In his first year of NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series competition, young Hunter Green took the reins of a Randy Meyer Racing Top Alcohol Dragster and dug in his spurs. He didn't exactly grow up in the sport — has father, Chad Green, got his start in drag racing less than a decade ago — but the Texas native was fully primed once the gate opened, and he's not looking to slow down anytime soon.
Green was focused solely on running national events in his debut season and went rounds at all but one of the five races he entered. In Dallas at the Texas NHRA FallNationals, Green qualified for an event in which 23 cars were vying for position, and he reached the semifinals.
"Before this year, I was just helping out on my dad's Funny Car team and the Pro Mod car, so I've only been around it now seven years," he said. "For this being the first season, I think it went pretty well."
The semifinals finish in Dallas was one of two significant moments for Green this past year; he also took a big leap and licensed in Top Fuel. The magnitude of that jump comes into better perspective when the recent history of the Green family is taken into consideration: in 2019, Green stood on the starting line at the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis and observed his father's brutal Pro Mod crash that left him with a broken back and a tough road to recovery.
Although his dad found vindication by coming back and winning at Indianapolis Raceway Park the following season, the horrific display had left its mark.
"I was a little nervous to do this at first," admitted Green. "I was on the starting line when my dad crashed, and the only thing I remember was the fear and needing to get down there to check on him. I was scared for a long time; we didn't know what was wrong with him, all we knew was that they had to take him out on a stretcher, then I saw all his pain. It was rough, and I thought racing was something I didn't want to do. But eventually, I decided to try Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School."
Green licensed first in Super Gas, getting a feel for the dragstrip from inside a race car for the first time.
"Those are 9-second cars, and I was like, 'Wow, this feels so fast,' " he continued. "I couldn't imagine what it would feel like to go 3 or 4 seconds. I didn't think there was any way I could do that, and at first, it made me even more scared to get in something like a nitro Funny Car or Top Fuel dragster. But I decided to go to the [next-faster] Frank Hawley class – Top Dragster – and that went even better than Super Gas. The itch for racing wasn't there initially, but it slowly came on. Now I love it."
Green made his first full pass at preseason testing in Phoenix and earned his Top Fuel license early in the year. Initially, he intended to make his Top Fuel debut in 2022, but the plan did not come to fruition. In a full return to good form, though, his father made an excellent go and raced 18 of the 22 races on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series schedule, gathering steam with two semifinal-round appearances and gaining ever-more knowledge about the inner workings of a nitro team.
His son has been paying attention every step of the way, and he sees a bright future for them both.
"We're getting our foot in the door right now, and if we can get my dad's operation funded with more sponsorship, we would eventually like to add Top Fuel to this, too," said Green. "The goal is for me and him to be racing side by side, eventually, as a father-and-son nitro team. Next year, our goal is to do more races in Top Alcohol Dragster than we did this year – at least six – and also do a Top Fuel race. I want to get started on that as soon as possible.
"As for Pro Mod, it's one of the most entertaining classes out there, and I still love watching them. But I think guys that do that are crazy, and I have no desire to get into them. I think I'll stick with the nitro cars."