Girls of Junior Drag Racing
By Dan Moore
|Brittany Spencer in the checkered dragster. .|
A Friday night movie, a school dance, a first date, a new boyfriend – these are some of the things you would expect from a young girl. But there is something new going on. Girls just are not sitting around letting the boys have all the fun anymore. For years now, girls have been making their stand in sports. Basketball, softball, even football, but they are not stopping there. I made a few trips out to two of my local dragways, 75 & 80 Dragway in Monrovia, Maryland, and Mason Dixon Dragway in Hagerstown, Maryland, to photograph some cars in motion. Well I found just that and much more.
|Brittany Taylor in the black and green dragster.|
|Loghan Tabler in the blue and yellow dragster.|
When I heard them call for the Junior Dragsters to come to the line, sure enough, out onto the track came a ½-scale dragster. So, I jumped up and started taking pictures. The whole time I was thinking, “Wow. This is great a way for a young boy to learn the sport.” Well I was wrong. The car got to the line and out of the speakers came, “In lane 1, we have Brittany Spence, a 14 year old from Sykesville, MD.” I looked to my wife, who was already up on the fence cheering her on. So, after watching many of these young drivers zip down an 1/8-mile dragway, I had to know more.
|Megan Culbert's Girls Rock dragster |
Heading into the pits, I found all the cars sitting near each other. Young boys and girls were running around talking and having a great time, but not one driver near a car. Hmmm, hard to get a story like this. I started asking around about Junior Dragsters and found that this was not a new thing, but it has been around from 1991. In 1992, the Junior Dragster Racing League (JDRL) came to be. Racers began competing at local tracks in 1993 as the league grew at an astounding rate. In 1994, NHRA sponsored the first Junior Drag Racing League National Championships at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Indianapolis. More than 500 young drivers qualified and participated.
|Amber Mahon black and green dragster.|
|Katie Bauman's wild flamed dragster. |
That’s 500 drivers, ranging from 8 to 17 years old. But it’s not just boys; about 25 percent of Junior Dragster drivers are girls. No way there could be that many tomboys out there. I had to meet the girls of Junior Drag Racing. I went back to looking for the drivers. I saw many young girls around, but none looked like they would race. I sure did not see any tomboys.
|Kim Resh in the far lane.|
The call came again all Junior Drag racers to report to the staging area. “I’ve got them now,” I thought to myself, and off I went. The first car in the staging area was a bright pink and purple car. Nearby was a young lady with long blond hair and nicely painted nails. “No way,” I think, but I went over to talk to her. Sure enough, she was the driver.
Brittany Spence, 14 years old. Talking with Brittany, I found out she has been racing since she was 8. Drag Racing is her thing for now, but her goal is to race motorcycles. Brittany’s best time was an 8.33 in the 1/8 mile. She went on to say that her best finish was winning the Top Dog title. I also asked how she feels when in her car and with a big smile, she simply said, "Good."
Brittany Taylor, 15 years old, started racing at age 10. Brittany went on to say that her favorite drivers are John Force and Bunny Burkett. Her best time was 9.14 at 74 mph in the 1/8th mile. Brittany said that she feels both nervous and excited when in the car.
Loghan Tabler, age 10, started racing at 8 years old. Loghan’s best time was a 9.88 and her goal is to win a big trophy. When we asked Loghan how she feels in the car, her eyes lit up and she said, “Fast and Fun.”
After talking to a few of the girls, I soon found they were not alone. But time was not on my side -- they had to move onto the track. I was told to meet them at Mason Dixon Dragway on Sunday morning. Off I went to my 2nd track and sure enough, I found a whole league of Junior Dragsters.
Megan Culbert, age 8, was in her first year of racing. She told us that in her spare time, she practices the lights to improve her start times. Megan also likes gymnastics and playing the piano. She would like to win a big trophy, and her best time so far was an 11.30 in the 1/8 mile. Megan’s car was painted with “Girls Rock.”
Amber Mahon, age 11, started racing at age 10 and was one of only a few cars we saw with a sponsor. Talking with Amber, we found that she likes to play basketball, baseball, ride motorcycles, and swim. She also said that her best finish so far was a runner up spot. Amber would like to move up to Pro Stock motorcycle racing. She said that her top speed so far was 75 mph.
Katie Bauman, age 16, started racing at age 9. Her goal is just to be a good racer. Katie went on to say that she likes to talk on the phone and hang out with her friends. Katie put out last year’s points leader in the first round and won a $50.00 dollar savings bond. Great driving, Katie. Katie also set the best reaction time, leaving the starting line .014 seconds after the light turned green! I asked Katie how she felt when she was in her car. With sparkles in her eyes, she had one word: “EXCITED.”
Kim Resh, age 17, the oldest of the girls we talked with, started racing at age 12. Kim said her goal was to be the world’s fastest. When asked how she feels in her car, with a little giggle she said, "Like, I rule."
Time was short at both tracks and I missed talking with many of the girls. But all of them let the boys know they were there and they plan to keep on racing. With fast reaction times on the tree and nerves of steel, the young ladies of drag racing are a force to reckoned with. By the way, out of all the young ladies we talked with, there was not one tomboy in the lot. You could say the girls of Junior Drag Racing are turning heads both in and out of the car.