Before the engine fired in the Funny Car, drag racing's jack-of-all-trades Alex Laughlin quickly realized he'd underestimated the task he faced. It was January 2023, and Laughlin, one month after he was named the driver of the Jim Dunn Racing Funny Car, was preparing for his maiden runs at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, Ca. 

"I 1000% underestimated the difference between the Top Fuel and Funny Car,". Laughlin said. "I thought that based on just the acceleration factor of the Top Fuel car it would prepare me a lot more for this."

Those who know, know. Um, no. 

"At this point, I feel like I might as well have never driven anything in my life. Laughlin admitted. "Even all of the thousands of runs down the drag strip that I do have might as well just be tossed out the window. And technically, I should be making my first 300-mile-per-hour pull here this weekend. And so, if I were to say that I wasn't a little bit nervous, it would be a complete lie."

Laughlin had earned Advanced ET, Pro Stock, Pro Modified, Top Alcohol, and Top Fuel Dragster licenses before earning his Funny Car driving credentials. For the Funny Car license, he needed only crossover certifications. 

Sounds pretty easy, right?

"I've had people out to the track before and explained Top Fuel and how fascinating that is," Laughlin said. "Then, being next to the Funny Cars in the staging lanes, I would explain now these guys are the ones that are the full-blown psychopaths. And then I look back at even my own conversations like that and think, wow, here I am. I'm one of those guys."

How could he not be prepared after having essentially run a Pro Modified-style car and 10.5-inch wide radial tires?

"I thought that that would help, but a Funny Car is like combining a Top Fuel car with a Pro Modified," Laughlin explained. "It's just so different. It couldn't be more different."

Speaking of different, there's the dynamic between the backward-hat-wearing, social media-keen Laughlin and the "get off my lawn" Jim Dunn. 

"He said that he gets mad sometimes and might yell at me, but he gets over it quick," Laughlin said. We haven't crossed that bridge yet, though."

Laughlin ran his Funny Car career-bests in the first round of the NHRA Gatornationals with a 3.865, 332.84, but lost to Bob Tasca III.