Already a major event winner in Pro Mod and a world champion in Top Alcohol Dragster, Jim Whiteley has now reached the summit in a third top-tier drag racing category: Top Alcohol Funny Car, where wife Annie has been winning for years.
At the Xtreme Texas World Finals, the grand finale of the 2022 Mid-West Drag Racing Series, the Whiteleys finally got the matchup both have envisioned since the day Jim first climbed in a Funny Car: husband vs. wife with an event title on the line. The only thing better would have been a side-by-sider right to the lights like so many their other matchups this season.
Instead, Annie blew the tires off in low gear and Jim streaked ahead for the win, his first at the controls of a Funny Car. “Now, that was fun,” he said. “Winning feels just as good as it ever did. I just wish it would’ve been a close race.” It was anything but – his 3.68 at 209 mph easily outdistanced Annie’s harmless 7.62 at 58 mph.
“I guess that was just one run too many on that set of tires,” she said. “It was going to be the last run on them anyway, but it looks they were 35-run tires, not 36-.” Until the very end, every pass she made was a keeper, including a 3.63/213, 3.64/212, and 3.66/211 in qualifying, which added up to not just low e.t. but top speed of all three sessions for her first No. 1 since the rescheduled Memphis race completed in Tulsa.
Both Whiteleys covered the eighth-mile Xtreme Raceway Park course in 3.63 seconds in qualifying, Annie at a booming 213.47 mph and Jim at 211.17. He edged Steve Macklyn in the first round in the best race of the event, 3.70/207 to 3.71/203, after an almost dead-even start. She stayed in the .60s with a 3.669 on the first-round single she earned for qualifying No. 1, then beat newly crowned MWDRS champion Chris Marshall’s event-best 3.63 with an another 3.669 on his red-light start.
When Jim ran within two-thousandths of a second of Annie’s semifinal time on a 3.671 single, the table was set for a classic side-by-side final, the race they’ve been dreaming of. But after a perfect start, nearly identical .030 lights, that dream literally went up in smoke. “I didn’t really care who won,” Annie said. “I just wanted us both to run well, and I really thought we would. We had been all weekend, right?”