■ FOR YEARS , Amber Franklin has aspired to be just like her father , two-time PDRA Pro Nitrous world champion Tommy Franklin . Over the last year , she ’ s made strides towards that goal while also making her own name in the sport .
Franklin started racing Jr . Dragsters when she was 10 , progressing from PDRA Top Jr . Dragster to Pro Jr . Dragster , where she won the world championship in 2017 alongside her dad , who won his second Pro Nitrous title . She stepped up to a big dragster at 17 in 2019 , then moved up again to Pro 632 late in 2021 .
Franklin reached the final round in her first two races driving the “ OG Jungle Rat ” ’ 69 Camaro , the same car Tommy drove to both Pro Nitrous titles . Though it now sports a Musi 632 rather than a 959ci engine , the car has proven to be just as much of a threat as it was in Pro Nitrous trim . Franklin felt it was her obligation to match the performance level of the car .
“ After I lost on a holeshot in the final round of the World Finals [ in 2021 ], I had to remind myself that it was only my second race in the car ,” says Franklin , now 20 . “ But at the same time , I wasn ’ t really OK with using that as an excuse either . I definitely pushed myself to make sure I kept up with the car . The car proves itself every time . My team , my dad , and Jeff Pierce set me up with a good car , so I needed to take the time to make sure I held up my end of the deal and was driving the way I should ’ ve been .”
Franklin ’ s determination was evident throughout the 2022 season . She reached the semifinals at the PDRA season opener , then won the next two races on tour . After adding two runner-up finishes to her scorecard , she secured the Pro 632 world championship when she qualified at the World Finals .
Her first win came at the Doorslammer Derby , where she defeated longtime best friend Lexi Tanner . Franklin and Tanner lined up against each other five times in seven points races and the Summit Racing PDRA ProStars race , with Franklin taking a 3-2 lead in head-to-head matchups . Tanner took both of her wins in the finals , though , beating Franklin at Maryland to get her first Pro 632 win and at Virginia to win ProStars .
“ We both enjoy racing and it ’ s something that we also talked about forever ,” Franklin says of racing with Tanner . “ We both kind of transitioned the same way with Jrs ., then into the dragsters , then into the door cars . Getting to race against each other , but then getting our first wins with each other in the other lane , it definitely has a special meaning .”
Franklin works hard for the opportunity to race . When the family isn ’ t racing with the series they own , PDRA , Franklin can often be found working in a variety of roles at the family ’ s Virginia Motorsports Park , or helping the PDRA team with behind-the-scenes work . She also works full-time during the week at Franklin Electric , and she recently started the master ’ s program at an electrical school so she can continue advancing in the family business .
Advancing in the family business is a recurring theme in Franklin ’ s racing goals . She hopes to someday join her father in Pro Nitrous , but she ’ s focusing on pursuing a second consecutive Pro 632 title first .
“ Eventually , my ultimate goal is to run Pro Nitrous ,” confirms Franklin , who thanks God , parents Tommy and Judy , tuner Jeff Pierce , longtime boyfriend Blake Denton , her crew , sister Ashley , and the team ’ s partners like Jerry Bickel Race Cars , Pat Musi Racing Engines , Hoosier Racing Tires , and M & M Transmission . “ I know a bunch of people were hoping or asking if that ’ s going to be the goal for next year . Not yet . Hopefully I can get some more seat time and prepare for that . We ’ re not sure when or what that looks like , but I would love to [ run Pro Nitrous ] if the opportunity comes up in the future . Hopefully against my dad too .” – NATE VAN WAGNEN DI
116 | Drag Illustrated | DragIllustrated . com Issue 179