Drag Illustrated Issue 176, May / June 2022 - Page 46


Q & A

Elaine Larsen

By Kelly Wade

Elaine Larsen made her very first pass down the dragstrip at Palm Beach International Raceway 20 years ago , and the celebrated jet dragster pilot has announced that the time has come for change . The 2022 season will be her final tour behind the wheel as the primary driver for Larsen Motorsports ( LMS ). Don ’ t worry , though , Larsen isn ’ t going far .

The Florida resident will remain a vital part of LMS , the company she founded with husband Chris , and Blazing Trails , the 501 ( C ) 3 non-profit she founded to connect students to non-traditional careers through STEAM ( Science , Technology , Engineering , Arts , and Mathematics ).
Throughout her career , Larsen his tutored many young jet dragster drivers while also campaigning her own car to two championships , and now she ’ s gearing up to focus more of her energy on driver development , leadership , and business .
Recently , Drag Illustrated sat down with Larsen to discuss the new role and look back at some of her most treasured accomplishments .
What made you decide to step away from full-time driving ?
The decision was a culmination of many things , but the main reason was to make room for the new generation , and so that I could focus on growing the team . When you ’ re the driver , there are a lot of things pulling on your time . Now , 100 % of my time can be dedicated to pursuing the new generation of high-performance vehicle specialists .
Was it an emotional decision for you ?
It ’ s an emotional decision every single day . I love being in the car , I love the feeling of power , I love how people look at me as I get out of the car . I ’ m torn , and it ’ s really hard , but I also know that I still have a lot to give to the sport , and I can give more on the outside of the car .
A large part of your career has been about developing new talent and providing opportunities for others . What would you consider your success stories ?
Every single person that we ’ ve licensed as a driver or cultivated as a design or fabrication engineer or member of the crew is a success story to me . The driver is just one person on the team ; we ’ re cultivating the entire team . The success story happened on our last lap at Palm Beach International Raceway . It was the last time we were going to make a pass down that track before they close . I was in the car and looked out at the kids who have given their blood , sweat , and tears to be part of this . They feel it . They ’ ve got VHT stuck to their arms , and they ’ ve given up everything to be part of the sport that I love . It gave me goosebumps to watch these kids walk around doing their job . I thought , we ’ ve really done something here .
What have you been most proud of in terms of your own career as a driver ?
I ’ ve had many proud moments , but what particularly stands out is that maybe we ’ ve brought
46 | Drag Illustrated | DragIllustrated . com Issue 176