Female drag racing stars a big attraction at upcoming Baytown event HOUSTON (March 3) -- Women in motorsports; what's the big deal? In the 300-mph world of NHRA drag racing, female competitors have been racing -- and winning -- for decades....
Female drag racing stars a big attraction at upcoming Baytown event
HOUSTON (March 3) -- Women in motorsports; what's the big deal?
In the 300-mph world of NHRA drag racing, female competitors have been racing -- and winning -- for decades. From three-time world champion Shirley Muldowney's legendary battles with the boys in the 1970s to current superstars like Ashley Force Hood becoming the very face of the sport itself, women always have been an integral part of straight-line racing.
Houston-area fans will soon have a chance to see their favorite female racers zip down the drag strip during the 23rd annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals, which take place April 9-11 at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown. With freeway access to the facility's expanded parking lots and a wide range of tickets available, getting a chance to mingle with Force Hood and her friends has never been easier.
"I think it's great that the gals have always raced right alongside the guys out here," Force Hood said. "To those of us in drag racing, it's really not a big deal. But if we can get more girls to the track because there are some girls racing, then it's a great thing. I know I have some awesome female fans, especially in Texas."
At least six women will contest three of the four professional titles up for grabs at HRP. In Funny Car, Force Hood and her powerful Castrol GTX Ford Mustang will go head-to-head against Melanie Troxel and her brand-new In-N-Out Burger Dodge Charger R/T. Force Hood is the daughter of 14-time champion John Force, while Troxel is the only woman in history to have won NHRA national events in both Top Fuel dragster and Funny Car.
Houston native Erica Enders, a past Houston champion, has Ford fans excited as she enters her hometown race in Jim Cunningham's Dragstar Mustang. The most decorated female Pro Stock star ever, Enders grew up in Northwest Houston and attended Cypress Springs High School and Texas A&M University.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, past points leader Karen Stoffer will be one of the top contenders on her GEICO Powersports Suzuki, while newlywed Angie Smith will try for the trophy aboard her Coffman Tank Trucks Buell. Fresh face Katie Sullivan also will test her luck on her family-owned Suzuki.
The female stars in drag racing don't expect any special treatment from their male counterparts. In fact, they want their opponents to bring their A-game to the starting line every round.
"When the helmets go on, we're all racers," said Troxel, who holds the title of quickest female driver in the sport. "I actually find it kind of funny that so much fuss is being made over Danica Patrick moving over to NASCAR because we've had women out here winning races and championships for years.
"Personally, I'm trying to do whatever I can to beat the person in the other lane. That's my job. I never even think about the gender of the other person because it really doesn't matter. At this level, everyone is tough. I just want to win."
The good news for race fans attending the event is that every ticket grants them access to the professional pits and drivers are always available to meet their supporters for autographs and photos. Not surprisingly, the biggest crowds always seem to be in front of the pits occupied by one of the sport's female racers.
"It's really neat to see the little girls out here," Enders said. "I think we're living proof that they can do anything they set their minds to and that they should always chase their dreams."
For more information about Houston Raceway Park or to purchase tickets, visit www.houstonraceway.com or call 281-383-7223.
Houston Raceway Park is located 25 miles east of downtown Houston off Interstate-10 in Baytown. Take Exit 799 (SH 99 Grand Parkway) and go South to FM 565 (first exit). Take a right at FM 565 and Houston Raceway Park is located on your right side.