Now newly licensed to run in NHRA Top Fuel, Hunter Green was once adamant against ever getting behind the wheel of a drag car. It was through his work with his father, NHRA Funny Car and Pro Mod pilot Chad Green, though, that he quickly changed his mind and decided to take on the challenge.
Spurred on by his interest in Funny Cars, the elder Green obtained his Alcohol Funny Car license through Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School. Chad went overseas to Bahrain for a Pro Mod event in 2017 and was put in touch with 16-time NHRA champion John Force. Force introduced Green to NHRA Funny Car legend Tim Wilkerson, and Wilkerson agreed to help Chad obtain his nitro fuel car license.
“I went to the spring training in Arizona that year to make my first few runs, then finished up my license at Charlotte later in the year,” recalled Chad, who kept up with the demands of driving a nitro-fueled monster by making a few hits each year in Wilkerson’s ride at the annual Arizona event. “I was running the Pro Mod at the time, but towards the end of 2020, I decided to go run in Funny Car, too.”
With Wilkerson’s team housing his fuel car operation and handling the required maintenance in between outings, Chad raced at two events in his first season. While still running his Pro Mod car, Chad stepped up to eight events in 2021, but for 2022, he went big and committed to 19 of the 22 races on the NHRA tour. Previously, he had been operating with a part-time crew, but hired on the group – including crew chief Daniel Wilkerson – full-time for the more intensive schedule.
Hunter, however, had been helping Chad for years already – especially on the Pro Modified side of things. The 27-year-old handles everything from marketing and social media to packing the parachutes and learned the racing ropes as he went. Additionally, Hunter also works with his father at their family’s Texas-based Bond-Coat Inc. business, an industry leader in external casing and tubing coatings for corrosion prevention.
I love racing with my son and never pushed him to be a drag racer. I believe if you’re going to do this, you need to have a passion for it that no one else can give you. – Chad Green
“When I first started watching my father, I thought there was no way I could ever do it… especially because he had a couple crashes early on in his Pro Mod career,” laughed Hunter, whose hesitation didn’t last long. “I eventually went to Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School for the Super Gas class over the winter between 2019 and 2020.”
Admittedly nervous to be behind the wheel, Hunter’s first run was a bit hectic, but his second was stronger and bolstered his confidence. Thanks to the school’s team, he quickly got up to speed piloting the mid-level machine and gained a ton of perspective that inspired him to want to run even quicker.
Hunter soon obtained his Top Alcohol Dragster license during preseason testing with Randy Meyer Racing. “I’ve always gravitated towards the sleek look of a dragster,” shared the young man of his second experience in early 2021. Roughly six short months later, he found himself stepping up to another level yet again. “Tim Wilkerson got a Top Fuel dragster, and we were in Ennis [Texas] after the [NHRA] race and he asked if I wanted to make a few hits. I was overconfident, thinking it would be similar to the Top Alcohol Dragster, just faster.”
The reality check that followed was sharp and swift. When backing up after the burnout on the first run, Hunter had trouble and wound up locking the steering wheel to the point where a crewman had to manually straighten out the car with his hands. “I was embarrassed but tried my best not to let things unravel,” confessed the aspiring racer who finally got lined up and ready to rip. “That car scared me so bad that I lifted just past the 60-foot mark. It was like getting punched in the face!”
On each of his next two hits, Hunter made it about halfway down the track, then called it a day. Wanting it to be a more positive experience for the rookie racer, Wilkerson suggested Hunter work with Randy Meyer to get some more seat time in a Top Alcohol Dragster before trying Top Fuel again.
Back in Arizona in early 2022, Hunter made seven runs in the Randy Meyer Racing A/Fuel dragster. “Then, I got back into the Top Fuel Dragster and licensed in both Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Fuel in the same weekend,” outlined Hunter of the exciting adventure.
Just a few weeks later, Hunter made his NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster debut at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the 4-Wide Nationals. “Working with Randy has been great. He’s always calm and collected and a fantastic teacher who’s never disappointed in me,” added Hunter, grateful for the opportunity to work with the famed multi-time champion and record holder. “I want to race with him as much as I can until the Top Fuel thing comes to fruition.”
That car [Top Fuel] scared me so bad that I lifted just past the 60-foot mark. It was like getting punched in the face! – Hunter Green
Given that Hunter never thought he would be driving something as extreme as a nitromethane-fueled dragster, the fact that he found himself at the pinnacle of drag racing – and only roughly one year after earning the right to race a Top Alcohol Dragster – was a huge surprise to himself.
“I love racing with my son and never pushed him to be a drag racer. I believe if you’re going to do this, you need to have a passion for it that no one else can give you,” Chad said. Chad was actually more comfortable with the idea of Hunter driving the nitro-injected rocket than a doorslammer, as he knows the Pro Mod cars can be tougher to drive and believes Top Fuel is safer by comparison. “Hunter had seen me crash and I know that was tough on him, but he’s very competitive and I’m really proud of how well he is doing.”
Hunter shares the same sentiments and knows there are some inherent perks to being the boss’s son. Although his father didn’t urge him to follow in his footsteps, it was Hunter that pushed Chad to go for it. “The Pro Mod was expensive, and I figured if we were going to spend that much, we might as well go fuel car racing,” joked Hunter. “This is the most fun we’ve ever had, and on a big stage. Dad went 3.88 in Charlotte – a new personal best for him.”
So far in 2022, Hunter has had four opportunities to race Randy Meyer’s Top Alcohol Dragster in NHRA competition and has one event left to go. However, with his father’s hectic schedule with the Chad Green Motorsports team, Hunter hasn’t lacked for time at the track.
Together with help from the Team Wilkerson Racing group, the two Green men are working towards a future where they each have their own NHRA nitro team. Chad intends to run in Funny Car full-time, while Hunter is hungry to get rolling with Top Fuel, but both are actively pursuing sponsorships and marketing partners to make their dream of a two-car father-and-son team a reality.