Amber Franklin Wins PDRA Championship in Memory of Great-Grandfather

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (Oct. 3, 2017): Mid-summer, Amber Franklin was relishing her first major win in Pro Junior Dragster. She had beaten tough competition on one of most famous tracks in the country and nearly shared the winner’s circle with her father, Tommy, who made it to the final round of Pro Nitrous.

Although her win at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis was the biggest of her career, Amber wasn’t satisfied with the season. Leading the points chase, she had her eyes on a bigger prize. At the Professional Drag Racers Association’s most recent stop, Drag Wars at GALOT Motorsports Park in Benson, N.C., Amber realized a lifelong dream. She secured the 2017 Campers Inn RV Pro Junior Dragster World Championship.

“It’s kind of unreal, honestly,” Amber admitted. “It still doesn’t seem like it’s happened, because there’s still one race left.”

She had a sizeable lead over the competition going into the PDRA Drag Wars thanks to the Indy win, plus two other final round appearances and a semi-final finish.

“Going in Jarrod Kissinger was 600 points behind me. To wrap up the championship, basically, he couldn’t go a round farther than me. Courtney Howard, in third, had a chance of catching me, as well. Jarrod lost first round. At that point we knew the championship was most likely mine. Then second round, Courtney went out, and I locked it up for sure and there was no one else that could catch me.”

Amber finished up Drag Wars with yet another final round appearance. Even though this is just her second year in Pro Junior Dragster and she’s just turned 15, Amber exhibits experience and maturity of a well-seasoned driver.

“I don’t really think about [the pressure] that much,” she explained. “I’ve had a lot more practice this year. Each race you go to the better you get with confidence. Last year, for my rookie season in Pro Junior, finishing in fourth was a big confidence booster. Knowing I was racing against the top kids in the class and could hold my own gave me a lot of confidence heading into this year.”

Amber says she’s also learned not to worry about who she’s running, staying calm and composed mentally, which is a major facet of success in any sport.

“My dad is my biggest influence in racing. He’s taught me everything I know. He is encouraging, win or lose. We’re always thinking of ways to get better. My dad is definitely a big role model and supporter. And then my mom, also, is always there supporting. It’s hard running three cars, so if my dad can’t be up there, she’s up there running us and making sure everyone has what they need. My sister, Ashley, supports me a lot. She’s started racing this year, so it’s been hard for us to watch each other, but she’s always supportive.

“Without our crew guys we couldn’t do this,” Amber continued. “We have a full time guy, Chris Murray, that helps us with the weekly stuff, making sure the cars are ready for the next race and there every race. On the weekends we have Todd Wilcox who helps a bunch. Chase Murray is the second guy behind my dad when it comes to the juniors. He’s helped me a lot and is like my older brother. He’s always making sure I’m calmed down before a round and then making calls with my dad whenever we need to pull weight out or put some in. And then Blake, my boyfriend, he always supports me no matter whether he has a good race or not. So there’s definitely a whole line of people who’s made this year what it’s turned out to be.

“Most importantly, I would like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ because without him none of this would be possible!”

Amber also thanked Franklin Electric, Smartcom Home Technologies, Half Scale Junior Dragsters, Nic Woods Engines and Hoosier Racing Tires for their role in her championship. “And thank you to the PDRA for providing a place to race,” she finished.

Her father, Tommy, is currently leading points in Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous. As the reigning World Champion, he would no doubt like to claim back-to-back championships and make history with his daughter as the first father/daughter champions in the PDRA, but, regardless of the outcome of his championship, Amber’s accomplishments are already being celebrated and enjoyed.

“As a parent I am very proud of the way Amber has driven this season,” he stated. “She has learned to drive both ends of the racetrack very well, and there is nothing better than to watch your kids succeed. More importantly, we are very proud of the person that Amber has matured into and see great success in her future of drag racing.”

There is still one race left on the PDRA tour, the World Finals at Virginia Motorsports Park, which also happens to be the Franklins’ home track. It is there that Tommy’s championship battle will be decided. Although nothing can spoil Amber’s championship now, she wants to finish the year strong.

“My goal is to go out there and win it,” Amber said of the World Finals. “People ask me if I get nervous in the points battle, but, honestly, I like the pressure. So I’m not going to think about Virginia as if the season is over. We’re trying to get that last win. That would be a great finish. Plus, we’re hoping my dad can win it, too, and lock up his championship. That would be a dream come true. We’ve been trying for a few years now to get the first ever father/daughter event win in PDRA. We’ve almost got there a few times, but not yet. So if we got the championship together, that would be 100 times better. I don’t even know how to describe that.”

In February of this year, the Franklins lost a patriarch of the family, Amber’s great-grandfather. Although he could not make it to the races often, he would give her pep talks before her races and always loved to hear Amber’s stories of how the events went. She dedicates this championship to him.

Photo: Gary Rowe /

%d bloggers like this: