At 24 years old, Hunter Patton might just be one of the biggest names in big-money bracket racing right now. And he doesn’t just win big races, he does it in a style that hasn’t been seen before.
Patton brought home a $500,000 check after turning on the win light at Sparco Fall Fling 500K at Bristol Dragway in September. The win came when his opponent, Matt Dadas, turned it red by -0.100 in the finals. After seeing his win light come on, Patton never even made it to the finish line, stopping halfway down the track and backing his dragster back up the track to a crowd of cheering friends, ensuring his performance would go down in history as one of the most epic Spring Fling wins. “Winning the Fall Fling was crazy,” Patton says. “It was like a dream you never thought would come true.”
But Patton’s epic September didn’t end with that win. The next weekend he took home the IHRA Division 4 Team Finals win at Pine Valley Raceway, making it his third IHRA Team Finals victory.
The Houston, Texas-based racer, often known as “Hunny Wayne,” is a mechanic by day, but drag racing is his passion. He started racing a Jr. Dragster at 8 and moved up to racing his dad’s dragster when he was 16. At just 17, he won a $25,000 race at the original Million Dollar Drag Race in Montgomery, Alabama. He’s also won a handful of other big-money races, including several $10k and $20k events.
He says his life hasn’t changed too much since bringing home $500,000 in September. But he did use some of that money to upgrade his racing operation, including a new truck, trailer and another dragster that he’ll be racing next year. He also used some of his 2019 winnings to get prepared for the 2020 racing season, including pre-entering for the first-ever Guaranteed Million in Memphis. He’ll be running his two dragsters in 2020 and is looking forward to several more big checks and winner’s circle celebrations.
This story originally appeared in DI #151, the 30 Under 30 Issue, in December of 2019.