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Jerry Gwynn Biography




Jerry Gwynn: Life and Accomplishments


Jerry Gwynn is another member of the "Drag Racing Club" who realized early in life that he had a true passion for cars, speed, and competition. Jerry's first car was a 1934 Ford pick-up, and that machine would start a lifetime love affair with the racing world. By 1955, Jerry was not only building his own racecars, but he also built the trailers to haul them. His first super competitive car was a blown Hemi-powered 1923 Ford AA/Altered roadster. Christened "Baby Huey," that car would carry him into the winner's circle numerous times, including a win at the 1969 NHRA World Finals, where he won the Super Eliminator title and was crowned the NHRA World Champion.

Jerry also won four NHRA Southeast Divisional titles in Pro Comp and Top Alcohol Funny Car, along with winning the 1981 NHRA Cajun Nationals. As a crew chief, he won six NHRA Southeast Division "Wrench of the Year" awards for his gifted mechanic ability.

In September 1999, Gwynn, along with his wife, Joan, and son, Darrell, were awarded drag racing's most prestigious honor by Car Craft Magazine — the "Ollie Award" — for citizenship in the sport of drag racing.

In addition to his own success as a driver and tuner, Jerry also played a pivotal role in his son, Darrell's, racing career. Darrell would follow his father's footsteps by becoming the 1983 Top Alcohol Dragster NHRA World Champion, making Jerry and Darrell the first father/son World Champions. As Darrell's racing career blossomed, Jerry transitioned from racer to team manager in the full sense, building and overseeing Darrell Gwynn Racing.

Jerry Gwynn
Race

Work with the Foundation

Jerry's proficient mechanic skills, racing experience, knack for clever solutions, and ability to firmly manage his crew in a demanding sport made him one of the most respected men on the NHRA circuit. In 1985, Darrell moved up to the prestigious Top Fuel Dragster class, and the team continued its winning ways until Darrell's paralyzing accident in 1990 at Santa Pod Raceway. Following his accident, Darrell and his wife, Lisa, started the Darrell Gwynn Foundation. The foundation provides support to people living with paralysis and strives to prevent spinal cord injuries through awareness and education, and Jerry has served on the board of directors since its inception. Jerry's tireless work facilitating operations for the foundation to support its development, fundraising events, and program services has been critical to its success.

Prior to focusing on Darrell Gwynn Racing and the Darrell Gwynn Foundation, Jerry spent 32 years working for the Chevron Oil Corporation, where he was construction and maintenance supervisor for all service stations in Southeast Florida.

After Darrell's accident, the Gwynn team continued to compete in the Top Fuel ranks, and they won races and set records with several drivers, including Frank Hawley, Michael Brotherton, and Mike Dunn. In 1993, Jerry became a major champion in the cause for improving racecar safety and race track conditions by serving on the board as a key advisor and strategist for the Professional Race Owners Organization (PRO), which is an organization of owners of top NHRA professional racing teams.

For decades, the Gwynn family, led by Jerry, toured the NHRA circuit competing for championships, renewing friendships and serving as innovators and ambassadors of drag racing. To this day, the Gwynn Family name remains a staple of the NHRA.

Jerry and Joan, his wife of 50 years, reside in Davie, FL. Darrell is their only son, and they have one granddaughter, Katie. They remain very active, mostly through their work with the Darrell Gwynn Foundation and continued involvement as emissaries of the NHRA. Darrell was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2002.

Accomplishments


1969 Super Eliminator NHRA World ChampionHere is a brief overview of Jerry's accomplishments and contributions to the sport:

  • 1971 NHRA Southeast Division Driver of the Year
  • 1975, '76, '78, and '81 NHRA Southeast Division       
  • Top Alcohol Funny Car Champion
  • 1981 NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car Cajun Nationals Winner
  • 1981, '83, '84, '86, '87, and '88 NHRA Southeast Division, Wrench of the Year
  • 1986 NHRA Southeast Division Hall of Fame
  • 1983 NHRA Southeast Division Person of the Year, PRO
  • 1999 Car Craft Magazine Ollie Award with Joan and Darrell Gwynn
  • First Father/Son NHRA World Champions (Jerry 1969, Darrell 1983)
  • 2015 Inductee International Drag Racing Hall of Fame
Darrell Gwynn