Piloting an NHRA nitro Funny Car was always a box Chris King wanted to check off his bucket list.
Now, King’s dream is getting closer to becoming a reality. King, who has gone rounds in the Top Alcohol Funny Car ranks, recently completed his requirements to receive his nitro Funny Car license by making laps in Paul Richards’ Funny Car tuned by Paul Smith.
Like some drivers whose resume is all about racing, King is on the other end of the spectrum.
King, 43, a father of two from Racine, Wis., has been a full-time firefighter for 23 years, the last 10 in Chicago.
“Racine wasn’t exciting enough,” he said in a press release. “There weren’t enough fires. The allure of Chicago – the big city, the action – that’s what I wanted. I’m assigned to a Special Operations Heavy Rescue. We’re going to fires, into collapsed buildings, pulling out people trapped under rubble, saving people in elevators, SCUBA diving into Lake Michigan, and dangling from ropes on the side of buildings and cranes.”
King doesn’t have an exact race mapped out for 2019, but he’s looking to run 10 to12 NHRA events.
“We can’t wait to get out there and spread our public-safety message across the country,” he said. “Our plan is to hit at least 10 races, but we’re open to more if we can find the support and funding. The more people we can get in front of, the more people we can help be fire-safe. That’s the goal of The Ronnie Thames Foundation and my goal as firefighter.”
King plans on using his drag racing venture as a vehicle to promote firefighting.
“We’re going to have midway space at the track, a Fire Safety Zone, and do ‘Safety Blitzes’ at every event we attend,” he said. “Kids can learn fire safety and how to get out of a fire, all while having a good time bouncing around in the Fire Safety Zone. I’ve partnered up with The Ronnie Thames Foundation, and every Wednesday or Thursday before a race we’ll hand out fire extinguishers and smoke detectors to low-income families and have fire trucks, the race car, and police vehicles on display in a way that promotes the race, the sponsors, and the department. We’re still looking for sponsorship support, but I’m 100 percent optimistic that with hard work, dedication, and perseverance, we’ll make this happen. I’ve gotten a lot of help and advice from some big-name people in nitro so far – Jack Beckman, Tommy DeLago, Brian Corradi, Nicky Boninfante, Paul Smith, and some of the NHRA staff. The nitro family is a lot like the fire department, a tightknit group that looks out for each other and loves what they do.”
King’s ascension to the nitro Funny Car ranks has been a work in progress for some time and it was accelerated several years ago.
“I’ve always wanted to get to the big leagues, and a few years ago I decided I was going to work my butt off and make things happen.” King said. “I always wished I had the means and the funds to do it myself, but I’m coming from nothing, no name, broke as a joke, and now I have a nitro license just from perseverance and hard work. You talk to people, and they never say what they wish they hadn’t done – they talk about what they wish they had done. With the job I have, you just never know. We see friends and co-workers dying at work sometimes and knowing that you might not come home from a shift makes you look at things a little differently. Now’s the time to make it happen, and I want to live life to the fullest and enjoy.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019