FRANKLIN, W.Va. – Carol Burkett, a drag racer best known by her nickname Bunny, died on Saturday. She was 74 years old.
Taking her nickname from a short stint as a hostess at a Playboy club in Baltimore, Md., she began her drag racing career in 1964. Burkett found the most success in the IHRA, but also found some success in the NHRA.
In the IHRA, she made history by capturing the 1986 IHRA Alcohol Funny Car championship thanks to three victories at Darlington, S.C., Rockingham, N.C., and Martin, Mich.
While she didn’t achieve the same success in the NHRA as she did in IHRA, but she did claim an NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car victory during the NHRA Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in 1986.
That victory made her, at the time, the only woman to win a NHRA national event Funny Car title. She finished fourth in NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car standings that season.
She continued to race until she turned 70 in 2015, overcoming a violent crash in 1995 that left her with two broken vertebrae, a broken wrist and a hairline skull fracture. She will receive receive the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award during the Holley National Hot Rod Reunion, where she will be posthumously honored.