Drag Illustrated Issue 176, May / June 2022 - Page 126

Women of Power 2022

DI Roundtable

NATAAS

then there ’ s the whole clutch setup , air gap , and making sure everything is right so that you ’ re comfortable as a driver .
SMITH : Just the amount of experience needed to do well . But there ’ s also the tuning side of it , and the more experienced teams seem to have a much better handle on getting the tune-ups . We ’ re pretty new to this , so that time and experience is something we don ’ t have yet . Those more experienced teams have been amazing giving us guidance as we ’ re learning and getting time under our belts .
Do you think there is a specific reason that this class has become populated by so many female drivers ?
FRICKE : I just think more women want to race now , and in all honesty , an alcohol dragster is a lot easier to drive than a Funny Car , whether you ’ re a man or a woman . With the rental programs out there , you can get into a dragster easier . You don ’ t see a rental program for a blown alcohol Funny Car because you ’ re not going to be successful doing that . A / Fuel cars are way easier to drive , but they ’ re not nearly as fun as a blown car . As a parent , I also think it ’ s more appealing to put your child in a dragster , just from a safety standpoint .
STALBA : I just think more drivers , in general , are leaning toward dragsters . The cost of running blown cars has skyrocketed and been impacted by parts availability – and the way they ’ re run , they ’ re a lot harder on parts . I started in a blown car , and I miss the challenge of it , but A / Fuel is easier on the pocket book and a little easier to drive . I don ’ t miss the cost of the blown car and constantly having to pull the blower off . There ’ s a lot more work involved .
NATAAS : I don ’ t think it has anything to do with being easier for a woman than a man . I think the class is attractive to a lot of drivers because it ’ s a stepping stone to Top Fuel , and you see in alcohol Funny Car there aren ’ t as many cars actually out there competing together . There are so many dragsters , which is what makes it competitive .
VETTER : For me , I ’ m just comfortable in a dragster . I raced Super Comp , Top Dragster – it ’ s always been dragsters for me , and maybe a few years down the road I ’ ll hop into a Funny Car just to change it up and have that experience , but right now it ’ s just about my comfort level .
SMITH : I think part of it is that it ’ s less financially stressful than , say , the Pros in Top Fuel . But the part is that it ’ s a stepping stone to Top Fuel . I think in the next 10 years or so , you ’ re going to see eight women in Top Fuel . I think that ’ s where it ’ s going . For me , I want to make a step into nitro Funny Car because both sides of my family have been in Funny Car . I would like to venture there , and I think Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Fuel are the building blocks to that .
This one is for drivers who have been here for a while . How have you seen the category change over the years ?
FRICKE : It ’ s changed a lot in the rental programs that are available . I ’ ve always paid for a ride , ever since day one , but a lot of that is in hard work and the sponsors I bring to the table .
I could never afford to rent the cars like some . It ’ s kind of like the Pros ; before , you could be a good driver and get a ride , but now , you have to bring sponsorship money .
STALBA : I think we ’ re getting a lot more recognition than we used to in the alcohol classes . It ’ s the second-quickest and -fastest motorsports class out there , and people are starting to see it in a different light . You can go fast and represent your sponsors and turn people ’ s heads now . It ’ s amazing . Television doesn ’ t do it justice , but when people walk up to the cars in the pits , they can see all the technology .
What do you think could make Top Alcohol Dragster better ?
FRICKE : In a way , the alcohol classes are on an island . A lot of the fans in the stands don ’ t understand that there is a huge difference between Top Fuel and alcohol . I think that a little more promotion could help us become a lot bigger . I ’ ve been strapping into the car and heard the announcers telling the fans not to worry , the Pros will be back on track at such-and-such a time . That ’ s just telling the fans that these cars aren ’ t exciting , and they are . There is so much work and time and effort and money that goes into this class . Every time I get to strap in this car , I feel like the luckiest human in the world because it ’ s so exciting .

STALBA

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