Women own Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS - Lynn Farnum, Stephanie Jones and Becky "Popcorn" Landram have taken the National Performance Center E.T. Bracket Racing Series Street division at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by storm. Currently, Farnum is leading the points...

LAS VEGAS - Lynn Farnum, Stephanie Jones and Becky "Popcorn" Landram have taken the National Performance Center E.T. Bracket Racing Series Street division at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by storm. Currently, Farnum is leading the points standings, Jones is third and Landram is fifth.

Farnum is 23, a six-year resident of Las Vegas, and the driver of a 1993 Pontiac Trans-Am. She took the points lead from John Irving after the eighth race of the season and has no plans of relinquishing it. Farnum, now in her third year of drag racing, says the Street division has served as a starting point.

"Once I win the points championship, I'll move on to the Sportsman division," said Farnum. "We (the females) have really proven ourselves over the last couple years and continue to get better every year."

Jones, on the other hand, says that she races her 1973 AMC Gremlin in the local drag-racing series for practice.

"We run Stock Eliminator in NHRA," Jones said. "The Street division is easy as far as wear and tear, instead of trying to run our Stocker in the Sportsman division."

Jones also has several theories on why the women are faring so well.

"Well, first, some of the guys get weird about women racing. They put more pressure on themselves because they don't want to 'lose to a girl' and then they make a mistake," Jones said. "All three of us (women) have really consistent cars. We don't fiddle with them or make adjustments, so we know what they're going to do every time we go down The Strip. And I think I heard somewhere that women's reaction times are supposedly better, but who knows."

John Irving, the second-place contender, also knows Jones from competing in the NHRA and has been racing stock-type cars for 40 years. Irving pilots a 1999 Chevrolet Corvette he calls the "Nevada Missile."

"Women are calmer than men. Men are always anxious before competing," Irving said. "But I don't think that racing women makes them any more so. They're already that way to begin with."

Tagged "Popcorn" by an announcer because of her endless pizzazz and energy, Landram, 26, says she just "wants to win more." Landram's personal best in points standings has been third in St. George, Utah, and fourth at The Strip last season. She competes at The Strip in a 1969 Chevrolet Nova.

"I've raced Lynn twice this season, and unfortunately, choked both times. There's no intimidation factor, it's just that neither of us want to red-light," Landram said. "Lynn and Stephanie are great racers. In fact, they are the only two that it doesn't bother me to lose to."

The female presence at The Strip is not limited to the Street division, which has a total of eight women drivers. The Sportsman division also has three and the Pro and Super Quick classes each have one. The highest percentage of female drivers, however, lies in the youth of drag racing -- the Junior Dragster division -- which has 18 female competitors.

The female racers can be seen rocketing down the quarter mile on June 30, at a non-points bracket race that is part of "Match Race Madness" at The Strip. The Jr. Dragsters race once a month and resume competition on Saturday, July 7, with the ninth points race of the season. The National Performance Center E.T. Bracket Racing Series also will resume on Saturday, July 14, with the 10th points race of 2001.

-LVMS

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