Kelly Chadwick, a longtime NHRA Funny Car and Pro Stock racer, died Sept. 26.
Long before Pro Stock great Warren Johnson was dubbed “the Professor,” that nickname belonged to Chadwick, a former high school teacher turned full-time racer. He got his start with a former student of his, Don Hardy (who would go on to great fame as a chassis builder), with a B/Gas ‘32 Ford that killed them on the AHRA circuit and was the dominant car at Amarillo Dragway.
A Texan by way of California and Oklahoma, Chadwick also was a good friend of Chevy stalwart Dickie Harrell, and Chadwick’s Chevy-powered Funny Cars — built by Hardy — were among the strongest of the breed, even in the face of the Hemi insurgence of the early 1970s. He was the champion of the first Coca-Cola Cavalcade of Stars circuit in 1970 and ran Funny Cars until 1972, then moved to Pro Stock (Chevy-powered, of course) before retiring from driving.