RACER'S SCRAPBOOK: Mike Dunn by ProQuest


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                                                                                                                            ne of the reasons why Mike Dunn has been so successful
                                                                                                                            as a color commentator for ESPN’s televised coverage of
                                                                                                                            NHRA national events is that he established a “been
                                                                                                                    there, done that” reputation throughout his long and successful
                                                                                                                    driving career. Dunn enjoys a tremendous relationship with the
                                                                                                                    racers, and he can ask them tough questions and offer a more
                                                                                                                    candid analysis of their performances because competitors regard
                                                                                                                    him as one of them, a racer who paid his dues.
                                                                                                                       Dunn’s accomplishments as a driver are credited to him
                                                                                                                    growing up in a racing environment and learning the craft from
                                                                                                                    his father, “Big Jim” Dunn. Because of his family’s racing
                                                                                                                    background, Mike began competing as a teenager with bicycles and
                                                                                                                    go-karts before obtaining a Top Alcohol Dragster license at age 20
                                                                                                                    in 1976 and a fuel Funny Car license the next season. By winning
                                                                                                                    10 national events in Funny Car and 12 in Top Fuel, he joined Don
                                                                                                                    Prudhomme, Kenny Bernstein, and Gary Scelzi as the only drivers
                                                                                                                    to have won 10 or more events in both nitro categories.
                                                                                                                       During his driving career, Dunn recorded 12 top 10 finishes,
                                                                                                                    four in Funny Car and eight in Top Fuel. His best year was 1991,
                                                                                                                    when he ran the full NHRA schedule for the first time and
                                                                                                                    finished third. His four victories in 1999 with Darrell Gwynn’s
                                                                                                                    Mopar-backed Top Fuel team were a career high.
                                                                                                                       Known as a fitness buff, Dunn has been an avid bicycle
                                                                                                                    enthusiast for nearly 10 years and rides between 4,000 to 5,000
                                                                                                                    miles on an annual basis. He recently took time out from his busy
                                                                                                                    schedule to share his thoughts and recollections on his experiences
                                                                                                                    with National DRAGSTER Associate Editor John Jodauga.

(Above) “Long before I began driving, I helped my dad on his race cars.
This was his first Funny Car that he ran in 1971. He wanted it designed
as much like his Top Fuelers as possible, so he ran it with a 4.56:1 high-
gear-only configuration and a pedal clutch, as opposed to most of the
other cars that still had automatic transmissions. He would push in the
clutch at the 1,000-foot mark, then coast across the finish line to save
parts. It never recorded much speed that way, but it was still pretty
quick because the car was very light. I went through a big learning
curve in those days.” (Right) “After I earned my Funny Car license in
1977 and had worked for a couple of years on Roland Leong’s crew, he
helped me get my first ride, in Bill Schifsky’s Beartown Shaker Ford
Mustang II. We raced mostly on the match race circuit.”

“I returned to Roland’s team in 1981 as the driver of his
King’s Hawaiian Bread Dodge Omn
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