Jim Cunningham, who made his mark on drag racing as a racer, team owner, and track operator, died Aug. 19 following a battle with cancer. He was 76.
Although his core business was a sand and gravel company, Cunningham had several successful drag racing ventures. He was the longtime owner of Capitol Raceway in Maryland and later made a name for himself in Pro Stock, both as a driver and a team owner.
A longtime Ford loyalist, Cunningham has been lauded for the key role he played in helping to facilitate the return of the Ford Mustang to Pro Stock competition after a lengthy absence. Cunningham not only drove his own Pro Stock cars sporadically between 1990 and 2010, but he also launched his own engine-building program based around the Ford engine. His dedication to the sport was admirable; he followed a long string of DNQs with his first qualifying performance at the 2010 Seattle race.
During his stint as a team owner, Cunningham helped launch and further the careers of Erica Enders-Stevens, Grace Howell, 10-time Pro Stock champion Bob Glidden, two-time champion Jim Yates, and most recently, past Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals finalist Lewis Worden.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Pro Mod driver Clint Satterfield has kicked off a multi-race promotion with Sparkling ICE beverages. The popular brand of sparkling flavored water will be represented on Satterfield’s 68 Firebird Pro Mod he affectionately calls “The Turbo Pig.”
On the list of scheduled events for the Sparkling ICE flavored water partnership are the NMCA Muscle Car Nationals in Norwalk, Aug.21–24, the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Aug. 29– Sept. 1, the NHRA Carolina Nationals, Sept. 12– 14, and the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, Sept. 26–28.
“My wife loves Sparkling ICE beverages and turned me on to their line of fruit flavored sparkling waters and lemonades,” said Satterfield. “I’m proud to have Sparkling ICE beverages represented on my Pro Mod car and I want to thank them for their support of my team and drag racing.”
Satterfield and his race car will be making appearances and signing autographs to promote Sparkling ICE flavored water on sale at Menards stores in Indianapolis and St. Louis. Satterfield will also be teaming up with classic rock station Q95 in Indianapolis to give away tickets to the U.S. Nationals, which this year is featuring a big line-up of legendary racers to mark the event’s 60th anniversary.
“Menards is a perfect retail partner for Sparkling ICE beverages and we couldn’t be happier to have brought these two great companies together,” said Brian Skurdal, Director of National Sponsorships with Forward Sports Marketing. "Sparkling ICE beverages is a terrific brand and they’re a great partner for Satterfield Racing. Featuring 17 different flavors, Sparkling ICE flavored water is a great fit for Clint and his team’s fast paced, healthy lifestyle."
Driver and team appearances in advance of the 33rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd Int'l Raceway are listed below.
Popular NHRA Funny Car pilot "Fast Jack" Beckman will be at the Brainerd Walmart supercenter (7295 Glory Road, Baxter, MN 56425) Thursday, Aug. 14. From 5 to 6:30 p.m., the 2012 NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car world champion will meet with NHRA fans for autographs and photos. Fans in attendance could also win tickets to the Brainerd event. The veteran California racer has 15 NHRA Funny Car titles. He qualified No. 1 the past two years in Brainerd and was runner-up in two final-round appearances (2008, 2010).
NHRA fans will have two opportunities to meet NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock driver Dave Connolly, a 24-time event winner in the class, Thursday, Aug. 14. Gray Motorsports driver Connolly and his 214-plus-mph Charter Communications Chevrolet Camaro will first make a stop at Cub Foods at 14133 Edgewood Drive in Baxter from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. From 5 to 7 p.m., Connolly and the car will be at the new Dondelinger Chevrolet location at 6720 Pine Beach Road in Baxter. Both events are free and open to the public, with fans invited to stop by for a signed Connolly Charter Communications autograph card, photo opportunity with Connolly and the car, free food and drink, games, contests, and free Charter-branded backpacks.
Jim Dunn is ready to get back to drag racing. The Jim Dunn Racing team and the Grime Boss Funny Car will return to action in Brainerd. Race fans can meet “Big Jim” and get up close to the Grime Boss Funny Car at the Menards in Baxter Thursday, Aug. 14, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Jeff Arend, driver of the Grime Boss Dodge Funny Car, will also be at the second half of the appearance to meet fans and sign autographs.
“We want to thank all the fans and fellow racers for their support over the past few weeks. The flowers, cards, and the banners everyone signed during the Western Swing meant so much to my dad and our family,” said Jim Dunn Racing Business Manager Jon Dunn. “The team is excited to get back to the track and compete again. We’ve spent the last month preparing the car for our return to the NHRA Mello Yello Series. We are looking forward to a successful outing in Brainerd and welcoming new associate sponsor BZ Twisted Blend Custom Coffee.”
Serving Orphans Worldwide will join Elite Motorsports Pro Stock driver Richie Stevens as an associate sponsor for the upcoming Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis in Indianapolis.
"Serving Orphans Worldwide is thrilled that Elite Motorsports and Richie Stevens believe in the work we are doing globally," said Richard Baker, chief operating officer of Serving Orphans Worldwide. "We are honored to be forging this relationship with people who are as passionate about orphan care as we are."
Serving Orphans Worldwide joins Stevens Collision Center, Stevens Auto Parts, Valspar, and B-V Plumbing in backing Stevens' entry at the U.S. Nationals.
The partnership comes from Serving Orphans Worldwide's relationship with Tom Pierson, a longtime backer of Stevens. Pierson and Baker have been friends for some time.
"We hope to make a big impact in Indy, both on the racetrack and for Serving Orphans Worldwide," Stevens said. "They do a lot of great things for orphans all over the world, and I hope we can take them to Victory Lane."
Stevens is beginning a partnership with Elite at Indy that will continue through the Countdown to the Championship. He will be a teammate to wife Erica Enders-Stevens, who currently leads the points standings in the ultra-competitive class.
Serving Orphans Worldwide has a global footprint supporting 44 orphanages in 25 countries on five continents. The organization's main goal is to rescue struggling orphanages and help provide training to raise standards of care in homes and orphanages. In addition, they also provide the means for the orphanages to pursue self-sustainability.
Every penny donated to Serving Orphans Worldwide goes directly toward orphan care all over the world in a 100 percent approach. Donations are never spent on SOW's administrative costs because the board of directors and their affiliates have committed to underwriting all administration costs.
For more information, visit www.soworldwide.org