”
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 been 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.“
The race weekend will get off to a hot start for King and a handful of NHRA drivers when they visit Robert Quinn Fire Academy on Thursday afternoon. The group will spend time with firefighter trainers and get hands-on experience. The drivers will get a firsthand experience at what King deals with on the job as well as what the NHRA Safety Safari experiences to some degree when they are called into action on the racetrack.
“I am excited to introduce my day-to-day job to some of my fellow competitors on Thursday,” said King. “We rely on the Safety Safari at the track and they are the best in the business. We are in our firesuits for just our run, but the Safety Safari people are suited up all day. We can’t thank them enough for what they do so being able to get just a taste of their experience. We are going to invite the media out as well so it will be a lot of fun.”
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. This season King is adding Chicago to the mix along with Norwalk and the historic U.S. Nationals Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis. The new races will put King into contention for NHRA Rookie of the Year and show off one of the possible new stars of the sport to new audiences.
“Denver, St. Louis and Topeka are great tracks and we had sponsors and the time to race there in 2021,” said King. “Adding Norwalk and Chicago made sense since they are easy to get to and I have always dreamed of racing Funny Car at the U.S. Nationals. There is so much history at that race and you never know what could happen. We are building this team for the long haul and we want to make sure that when we attend an event we can put on a good show and be competitive.”
For King who will reunite with crew chief Terry Totten to run the Howards Cams/Competition Products Dodge Charger Funny Car the racing will be something he is 100% focused on when he gets to the track. They don’t have a huge crew, so it is all hands on deck all the time. The team will also be joined by Jack and Jason Beckman. The former Funny car driver and his son, who designed the look of King’s Funny Car will be on hand at the Chicago race.
“I can’t wait for people to see the Funny Car Jason designed,” said King. “I saw some of his work and thought it would be cool to get some designs from him. My sponsors and I loved the design that is on the race car so we can’t wait to show it off. It will be a busy and fun weekend that we are really using as a jumping off point for our season.”
The Howards Cams/Competition Products Dodge Charger Funny Car and King will get their first chance to make a lap on Friday afternoon 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.