Multi-talented female racer Cherissa Smallwood joins Nitro Jam NORWALK, Ohio (April 2, 2010) -- Nitro Jam's roster of decorated racers continues to grow as Pro Fuel star Cherissa Smallwood has announced her intention to run the rest of the...
Multi-talented female racer Cherissa Smallwood joins Nitro Jam
NORWALK, Ohio (April 2, 2010) -- Nitro Jam's roster of decorated racers continues to grow as Pro Fuel star Cherissa Smallwood has announced her intention to run the rest of the season with the Nitro Jam series.
Smallwood, a fulltime racer and mother of two, has spent the past 17 years racing various sportsman classes with the NHRA and is excited to make her debut with the brand new Pro Fuel class on the Nitro Jam circuit beginning at Rockingham Dragway's Spring Nitro Jam May 1-2.
"As a racer you work so hard to gain recognition and as a driver of Pro Fuel this will allow our team to be in the spotlight of thousands," Smallwood said. "We were drawn to the IHRA because it has shown so much appreciation and professionalism to the sport of drag racing. I can't wait to get out there and meet the fans."
On top of her racing career Smallwood is also a mother of two and a surgical technician in Jacksonville, two tough tasks that, as Smallwood will admit, sometimes creates a need to escape.
"Racing is the one place I feel stress free. My non-reality world as I call it," Smallwood said. "Racing comes natural to me so it makes me feel at ease."
Smallwood says that her comfort within the sport comes from her father Ron Griffis, a chassis builder and owner of Innovative Chassis, who has kept Smallwood around the sport her entire life.
"He has drag raced since I was a baby," Smallwood said. "Watching him race as I was growing up was inspiring. I was always hands on with the cars and I also helped work on transmissions or drive the tow vehicle because it was always just dad and I."
Today Smallwood's racing operation has become a full family affair with father Ron Griffis, husband Tim Smallwood and the entire family working on the car and helping Smallwood realize her dream.
"I always knew I would race and that my dad would build the cars and in him doing so he has provided me a safe and fast reacting car to show off my driving talent," Smallwood said. "My first dream when I was starting out was, as a woman racer, to gain the respect of my fellow drivers. I feel I have accomplished that. My second dream was to race an injected nitro dragster and my father and grandmother helped make that happen.
"I raced junior dragsters starting at age 11, Super Comp at age 16 and Alcohol Dragsters/Pro Fuel at age 17 to now so I have certainly accomplished my goals. Now it is all about having fun and enjoying what I do."
Smallwood will complete the Pro Fuel field for the Rockingham race as she goes up against some very tough competitors in Nitro Jam's newest nitro-fueled class. Similar to Top Fuel, Pro Fuel is a more affordable nitro dragster class with the same excitement and rush as Top Fuel.
She will compete alongside Bill Evans, Jeff Hamelink, Robin Samsel, Mike Manners, Brandon Pierce, Buddy Domingue and fellow newcomer Guy Kelly at the Spring Nitro Jam event.
So as someone who has been around the sport her entire life, how does Smallwood approach the involvement of her own young children in today's drag racing scene?
"I am honored to be able to introduce this sport to my kids. I speak to my daughter about the what ifs of this sport. She is four, but she knows mommy drives fast," Smallwood said. "My son is too young, but he goes and enjoys watching the cars.
"It can be hard to look in the tow vehicle and see your kids just before a pass, but I put my faith in God and trust he watches over us."