I acquired my first sponsor when I was 16 years old while working the drive-thru window at a local fast food chain in 1992. As a brand new truck pulled to the cashier window I was impressed by the fancy lettering promoting their powder coating company. With complete confidence, I passed the patron their bag of roast beef sandwiches and french fries while asking the question, “how would you like to sponsor a funny car?”. That simple interaction at a very young age resulted in a rewarding marketing partnership that was happy to powder coat anything and everything our team dropped off at their shop.
I grew up in a racing family and it has always been the dining room table talk of what sponsors we were closing the deal on to go full time drag racing. I envisioned at a young age my entire life changing with a single chance deal that would promote my father to the level of full time NHRA Nitro Funny Car owner/driver. I embodied his devotion to believing in the little guy making the big deal and supported in any way I could; eventually securing small sponsorships myself. Growing up in a racing family meant that we all sacrificed in order to buy the next needed part. In fact, after graduating high school and being accepted to a few respected colleges, I was unable to attend because the cost to attend was beyond our family budget. Therefore, I forged my own path by enlisting in the military. I joined the United States Air Force and was trained as an Aircraft Electrical Environmental Specialist.
Work Hard, Don’t Give Up
I bought my first dragster four years after enlisting in the Air Force and was excited to begin filling the sides of the car with names of my supporters. Little did I realize just how difficult acquiring sponsorship would be. I quickly realized that if I wanted to race, I would have to be the one to earn the money to do so. I served my country, started small businesses, worked part-time jobs, and attended college at night. I obtained my bachelor’s degree and applied to Officer Training School because the pay scale between an E-5 and an O-1 was a vast improvement. Fortunately, this also offered me the opportunity to achieve another life-long dream of becoming a pilot. I made more money, and I was able to race more. I bought my first funny car while attending USAF Undergraduate Pilot Training. When you hear motivational “experts” talk about hustling and grinding, that’s exactly what I did. I often told myself that once I advanced to the next level, it would be easier to attract sponsors. I advanced from alcohol funny car to nostalgia nitro funny car with little financial help. I’ve put some deals together and I’ve gotten some help along the way, but never the life-changing sponsor we all hope for.
Sometimes things in life just fall into your lap like it’s meant to be. For the most part, I had given up on the dream I had since I was 8 years old to be a professional NHRA Nitro Funny Car owner/driver. I had spent over a decade chasing that dream, hustling and grinding. The harder I worked it seemed like the further the dream was sliding away. As I was approaching my USAF retirement in 2015 an opportunity to purchase a professional funny car became available and I jumped at it. I had no idea how I was going to do it, but I just believed. I had faith that it would work out; it just felt right.
In less than a year we have built the No Mercy Nitro Funny Car and we have made successful early testing/license upgrade passes. I was optimistic we could obtain marketing partners that would recognize the effort and sacrifice it takes a career military veteran to build something well above his means. I was sure they would see the virtue of an independent team attempting to challenge corporate America multi-mega race teams. Some have, and we are so thankful for their support. I believe others will join us when they hear our story so please share it with your friends, family, bosses, and colleagues. I believe this is our moment and it is a matter of time until someone recognizes our effort and believes in the No Mercy Nitro Funny Car team.
My name is Chris Bennett and I am a veteran. I served my country 20 years as an enlisted airman and commissioned officer. My lifelong dream and ambition was recorded in a 3rd grade assignment in which I proclaimed I would be a NHRA Funny Car World Champion. I’m chasing that dream, one step at a time, not one step back. I am the owner/driver of the No Mercy Racing Nitro Funny Car. Believe in our dream and join us as we prove that anything is possible. PERSEVERANCE, PERSISTENCE, NO MERCY!