Cooper Chun is in this week’s DragChamp Racer Spotlight. Learn all about this DragChamp Pro Member in his spotlight below!
VANCOUVER, WA- Cooper Chun’s passion for drag racing runs deep, and it has been an integral part of his life since birth. Cooper has been racing for 12 years and got his start like many, in a Junior Dragster. However, racing is not just an individual pursuit for Cooper; it’s a family affair. The racing lineage goes back generations, with his grandpa and dad both involved in drag racing since the 1970s and 1990s, respectively. Even his aunt and mom have had their taste of the race track.
The racing spirit was instilled in him from an incredibly young age, with his parents taking him to his first race at just one month old, where his dad emerged with the Stock Eliminator win at the Sacramento Divisional. Fun fact- He almost had the racetrack as his birthplace, as his mom’s water broke at Woodburn Dragstrip.
At 8 years old, Cooper started in a Junior Dragster mostly because his mom pushed him to try it out. With the guidance of his dad as a coach, he had tremendous success in Junior Dragsters. When he first started, his Junior Dragster was too fast for his age bracket, so his dad came up with a solution that saved him money and another engine. Cooper would launch the car, count to ten, and get on the gas again. It was pretty funny to watch and the people at Portland International Raceway called him “The Count” for a few seasons.
As he progressed through Junior Thunder and Lightning, Cooper eventually transitioned to Junior Street, where he raced the family truck. Once he reached the age of 16, he eagerly entered Sportsman and Super Pro events.
Currently, Cooper competes across the West Coast, participating in significant Top Bulb events and double entering the ET series at his local track, Portland International Raceway, on Wednesdays. He loves to race at Sacramento, Boise, and Vegas, and he hopes to add new tracks to his list of experiences this year.
His Current Race Cars
Cooper’s current race car is a 2001 Mullis dragster that is owned by his supportive mom and dad, acquired in the Fall of 2021. Before this dragster, he raced a 1998 Mullis dragster, also belonging to his parents. With his dad getting his seat back, together, they are determined to campaign both cars at some events. Tabors Automotive Machine built a 565 for the newer car that should make around 900-950 hp. It runs 5.0s and is something they can put 500 runs on and not worry about breaking stuff.
While Cooper acknowledges that his car may not be the fastest on the track, his passion for racing knows no bounds. He is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the racing world, where he not only gets to challenge himself but also gets the chance to travel. Cooper also has a 7.40s 1993 Foxbody Mustang that he runs at Portland International Raceway and on weekends that the dragster is down.
Cooper’s Major Accomplishments
- 3x Junior Thunder/Lightning finals winner
- 2x Div 6 Junior Driver of the Year
- 2022 Super Pro Track Champion at Woodburn Dragstrip and Portland International Raceway 2022 Div 6 ET finals Super Pro winner
- 3x Northwest Independence Shootout winner
- Multiple $5k wins
- 5 Wallys/18 Junior Wallys
What’s on your bucket list, future goals, what do you hope to achieve?
I’d love to be able to travel the big money circuit one year and be able to do all those races and see all the different tracks. A major goal of mine is to eventually move back east or to the south to be closer to all the big money racing back there. It would be great to win a race at the Fling.
What is your favorite race car, and why?
It’s got to be a dragster, they work so well and in our sport consistency is everything. Obviously, I am a fan of Mullis Race Cars.
Who has made the biggest impact on your racing success?
My parents hands down. They provide the financial support and have given me the opportunity to drive. My dad does all the work on the cars and is almost always willing to take me to any event. My mom for all her support and for taking me to events when my dad can’t. They are willing to do anything to support me in the sport and I am really grateful to them.
Who do you look up to in the sport?
I would have to say that I look up to my dad and Brad Plourd. My dad for being able to win in just about any car he has raced in many categories but also for being a really great crew chief and coach. He knows pretty much everything about drag racing and helps so many people at the track; he is always so generous with his time and knowledge. I have always looked up to Brad because, well, he’s Bad Brad Plourd. He started here in Division 6, followed his dream of moving to the south, and has won so many events.
Tell us what you do for a living?
I’m starting college in the fall and my goal is to be an aerospace engineer.
How do you support your racing, side hustle, sponsor, partner, etc.?
I have been fortunate to have some sponsors over the years and really great friends who have provided me a chance to drive. Vancouver Transmission, Northwest Refinishing, Tabor’s Machine, and some others all help my program. I am grateful to sponsors like Brad Plourd and Gordon Rust who supported me throughout my junior career. Mostly it is my parents; but I do work and have to pay for some things including entry fees and buybacks.
Who do you hate to see in the other lane, and why?
My dad. I think we are 3-1 with him being in the lead. I never know how he is approaching the round and he always seems to crush me when we race each other. He has so much knowledge about racing that he can be creative about how he dials, when or how hard he hits the brakes, or he just gets in my head.
What’s the hardest part of drag racing?
The consistency of being good and really good some rounds seven, eight, nine times in a row. On top of that is the fact that pretty much anyone you line up against can be sub 10 total at any moment. There is a lot of skill involved but also a lot of luck. Knowing your car, your equipment, is part of it but if you are off for even a second it can cost you the race. There are a lot of components that go into racing and being consistent (on the tree, on the dial, on the finish line) has to be the hardest part.
What’s your most embarrassing moment in a race car?
My most embarrassing moment is when I was racing at the ET finals and I was up against an 18 second Pacer Wagon in my 13 second El Camino. I had a .100 starting line advantage and then gave it back at the top end. I got back to the pits and the first thing my dad said was, “You lost to the Pacer Wagon!?”
What are you saying to yourself just before you stage the car?
I don’t really have a certain saying, I just try to stay focused. If I’m holding, I am telling myself to make sure I get rid of the amount I’m holding.
What do you enjoy the most at the racetrack?
The friendships I’ve made over the years. We always have a great time whether we are racing, hanging out in the pits, or getting into trouble on golf carts. The friendships made at the race track are unlike any others; you truly become family.
Are you superstitious? If so, what are they?
Yes, a little. I always put my right glove on first, drive up to the lanes the same way, and have the same routine when taking things off after a run.
Do you love to win or hate to lose?
I’d say I love to win. You can’t beat the feeling after you have won and everyone is congratulating you in the winners circle. That sense of accomplishment and pride is unlike any other feeling.
Which are you better at the starting line or the finish line?
It depends on the day but usually I’m better on the starting line.
What motivates you to continue racing?
To be known in the world of big money bracket racing.
If money were no object, what would your racing operation look like? Car, trailer, class, race schedule, etc.
I would have a big toterhome with a stacker trailer. I’d also love to have several 4.50 dragsters that my buddies could come and race. I would travel the big money circuit and would definitely race the original Million Dollar race.
How often do you use a practice tree?
Probably once or twice a month, just enough to not get rusty over the offseason.
What is your daily driver?
I don’t have one. I am stuck driving whatever is left in the driveway that day. Usually a 2005 Cadillac DeVille, sometimes it is our Ford truck.
Favorite movie or TV show?
Favorite music, artist?
Where do you spend the most time on the internet?
Facebook, for sure. Wait. If my mom reads this, I am spending my time studying.
What is your favorite sport? Favorite team?
Drag Racing. Also, the Seattle Seahawks which my mom and I like to cheer for during the NFL season.
Besides racing, what do you do in your free time?
Play Xbox and hang out with racing buddies.
Name one thing most people don’t know about you?
That my name is actually David Chun. I go by my middle name (Cooper) and have my whole life. I am named after my dad, grandpa and great-grandpa.
Would you rather hang out with a crowd or have a quiet evening at home?
For me, it really depends on the crowd.
What’s your favorite thing to eat? Individual item, meal, or restaurant?
6 oz filet mignon from Saylers, a restaurant in Portland.
Who would you like to thank, who helps you the most?
First, I’d like to thank my parents for everything they do. Secondly, the Collecchi family for always being there for me and letting me drive their cars. I can’t thank them enough for their friendship. I need to thank my grandparents, my aunt Susan, my cousin Ava Glenn, and my little brother, Carter, who cheer me on, support me, and help make my race schedule happen. I want to thank all my parents’ racing friends who have become my friends too; they have helped me, guided me, and pushed me to be a better person and racer. Finally, I have to thank all my friends who push me to be a better racer and remind me that some days I am not as good as I think I am. Also, shout out to the “Mopar Chris’ School of Drag Racing” for inspiring young guns all over Division 6.
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