Legendary drag racing owner/driver ‘Big Jim’ Dunn to undergo surgery for colon cancer

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ESPN drag racing analyst Mike Dunn will physically be in Denver next weekend when the NHRA kicks off its noted three-race, mid-summer “western swing,” which goes from Denver to Sonoma, Calif., and concludes in Seattle.

But a good part of Dunn’s mind and emotion will likely be back home in Southern California, focused on the progress and recovery from surgery of his father, legendary team owner and former driver “Big Jim” Dunn.

Jim Dunn, who turned 80 in March, is slated to undergo surgery for colon cancer next week, according to a news release issued Wednesday by NHRA officials.

With what the team and Dunn family patriarch will go through, the entire Jim Dunn Racing team and the Grime Boss Funny Car will miss all three races of the western swing, team officials also announced Wednesday.

Dunn’s pre-surgical prognosis is good, according to doctors, who believe the cancer has been caught in its earliest stages.

“We are grateful that this was discovered during his annual physical.” said Jon Dunn, Jim’s other son and team business manager. “Early diagnosis is crucial in his treatment and recovery. I can’t think of a single NHRA event Dad has missed, and know it won’t be long before he’s back.”

The elder Dunn has been drag racing for 64 years. He raced competitively behind the wheel from 1950 to 1990 before retiring to become a team owner and crew chief.

The team is expected to rejoin the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series in time for the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota, Aug. 15-17.

Fans attending any of the three western swing races will have the opportunity to sign a large get-well card for Dunn, one of the most respected members of the drag racing community.

In addition, fans can post get-well wishes to the Grime Boss Facebook page (facebook.com/GrimeBoss).

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Position of F1 start lights altered to compensate for safety halo

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The position of start lights will be altered on Formula One tracks this season, in a bid to ensure the drivers’ line of vision is not impeded by the controversial halo protection device.

The halo is a titanium structure introduced this year in a bid to ramp up driver safety, forming a ring around the cockpit top. It is designed to protect the drivers’ head from loose debris and offer better safety during eventual collisions.

Although drivers largely understand the need for it, very few like it. They are worried it impedes visibility, it looks ugly and also that fans will no longer be able to identify a driver properly from his race helmet. Drivers also take longer to climb in and out of their cars.

Formula One’s governing body has addressed concerns and asked every circuit “to make the lights at a standard height above the track,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting said.

“Pole position seems to be the worst case scenario with the halo,” Whiting added at the season-opening Australian GP. “Maybe the driver can’t quite see the lights, or see only half of them, and he might have to move his head too much.”

The new start lights were positioned lower for Friday’s first two practice sessions at Albert Park. Drivers were also allowed the rare chance to rehearse grid starts at the end of both sessions.

“We haven’t normally allowed practice starts on the grid here because it’s quite a tight timetable,” Whiting said. “What I thought would be a good idea was to give the driver sight of those lights, rather than for the first time on Sunday evening.”

A repeat set of lights has been moved from its usual position halfway up the grid to a more convenient position to the left.

“Those repeat lights were normally halfway up the grid, and they were fitted round about 2009, when the rear wings became higher on the cars,” Whiting said. “But now the wings have been lowered, there’s no need for those halfway up the grid.”