Bunny
Burkett

LATEST SNIPPET

  I have trained my Godson, Gary "Lil Bear" Pritchett, to drive my second funny car and we match race when ever we can work out both of our schedule. I am in the middle of building / resurrecting a nostalgia 1979 Corvette Body Funny Car, painted Pink, campaigning Breast Care Awareness at this time. Will be racing in alot of nostalgia events along with my match racing during my 45th year of racing.

Direct access to this web page: http://bit.ly/9b6re8

Profile
Results
That Day
Schedule

Snippets
Related Issue: Women Racers Directory, Women in Racing, Women Racers, More Women in Racing, Race Schedules, Notable Women
Contact:
eMail | www.bunnyburkett.com

Profile

Birthdate: 5/29/45
Birthplace: Franklin, West Virginia
Current Home: Spotsylvania, Virginia
Phone: 540-582-8560
Who started you: Husband MO
Biggest influence: Husband MO
Women you admire: Melanie Troxel
Fathers Thoughts: He Approved
Your encouragement: GO FOR IT!
Description: I just want to be known as a GOOD Driver/Racer, not a Lady Driver/Racer. 2010 is my 45th Anniversary in Drag Racing and glad to report that I am now 65 years old.....And still going!
Photo: IHRA.com

Snippets

Results

IHRA World Champion
NHRA Div 2 Champion
Only woman to win a National Event in Top Alcohol Funny Car
East Coast Hall of Fame
Lil\' Guys Nationals Hall of Fame
Super Stock Hall of Fame
Legends of MIR Hall of Fame
Legions of Honor @ York US30

Schedule

The Birth of Bunny

Bunny has helped to shape the face of racing to what we know it as today. A symbol of determination, courage and inspiration, she has faced at times what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles to remain true to her beloved sport.

Left without a vehicle and blessed with the arrival of their second daughter, The Burkett's were faced with a decision. Bunny had not been working during this time and they were in need of work transportation and a race car. Fortunately, Baltimore was not that far away from their home in the eastern part of Virginia. In search of work, Bunny heard there was a Playboy Bunny Club there where she might be able to make some money. "I knew all I had to do was push'em up and smile," Bunny said." It was a classy place and it worked for me!"

Using a borrowed car for transportation, she worked just long enough to save up the $4000 needed to purchase a 1967 Mustang. It wasn't long before she took her new steed off the road and turned it into a racecar. With the purchase of a ramp truck they were off racing three nights a week.

In recognition of her desire to get back on the track, Nelson Grimes painted on the back of her car " Lead Foot Bunny." Over time it was the inevitable "Bunny" that would give her the identity that would stick with her udoubtedly for the rest of her life.

In 1973, Bunny started on her way to becoming a professional driver behind the wheel of a nine-second Pinto Pro Stocker. She later traded it for her first Funny Car.

With no highschool diploma, two children and a racing habit to feed, Bunny knew that in order to take the next step, she would need to come up wiyh some more money. She decided to take a position with an office supply company. Applying the same dedication and determination to her work as she did toward racing, it wasn't long before she found herself working up the chain of command.

"Working three days a week, I managed to get enough money to get to the track," Bunny added. "Eighteen years later, I worked my way to a Vice President's position and I did it all without having an education." Over time, it became a challenge to maintain her busy schedule, and Bunny was faced with a decision to keep her job or continue racing.

" It's very hard to juggle family, husband and racing, so I told the job to take a flying leap."

Going Pro

Being a female in the world of drag racing had a few perks for Bunny. She began match racing, which was an ideal situation seeing as how she was paid to race at a track as opposed to paying to race at the facility. At the time there were few other females in the ranks, but as time went on, she and carol henson were the two that managed to hang on.

In 1973, Bunny started on her way to becoming a professional driver behind the wheel of a nine-second Pinto Pro Stocker. By 1975 it was too slow to keep her interest and she quickly tired of it. A year later, she and Mo made a decision that would impact both of their lives as well as that of the sport. In a trade deal,she bartered her Pro Stock car for a Mustang Funny Car. In 1986 Bunny's racing career hit a high as she earned the World Championship in IHRA Funny Car. In doing so, she also became the first female IHRA champion. During the same season, she finished no. 4 in NHRA and won the Division 2 NHRA title.

It was time for rejoicing and enjoying what seemed like a lifetime of hard work. "I had wanted to win a chapionship my whole life," Bunny said. "We proved that we can do whatever we want to do. I worked very hard at it and it paid off."

The Crash

After winning the championship, Bunny continued to chase her dreams on the national and local circuits, racing whenever the opportunity presented itself. Still working on a small budget, she began to make her living on the match racing scene. A fan favorite still to this day, Bunny is known for putting her fans first and putting on a dazzling show. Bunny has fans standing with one of her signature burnouts.

In 1995 Bunny debuted a new car and took it to a match race at Beaver Springs Dragway in Pennsylvania, a race that she had attended the previous ten years. As the competitors for the day's race drew for lanes, a fellow race drew longtime driver Carl Ruth. Not wanting to compete against Ruth, he traded his draw with Bunny, a move that would change the rest of her life. " Carl is my friend. I've raced him all my life and I said I would race him again," Bunny recalled.

As Bunny and Ruth did their burnouts all seemed normal. " He was the slower car and got out in front of me. He bobbled some and I thought he was coming over. He was in high gear, crossed lanes and hit my wheelie bar. I made a dead left-hand turn and head down into the grass wide-open." That was the last thing Bunny would remember about that day or the following four weeks that ensued. " I never knew what happened." With broken arms, legs, and vertabrae, the fate of Bunny's life was left hanging in the balance. If she survived, would she ever walk again? Would she remain in a vegetative state? Racing wasn't even a consideration.

Life or Death

"I passed away and was brought back to life three times." - Bunny Burkett

The one thing she loved the most, the thing that kept her going was irrevocably ripped from her.

After 39 hours of surgery and seven days of not knowing if she would live or die, Bunnys spirit and determination continued to pull her through. After three weeks of being in a coma and despite devastating injuries to her body, she had defeated the odds and survived her ordeal. The road ahead would not be easy, but as always, Bunny would face all the obstacles and find a way to continue towards her goal of returning to the sport that had nearly taken her life.

Recovery

Bunny's life had changed. No longer could she do the simplest of things. She spent the next nine months paralyzed , with a catheter. "I felt so sorry for myself, and had worked myself into a fit of depression," Bunny said.

In the midst of trying to come to grips with the new chance at life she had been given, she was unsure what her future would hold. It didn't take long for Bunny to figure out what her next move would be. Knowing that racing was the one thing that would motivate her to get better, she struck a deal with her husband, Mo. "Mo told me that 'if you can get better, we will get you another race car.'" That was all the motivation that she needed. "Mopar stepped up to the plate and said that when I got 'my' body fixed they would give me a new one.

One year later, Bunny climbed into a Junior Dragster and made her return to the track official by making a pass down the 1/8th mile. "Nothing can stop you if you want it bad enough." For Bunny, nothing will ever be the same. She still suffers from paralyses and is forced to deal with the handicaps and ramifications of having her body destroyed.

" I can't drive the way I used to and that is very hard. I see the dissapointment in the crew and I want badly to go rounds," Bunny said. "It forced me to move on and set my goals higher. The Lord just nudged me along the way."

In 1997 Bunny Burkett climbed back into the seat of her Funny Car and made her comeback at Virginia Motorsports Park. After completing her first pass, the skies opened up and it began to rain. " I take that as God saying 'You Go Girl'!"

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