Chris Graves took notice.
Before 2017, there were numerous Funny Cars with no place to race.
“I put on a bunch of different match races and things on at North Star Dragway (in Denton, Texas),” Graves said. “We live in Texas, we are in Street Outlaw country. These tracks are not booking nitro Funny Cars for match races down here. You had all these nitro Funny Cars that are sitting doing nothing. I was trying to put together a show for them just to get my buddies on the race track. By the time you start booking a bunch of Funny Cars, you’re spending a lot of money. I thought hold on for a second, maybe I can make a race out of this.”
In 2017, he developed the idea of Funny Car Chaos. He held an exhibition race in September of that year at North Star Dragway.
“Mark Sanders won that first race and I think we had like 24 cars show up,” Graves said. “Everybody had a great time.”
The success of the that event led to him – in 2018 – forming a four-race exhibition schedule for Funny Car Chaos competitors.
The events took place in Mo-Kan Dragway in Asbury, Mo., at Amarillo (Texas) Dragway, Central Illinois Dragway in Havana and at North Star Dragway.
According to Graves, in 2018, there were 47 Funny Car teams from across the country that competed in the four Funny Car Chaos races.
“We had teams from Reno (Nev.) to South Carolina, and we had 30 cars at our last race (in Denton) last year,” Graves said. “We were starting with something nobody had ever done and going to places that didn’t typically host events like that. We didn’t know what to expect with these four races and lo and behold the car counts were over quota and the stands were overflowing and that really reassured to us that we might have something here. It’s all based on a grassroots approach. I keep things very simple. We are out there to have fun and help each other. These were racers who have Funny Cars but had nowhere to race.”
Graves took a moment to explain how Funny Car Chaos works.
“The whole principle behind Funny Car Chaos is you can run any power combination, any fuel and any body style. You can run a big show car, you can run a small block carbureted 350, it doesn’t matter if it is a flip-top Funny Car with up to date safety stuff, then you’re permitted to enter. We have nitro cars against Top Alcohol cars, we have got big block Chevy cars running against nitro cars and that’s the point of what we are doing. We are not limiting these racers by an extensive rules list that requires heavy involvement in finances. It is whatever you want to run. We are creating a grassroots approach. The racer interest has proven itself and people are excited about it. They know they are going get treated right. They know they are going to have a good time. We are also putting these grassroots racers, who have regular 8 to 5 jobs, in the spotlight.”
At the Funny Car Chaos races, the competitors compete against each other on the eighth-mile.
“Due to the fact that there are no rules in regard to the engine combinations or body styles, etc., the eighth-mile is an equaling factor,” Graves said. “Last year, I tried all kinds of different stuff. At some of the races I had a 16-car field and at Amarillo and Denton I had 24-car fields. We were just testing everything. With the success of the results we had last year, over the winter we decided to put things in a more uniformed approach and run a 16-car field at every race and have the debut of our Best of Texas Barbeque Sauce (own by John Hale) points championship tour presented by Red Line Shirt Club. Other sponsors Alky Digger, Road’s Custom Coffee, Decades of Wheels, S&W Performance Group and Triple C Agency have helped make this possible as well.”
This year the Funny Car Chaos schedule has expanded to seven races: North Star Dragway (March 29-30); Mo-Kan Dragway (April 26-27); Amarillo Dragway (May 31-June 1); Pine Valley Raceway in Lufkin, Texas, (July 5-6); Central Illinois Dragway (July 26-27), US 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Mich., (Sept. 6-7) and the season finale will be at North Star Dragway (Sept. 27-28). Each race will have a $25,000 purse.
“We qualify Friday night and Saturday afternoon with a total of three sessions and we will divide that 16-car field in half and run an ‘A’ field and a ‘B’ field,” Graves said. “With that, you create a bit of fairness in the field. You don’t want a 3.70 guy running a 4.50 guy in first round. We split them up into two 8-car ladders and there actually two winners at every Funny Car Chaos race.”
Graves believes the freedom of the Funny Car Chaos is something competitors welcome.
“The racers enjoy it (Funny Car Chaos) because not only can they get creative and run the combo they like and know, but our No. 1 goal is to have fun,” Graves said. “We are not doing it because somebody is making us do it or a sponsor says we have to do it. At the end of the day, any form of heads up racing is going to eventually become dominated by the dollar, but we are going to do our best to try and equalize the playing field continuously moving forward as best we can. I think we have a pretty good equation right now and I want to try and stay ahead of the evolution and try and keep this thing as grassroots as possible by letting grassroots racers have a successful event and somewhere to go and continue to run at grassroots race tracks. We are going to keep rockin’ these small-town strips and go into places where fans don’t get to see nitro cars or Funny Cars at all.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019