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Ladies of NHRA 3:45
Women of NHRA headline NHRA Breakfast at SEMA
Show - 11/08
Schedule: 2006, 2007
Women of the NHRA - a listing of over 100 women who have raced in an NHRA Nationals race during 2006 (As of 10/3/06)
NHRA not dragging its feet - 9/6/06
Team Ownership Limited to Four Teams in Each Professional Category - 8/23/06
Women in the Winner's Circle Luncheon - 8/3/06
Troxel one of many women having success on NHRA circuit
Women of the NHRA
Related Issues: Jr. Drag Racing League, Women Racers Directory, Women in Racing, Women Racers, More Women in Racing, Race Schedules, Notable Women
Women of NHRA headline NHRA Breakfast at SEMA
Show - 11/08
Hillary Will (Top Fuel), Melanie Troxel (Funny Car), Ashley Force (Funny Car), Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle), and Peggy Llewellyn (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were engaging and entertaining as they answered questions from host Bob Frey as well as from members of the record crowd who gathered for the 7:30 a.m. wake-up call.
All five racers talked about a wide range of topics, from how they got their start in the sport to what type of car they drive away from the racetrack.
Below are highlights of questions asked by members of the audience during the Q&A session.
Q: Who is someone that you look up to in the world of racing?
Stoffer: Like all of us, one of the people I really look up to is Shirley Muldowney. If she hadn't been out there doing what she did, we wouldn't be sitting here right now. Because of what she accomplished and went through, it was much easier for all of us to have a career in this great sport.
Q: What is your favorite and least favorite track?
Force: I love Pomona just because that is home for me. It's always the first race of the season where you get to see everyone after the off-season, and it's also the final race of the season where there's excitement about the championships. For a least favorite track, I really don't have one that I don't like specifically. It's mostly just based on weather conditions. I know that all of the gals up here can relate to this, but I don't like the tracks that have weather that gives you a bad hair day. That's just a really tough thing. It's hard to get all that frizzy hair stuffed into a helmet.
Q: Who is the better driver, you or your husband, Tommy Johnson Jr.?
Troxel: When we're at home, we've decided it's best to let him do all the driving. He's not a very good backseat driver. We always have our arguments about who's the best driver on the track, and obviously that's me (laughing). He was concerned when I made the move to Funny Car, but here we are with only one race to go in the season, and we still haven't raced each other in eliminations. Since we're both highly competitive people, that's probably a good thing.
Q: Why are you breathing so hard at the end of the track following a run?
Troxel: It's a sport that's all about adrenaline, and that's why I love it. We've put heart-rate monitors on some drivers during runs, and it's wild to watch the heart rate go from about 80 at rest up to as high as 160 from driving the car. That's really amazing, but it's all about that adrenaline rush.
Q: Once you are done with your driving career, what are your plans?
Will: I love the sport, and I think it's going to keep growing and getting bigger. I would hate to have to think about what I'd be doing if I couldn't come to the track every weekend and race my dragster. I love NHRA and so does my family, so I am sure I would continue to be involved in the sport in some fashion once my driving career is over, whether it's working for the NHRA, ESPN, or a race team. I would be out there for sure because I love it that much.
Q: What kind of car do you drive at home?
Llewellyn: I drive a Nissan Maxima every day, which works well for
me. However, my niece has really been on me about getting a Cadillac
Escalade with the really cool rims and some major bling on it.
Team Ownership Limited to Four Teams in Each
The sport of NHRA POWERade Drag Racing is currently experiencing unprecedented investment and the worlds largest motorsports sanctioning body believes that for the continued growth and popularity of the sport, a rule on the number of professional teams owned by one owner group is necessary.
It is in the best interest of the sport to limit the number of teams owned by one owner group, said Graham Light, senior vice president of racing operations, NHRA.
The definition of an owner group is any affiliated individual or individuals who have a direct or indirect form or amount of common, joint or shared control, ownership, financing, management or revenue sharing from a competing vehicles performance.
The new rule is designed to preserve the competition in the current 16-car field format utilized in all four professional categories, reducing potential threats to racing competition.
In addition, the rule has been created to reduce barriers for entry into the sport, opening the door for current teams, as well as new teams, to secure funding from companies who see the value of participation in NHRA and the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Currently, under the definition of an owner group, there are no owner groups that exceed the four-team limit in 2006 in any of the four professional categories.
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning
body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. It presents
23 national events through its NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. NHRA
has 80,000 racers and members nationwide and 140 member tracks.
NHRA-sanctioned sportsman and bracket racing series provide
competition opportunities for drivers of all levels. NHRA develops
the stars of tomorrow by offering the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series,
Xplod Sport Compact Racing Series, NHRA Summit Racing Series and the
Street Legal Program presented by AAA. NHRA also offers the
OReilly Auto Parts Jr. Drag Racing League for youths ages 8 to
Troxel one of many women having success on
As a nod to the local flamboyant culture, showgirls flank the winners annually at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. And there standing with Funny Car winner Cruz Pedregon and Pro Stock champ Kurt Johnson was Troxel, celebrating her second championship of the year.
It's not a man's world anymore, especially in the NHRA.
Troxel became the first Top Fuel driver to advance to five straight finals to open a season -- six straight dating to last year -- and won at Las Vegas and Pomona, Calif.
But the 33-year-old from Denver who began racing at age 16 is hardly the only female making her name in the traditionally male-dominated sport.
Erica Enders finished second at Gainesville, Fla., earlier this season, Hillary Will is making her name in Top Fuel, Angelle Sampey led the Pro Stock Motorcycle points standings entering May and Karen Stoffer is fifth.
Sampey is NHRA's winningest female with 39 victories, including the first two events this season.
Enders is third in the Pro Stock standings entering this weekend's Pontiac Performance Nationals at National Trail Raceway, 79 points behind three-time defending circuit champion Greg Anderson.
Troxel leads Doug Kalitta by 132 points.
Ashley Force, daughter of 13-time Funny Car champion John Force, is racing Top Alcohol dragsters and may advance to Funny Car as early as next season.
Ashley Force is 23; Enders is 22.
They are hardly the first women to taste success in drag racing, but never in the history of the organization have so many succeeded simultaneously.
The door was opened 30 years ago by Shirley Muldowney, who won three Top Fuel championships from 1977 to 1982 to establish herself as drag racing's first dominant female.
Her first pro victory was at National Trail Raceway on June 13, 1976.
"There are so many opportunities out there," Muldowney recently told USA Today. "I was very fortunate to have the people I had and do it the way I did it. That's not to say it's easy today, but they don't have the same kind of pressure. If Melanie should win it, it will change her life."
Muldowney said women such as the 5-feet-8, 130-pound Troxel can quickly contend in drag racing because the four to six seconds required to guide a car a quarter-mile are physically less demanding than stock or Indy car racing. Also, drivers can go directly from driving school into competitive cars.
Troxel readily addresses the recent surge of winning females, but is as quick to say she'd rather talk about the mechanics and the contributions of veteran crew chief Richard Hogan.
None of the women racing argue that their success is a magnet for expanding NHRA's fan base.
"That's my responsibility as a driver, to help promote this sport. Our sport doesn't survive if we don't have exposure," said Will, who gave up her career as a financial analyst and moved to California to pursue racing.
"I have 'girl power' written on my car and I sell 'girl power' apparel. I think it's great because we're drawing new fans to NHRA drag racing -- young girls, older women, women of all ages. That can only help our sport, when we bring in new fans."
Troxel's fervent hope, however, is that it's for the right reasons.
"Male or female, you have to get exposure for yourself," she said. "So you have to use the female aspect, but when that's the only story -- that a racer is succeeding because she's a female and not because she's strong -- that story grows old. It's a novelty and people grow tired of it. So we need that female aspect of it, but I'd rather talk about winning races and leading the points."
Source: Dave Purpura can be reached at 740.328.8823 or E-Mail