Drag Illustrated Issue 179, November / December 2022 | Page 111



■ AT A YOUNG AGE , Johnna Dunn started wiping out oil pans and grabbing tools for the crew on the Jim Dunn Racing Funny Car entry . It made sense that she would be a track kid – Johnna is the granddaughter of one of the most wellknown nitro racers in NHRA history .
“ My papa , ‘ Big ’ Jim Dunn , has been racing for over 60 years ,” says the now 25-year-old Southern California native , referring to her grandfather and the subject of the legendary drag racing documentary , Funny Car Summer . “ Racing is a family affair for us , so I didn ’ t really have a choice . I was attending events before I could walk , and I ’ m blessed to have grown up at the racetrack sharing the same passion alongside my papa and father .”
Johnna ’ s father , Jon , is the team manager , and he began bringing his daughter to every national event while she was in high school . After Johnna graduated , she took on the public relations role for the Jim Dunn Racing team . For the last two seasons , she ’ s also worked alongside her father as clutch assistant .
“ Although there are young women involved in the sport , it ’ s still shocking to the fans when they see a young lady working hard and getting her hands dirty ,” she says . “ Often times , when a woman is seen in the motorsports world , it ’ s as a promo model or spokesperson . I enjoy working hard with my team , and it ’ s extra rewarding when the young female fans look up to me and want a photo with me . It ’ s [ also ] a true accomplishment to be respected by some of the best mechanics .”
Racing isn ’ t her whole life , though . The youngest Dunn is also a full-time student and parttime employee at St . Jude Medical Center in the Emergency department . Between the race shop , the racetrack , school , and work , there isn ’ t time for much else – but that doesn ’ t mean she doesn ’ t think about what more her life will include in the future .
“ The number one question I get asked is when I ’ m going to drive the Funny Car ,” she said . “ I would love to hop in the seat and drive for my papa ; that is the ultimate goal . My plan has been to learn as much as I can , mechanically , about the car . I believe that will make you a better driver , and it ’ s important to me to understand the car before making any passes in it . These cars are monsters : 330 mph in less than four seconds is insane . My family has been talking about me licensing soon , so we ’ ll see .
“ The thing I ’ m most proud of is my family and the accomplishments made ,” she continues . “ My papa is my hero . He ’ s turning 89 in a few months , attends every event , still builds all the motors himself at the race shop , tunes the Funny Car , and has a consistent car running in the 3.90s .
“ Even on our off weekends you can find us at the racetrack whether it be Irwindale , Bakersfield , or Fontana . The Dunn family eats , sleeps , and breathes racing . My father finds all of our sponsorship , designs the cars , and is our team manager . My grandmother , Diane Dunn , mixes the fuel for the Funny Car . To see the hard work and passion poured into this race team day in and day out gives me more motivation to make my mark in the racing world .” – KELLY WADE DI
November / December 2022 DragIllustrated . com | Drag Illustrated | 111