No matter your age, you can still keep doing what you love. And so it is with one of drag racing’s veteran drivers Carol “Bunny” Burkett. At 70 years of age, Bunny continues to be involved in drag racing competition. Known as the First Lady of Funny Cars, Bunny travels and competes with her team as “Bunny and the Boys.” (www.bunnyburkett.com)
Told many years ago that “women can’t drag race,” Bunny has of course, proved them all wrong. She went on a mission…and is still kicking butt in the funny car, drag racing community. Bunny has set numerous quarter-and-eight-mile world records and is the first and only female driver to win an NHRA national event in Alcohol Funny Car Competition (1986).
In September 1995 at the Beaver Springs Dragway during her 31st season racing, Bunny experienced a near fatal accident where a fellow competitor rammed her car at over 200 mph. Miraculously she survived the crash and rebounded to continue racing for several years afterward.
The National Hot Rod Association dates back to the mid-20th Century; the golden era during the mid-1960s-to early 70s. Big money was being thrown around during these tentative years; some of which went into added ‘showmanship’ sponsors, manufacturers and promoters who were eager to enroll “trophy girls” and other so-called “cheesecake” to draw a crowd.
Famous female drag racers during those years included Shirley Muldowney, Pam Hardy, brought on to assist flamboyant funny driver Jim Lieberman in the early 1970s, Shirley Sahan, Paula Murphy, and Linda Vaughn-“Miss Hurst Golden Shifter.” Vaughn was driving during the 1960s, in her 1969 Olds 4-4-2, as well as visiting military vases with other male drivers.
The IHR and NHRA rosters were rife with female racers, and Bunny was one of the most notable. Burkett, whose career has been one of the most storied and longest-running, is an IHRA World Champion, an NHRA Division II Champion and the 1991 IHRA U.S. Open Nationals Champion (see the list below for her awards).
When asked if she would refer to herself as the “First Lady of Drag Racing,” Bunny would decline, instead deferring to Shirley Muldowney. Although Bunny will own the “First Lady of Funny Cars” title. Never feeling any push back from the male drivers on the circuit, Bunny did however, as late as 1972 receive a “Ladies Driver Permit” from the NHRA when racing. Mind you, no such ‘permit’ was issued to male drivers.
Bunny’s career spans a lot of years and is coming up on her 50th in the business. Her team of fellas is getting ready to celebrate, and it all began for Bunny with a E/S 1965 Mustang. A for- sure hit with the media, Bunny has the charm, good looks and talent it takes to promote. Having given numerous interviews and celebrity appearances during her long career, she is an example of what’s possible-well into your “senior years” with talent and grit.
50 Years of Racing Wins
1986 IHRA World Champion
NHRA Division !! Champion
Super Stock Hall of Fame
East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame
Little Guys Nationals Hall of Fame
Maryland International Raceway Hall of Fame
York US 30 Legions of Honor
Drag Racing List / Racin'& Rockin' Radio's #1 Female
Alcohol Funny Car Driver of ALL Time!
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