In the world of American performance cars, few vehicles have the racing heritage of the Chevrolet Camaro. The classic Camaro was a leader on the drag strip and in the ranks of Trans Am racing and in the modern era of the Camaro name, it is featured in NASCAR and a long list of road racing associations. In every type of racing where a Camaro has participated, the classic Chevy muscle car has won championships, but 2017 marks the first time that a Camaro-based funny car has won the NHRA Funny Car Championship.
NHRA Funny Car Champions Since 1970
On the NHRA website, they have a list of funny car champions dating back to 1970 and in that time, I have not been able to find a single driver who spent the season in a Chevrolet Camaro funny car. There are drivers who spent time in Camaros and there is a long list of drivers who won funny car championships in other GM vehicles – including the Pontiac Firebird and the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supremes that John Force drove to titles – but dating back to 1970, no funny car champions were campaigning a Camaro.
In other words, Robert Hight’s 2017 NHRA Funny Car Championship in the John Force Racing-owned, AAA Auto Club-sponsored Chevrolet Camaro gives the legendary American muscle car nameplate its first title at the highest level of bodied-car car drag racing. Mind you, there have been countless Camaros driven to championships in other forms of drag racing but when it comes to the NHRA’s quickest branded drag racing (not counting the rail cars in the Top Fuel class), this is the first championship for the Camaro.
The 2017 Championship Run
After struggling through the early part of the season, Robert Hight and his Chevrolet Camaro came charging to the top of the leaderboard in the latter stages of the first 18 races on the schedule. This is significant because those first 18 races set up the 6-race Countdown to the Championship shootout between the top 10 drivers from the first 18 races. Although Ron Capps had a huge lead headed into the Countdown, the reset of the points allowed Hight to close the gap in the title run. From there, he won two of the final six races and finished stronger than Capps in two other races, allowing the John Force Racing driver to tie down his second career funny car title and the first ever funny car title for the Chevrolet Camaro.
Image: John Force Racing