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Pro Funny Car driver takes candle business to Etsy

Pro Funny Car driver takes candle business to Etsy

For professional Funny Car driver Tommy Johnson Jr. (TJ), the phrase, “let’s light this candle,” refers to more than the rocket on wheels he pilots down the dragstrip. The 16-time event title winner, one-time speed world record holder, and racing supply business owner recently launched an online candle store called TJ’s Candles.

When TJ is not away from home competing on the Funny Car circuit, he and fiancée Amy Ladd enjoy creating the candles together for their side business, TJ’s Candles.

These aren’t your everyday candles that you’d find from a big retailer. TJ recycles empty wine, liquor and soda bottles to hold the candle wax. He also reuses engine pistons, which as turns out are a good size and shape to hold a candle.

So why would someone who makes their living at 300 plus miles per hour want to make candles?

“It started as a hobby.” TJ said. “Someone had given my parents a candle in a wine bottle and my fiancée (Amy Ladd) said we should try that. I said okay.”

TJ and Amy decided to make enough candles for everyone on the Make-a-Wish team for the annual Christmas party.

“Little did I know how hard it was,” he said. “Out of my first 12 attempts, I had maybe two that I could use.”

“I am a bit of a perfectionist,” TJ added. “After the Christmas party, I said I can do better than that.”

As TJ’s skills increased, so did his collection of candles.

“I figured we better start selling them,” he said.

“I’ve taken a little grief over it from some of the race guys. They kind of give me a look and ask, ‘you sell candles?’ I just say, yeah, I do. Five minutes later, they’ll come back and ask if I’ll make one for their girlfriend,” he laughed.

For more information on TJ’s Candles, visit etsy.com/shop/TACandles.

TJ etches a line around the wine bottle which prepares it to be cut.
Once the bottle is submerged under ice water, the glass separates where the line was etched. The change in temperature causes the glass to find the easiest place to break apart.
Amy and TJ use a variety of colors, scents, and wine and liquor bottles for their candles.
Piston used as candle container. TJ says the team goes through 15-20 per event.









Story and photos By Chris Cornwall

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