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Starting in ’71, this writer was immersed in Pro Stock racing on the west coast. My wife, who is the editor of this column, was a full time employee of Orange County Int. Raceway and at this time, Mike Jones was still in charge.
It was a very good year, particularly if you were Jim Dunn or Joe Reath! This well known dynamic duo dominated Funny Car racing at the beginning of the year, and then kept the pressure on the wide array of challengers until the final event. One reward for their performance was a documentary, Funny Car Summer, which featured the rear engine F/C pictured above.
In fact, as the year began, the Dunn & Reath duo set the Southern California Funny Car scene on fire with back to back wins in just four days, first at OCIR and then at Irwindale. And in those days, the winter months found many of the Nation’s best race cars head-quartered in So-Cal. At the All-Pro event at Orange County, Jim clipped Gene Snow in the final; while at Irwindale on New Year’s Day, he stopped Tom McEwen!
In my broad travels and experiences with the racing world, no other driver has crossed my path as has ‘Big’ Jim Dunn. Way back in 1963, we were hauling our new AA/R all around the country trying to get in some track time because the snow was three feet deep in Kahoka, Mo.
First we went to the NASCAR Speedweeks in Daytona Beach, and then west to California for the March Meet at Bakersfield. At the ‘Patch’, we were trounced by a little yellow Fiat altered with a blown Chevrolet for power. Yep, it was Dunn, Merritt, and Velasco!