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North Carolina: Ladies in Drag

Just after tax season, I went to visit my dad for a few days in Morganton, NC. For the Saturday of my visit, Dad bought us tickets to attend the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I grew up going to drag races with my dad and then later on with my ex-husband. It has probably been about 12 years since I've been to any. And I had certainly never been to a four-wide track since Charlotte is the only one that exists. Normally drag races are conducted with two cars running side by side. But in Charlotte, they run four cars side by side. This was definitely a new concept for me and I was looking forward to it.

We got up with the roosters in order to make the drive down to Charlotte to arrive early enough to attend the pre-race activities in the pit.

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If you've never been to the drag races before, this is the time when you can walk around in the pits and possibly meet the drivers, watch them get the cars ready to race and fire them up, and buy team gear. We rounded the corner in the pit and Steve Torrence was just starting his car. The smell of the nitro fumes coming out of the car are strong; they will make your eyes water like you're crying uncontrollably.

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Next to him was John Force's team. John Force himself came out to sign a few autographs.

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The U.S. Army even has a car, driven by Tony Schumacher.

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As does the Sheikh of Qatar, whose car is getting fueled here.

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After hanging out in the pits, we decided to go check out our seats. Dad had gotten us great tickets, right on the start line.

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My only complaint was the chick behind me who thought it was okay to stick her foot in my face throughout the day.

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At least her flamingo sandals were cute. She got pretty drunk later on in the day, went down to the snack bar and stubbed her toe. So then she stuck her bloody foot in my face throughout the day. Nice!

The races were kicked off by a couple of parachutists carrying American flags.

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Another new concept for me since I last attended drag races was an influx of female racers. Also mentioned previously, one of my favorite movies when I was a little girl was about the first female drag racer, Shirley Muldowney. Shirley overcame all odds to break into a male-only sport and went on to win an unprecedented three NHRA Top Fuel titles in her career. She paved the way for the women I would see race today: Brittany Force, Courtney Force, Alexis DeJoria, and Erica Enders.

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The Force sisters are daughters of the legendary John Force, 15-time Funny Car champion. The oldest, Ashley, raced until 2011 when she had her first child and announced her retirement. She now works behind the scenes in the family business. The second oldest, Brittany, just began her career as a driver of a Top Fuel dragster.

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Unfortunately, Brittany came in last in the first round (only the top two advance) and did not advance any farther.

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Her younger sister, Courtney, the 2012 NHRA Rookie of the Year, drives the Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car.

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Courtney came in third in her heat so she did not advance to the next round either.

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Alexis DeJoria, drives the Patron Toyota Camry Funny Car. Her father is the owner of Patron tequila and co-founder of Paul Mitchell hair products. After many successes and surviving a near-death crash on her way up the ladder to Top Fuel, this is her sophomore year driving Top Fuel.

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Alexis had a problem right off the line. She came in last at 10.241 seconds. It was not looking good for the ladies in drag!

And then came Erica Enders. Erica drives in the Pro Stock class of NHRA. Pro stock cars run on racing gasoline while top fuel dragsters and funny cars both run on a mixture of nitro and methanol. Another difference between the two is that pro stock cars run the full 1,320 foot distance of the track while nitromethane-fueled cars run only 1,000 feet. In 2006, Erica became the first woman to qualify #1 in pro stock and in 2012 became the first woman to win in the finals in pro stock. On this day, she had quite the successful day, placing second in the first round and first in the second round to advance to the finals. She is in the green and white Charter car.

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She lost in the finals by only .026 seconds, taking second overall.

It was a fun day and I was glad to see so many women following in Shirley Muldowney's footsteps and joining the sport. I wish them luck and hope they'll stay safe.

Posted by zihuatcat 20:50 Archived in USA Tagged north dad carolina

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