Funny Car Racer Chuck Etchells Dies At 61

Chuck Etchells, a race winner as both a driver and team owner in the NHRA Funny Car class, died Wednesday at the age of 61.

Etchells scored 13 NHRA Funny Car victories during his driving career and 15 as a team owner. He also made the first four-second Funny Car run driving the Kendall Oil Dodge Daytona in 1993.

He began his career as a bracket racer in the Northeast before slowly moving into the National spotlight. He earned his first NHRA Funny Car victory in 1990 at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J. In 1992 he had a breakout season, winning multiple races and finishing in the top-five in the NHRA Funny Car standings despite missing several early season races.

In 1993 Etchells made history by becoming the first driver to record a four-second elapsed time, earning a $25,000 reward posted by Castrol for doing so. He finished second to John Force in the NHRA Funny Car standings that year.

In addition to the 13 races he won as a driver/owner, Whit Bazemore also won two races driving for Etchells in 1999 and 2000, bringing his team owner victory total to 15. Etchells made his last appearance as a driver in 2001, qualifying for 14 events before calling it a career at the end of the season.

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