Veteran NHRA Funny Car driver Chuck Etchells passes away at 61

(Photo: Jamie Squire /Allsport)
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The drag racing world is mourning former NHRA Funny Car driver Chuck Etchells, who passed away Wednesday at the age of 61.

Details of Etchells’ death and funeral arrangements have not been revealed.

A longtime resident of Putnam, Connecticut, Etchells scored 15 wins in his NHRA Funny Car career: 13 as a driver and two additional wins as a team owner, according to a report by NHRA.com.

Although he never won a NHRA Funny Car championship in his career, Etchells was a prolific and successful drag racer, including being the first driver in Funny Car history to break the four-second barrier in 1993 when he ran 4.987 second elapsed time at Topeka, Kansas.

That year proved to be the most successful of Etchells’ career, as he finished second-place in the season championship to John Force.

Etchells retired from driving after 1998 and hired Whit Bazemore to replace him behind the wheel. Bazemore left the team after 2000 and Etchells came out of retirement in 2001, running about two-thirds of the season before retiring for a second and final time.

According to the NHRA story, Etchells’ survivors include wife Shelley and daughter Erica.

From a personal standpoint, I covered Etchells during much of his NHRA tenure. He was one of the most accommodating drivers there was, and had a great sense of humor.

Rest in peace, Chuck.