Racing uniforms stand out from every other uniform in sports because every aspect of the uniform without exception is specifically designed to protect the driver first, and look good second. Unlike in baseball, football, or hockey, where a couple of the visible items protect the wearer, every piece of the uniform, from helmet to boots is designed to protect the driver. One of the more vulnerable areas a driver has is their hands. If a drivers hands are injured, they can’t control their cars, or exit their cars in the event of a wreck. Funny Car drivers have the toughest glove setup in all of auto racing.
Ranked as #27 on the list of the NHRA’s 50 Greatest Funny Car Driver by Motorsport.com, Big Jim Dunn raced for over 40 years as a driver. He could win races driving some of the tougher cars in the series. Dunn began racing in 1953, at the age of 19. By 1965, he was running in Top Fuel, and by 1969, after winning the NHRA Division 7 championship, he switched to Funny Car. He raced until 1990, when he retired as a driver, and switched to team owner. He’s had success as a crew chief, technical adviser, and a team owner. His son Mike has 22 wins, was a long time announcer for the NHRA television team on ESPN, and is currently the president of the IHRA.
At the beginning of the 2015 season, Dunn had to fire driver Jeff Arend due to Grime Boss leaving as a sponsor. Replacing Arend was John Hale. Hailing from Addison, Texas, John Hale currently races for Jim Dunn Racing. He is also active in the Nostalgia Funny Car series in the NHRA. Although he doesn’t have a race win, he finished in the runner up position at the Gatornationals in 2015. He also won a Wally for his Hubert’s lemonade scheme at Norwalk in 2016.Funny Car drivers wear two sets of gloves while driving. One set is similar to what firefighters are wearing. The other is a thick set of gloves that extend all the way up to just below the elbow. They require a crew member to help put them on. This set of gloves worn by John Hale is a perfect example of those gloves.These Simpson SFI 20 rated gloves show decent use with scuff marks and material loss. These gloves are changed several times per year, due to wear. John has autographed both gloves.The right glove has some material loss on the palms, the tag has been destroyed by race use, and John has autographed the glove on the top, near the Simpson logo. The left glove features some light wear on the palms, like the right glove, the tag has been destroyed through race-use, and John signed the bottom of the glove, near the top of the cuff. John also signed this Hubert’s Lemonade hero card. It’s interesting in that it’s a dual-sided card, where both sides of the card are exactly the same. Funny car drivers wear 20 pounds of equipment while racing 2,600 lb, 10,000 horsepower cars at 330 MPH. The dangers of failure are all too obvious. There have been many drivers that have given their lives for the sport they love. Next week, I’ll show some of the perks of winning a national event in the NHRA.