POMONA, Calif. — For 60-year-old Funny Car driver Johnny Gray and his Pitch Energy team, the 49th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals will be the end.
For Gray and his Don Schumacher Racing team, a group that together has accumulated seven hard earned Funny Car victories over three years, it will be the last time that they will race in their current form.
Gray is hanging up his driving gloves after the final run down the historic race track in Pomona and has pledged to himself, the community, and most importantly to his wife, Terry, that he will no longer chase NHRA championships. His life will no longer be dictated by the exhausting schedule of a full-time professional drag racer.
“This year has just been a blast, and it has been an honor to drive the Pitch Energy Dodge as a tribute to my dad, John R. Gray,” said Gray. “My sister, Terry Chandler, and I came together to do this deal this year, and we were able to keep the team together and have an outstanding regular season that included four wins. I sure wish we could have done better in the Countdown, but we had a real big time, and I won’t ever forget it.”
Gray has won four races this season and led the Funny Car standings at one point.
“You just cannot underestimate this team, especially when we put our heads together with the other DSR crew chiefs,” said Gray. “You can’t ever count us out. Yes, we’ve struggled. But we had a real good test session there in Vegas after the race, and this Funny Car went right down the track making 4.0 runs like there was nothing to it. It appears that we have a racecar that will go A to B again, and if that turns out to be true, well, we will go some rounds and maybe even win the race. That would be a great way to end this, but hey, it’s all good.
“I’m going to tell you, driving a Funny Car out here these past few years has been a tremendous amount of fun,” Gray continued. “I’ve been very blessed to be able to do this. But now, I’m looking forward to putting it behind me and starting the next chapter. I’m ready.”