The new paint scheme Funny Car driver Jim Head unveiled during the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis was more than just a flashy new application of paint from Chucky B. at Banshee Studios.
The red paint cloaking his Toyota Camry was a work of art aimed at memorializing a fallen friend.
For Head, the paint design was intended to immortalize the memory of J.T. Stewart, a behind-the-scenes kind of person through his Dynamic Machine company, who helped a lot of teams in the nitro pits without the usual fanfare.
“He was our best friend,” said Head, adding Stewart spent a lot of time on the couch in his hauler. “We miss him.”
Head said Stewart's rapidly declining health didn’t stop him from attending the drags.
Head confirmed Stewart had been undergoing dialysis, and his doctors were close to a solution which would have allowed for portable dialysis. The strain on Stewart’s heart, Head added, eventually led to a heart attack on May 10.
Stewart’s passing affected Head and his team heavily and during a meeting, the driver and crew suggested a tribute paint scheme.
“It was a unanimous decision,” said Head.
Head laments he and his team were away racing in Topeka at the NHRA Nationals when the official memorial service for their friend was conducted. Many of the racers, Stewart’s friends, were also at the same event.
“We’re having a memorial for him in Indy and we’ll also have this in Phoenix too,” said Head. “We had to do one in Phoenix. I’d venture to say he brought as many as 50 people to the event there.”
Head believes Stewart’s legacy he left behind is so huge, just talking about him is difficult.
“You really don’t know where to start,” Head added. “He had done so many things in life, off the hook, that we all try to do the best we can. Thank goodness we have all kinds of pictures. He was a tough man to define because he meant so much to so many, and his accomplishments were so extensive.”
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