• Indiana drag racing pioneer passes away

    January 25, 2012 No comments

    Drag racing pioneer and founder of Indiana’s first permanent drag strip in Bunker Hill (Ind.) Jim Hullinger passed away Monday, January 23rd after a brief illness. 

    Hullinger, 86, constructed Bunker Hill Drag Strip in 1956, and along with his wife Mary and family, operated the track for 40-years before they sold it in 1997 and retired. The track continues to operate as one of the oldest and longest running facilities in the country. 

    After he and other hot rodders in the area were run off of the Converse (Ind.) airport, Jim recognized the need for a permanent facility to provide an organized and safe racing environment. That, along with having seen NHRA’s Safety Safari conduct events at a temporary site at Stout Field in Indianapolis, gave him the inspiration for building Bunker Hill Drag Strip. 

    Before building the drag strip, Hullinger was a prominent stock car and modified racer at dirt tracks at Kokomo Speedway, Warsaw Speedway and other Midwest tracks from 1950 – 1963.

    In 1964, Hullinger designed and built roller platforms dubbed “Safe-Start” to eliminate the dangers of the practice of having to push start dragsters. Due to the success of the units, over 40 were installed at tracks across the country. Not only did the “Safe-Start” provide a safer method of starting cars, but it also made for a more efficient race operations and a better show for the spectators. 

    He served on the Steering Committee which laid the ground work for the NHRA North Central Division E.T. Racing Series. The series, currently sponsored by Summit Racing Equipment, will be in its 36th year in 2012. Hullinger was the first in the country to conduct an all Jr. Drag Racing national event for the new category of racing which was established for kids 8-17 years of age by NHRA in 1992. 

    His son Jay has served as the North Central Division Director since 1987.

    One of five drag racing facilities owned and operated by the National Hot Rod Association, Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis was built in 1960 and has presented organized racing events since 1961. From March through October, the facility hosts more than 120 dates of racing on three tracks, a quarter-mile drag strip, a .686-mile paved oval and a 2.5-mile road course. Home to drag racing’s biggest event, the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals over Labor Day weekend, the drag strip runs more than 50 days of point-to-point action, from national events to street legal community programs. The oval track draws racing’s biggest events including USAC, ARCA and CRA races. The road course provides a home for several racing sanctions, while providing an ideal resource for driving schools, corporate outings and open-road tests for professional drivers.

    Posted by in Local Sports

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