Road trip, Racing, and Rubbernecking

Road trip funTraveling with a race team across the country is nothing short of exciting, exhausting, and eye-opening all at the same time. The summer has been an adventure for me as I’ve been road trippin’ with the Larsen Motorsports teams in the U.S. and Canada. Right now we are on day three of our 1900 mile journey from Michigan to Edmonton, Alberta as we are getting ready to race at the IHRA Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals. This is going to be our biggest race of the year so we are expecting an action packed weekend!

Backing up the Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny Car

Backing up the Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny Car

 

The last update I gave you was from Rockingham, North Carolina. I had an incredible 21st birthday at the racetrack and was lucky enough to be selected as an honorary crew member for the winning and record setting Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny car. Getting experience at the track, learning about the cars, and being a part of the setup/road crew has given me a whole new perspective on racing. I have learned that the attention to detail of the setup crew is what sets the stage for the entire weekend. We put in some long hours and hard work to ensure that everything is smooth sailing for the race and for the team.

Celebrating our birthday at the racetrack!

Celebrating our birthday at the racetrack!

Marisha Falk, in the Embry-Riddle jet dragster, also took her second win of the season and tied Elaine Larsen for the points lead in North Carolina. It still amazes me how I am living the dream as a college student at Embry-Riddle, as I am a part of a winning, professional race team at Larsen Motorsports. It sure does feel good to see that ERAU jet dragster in the Winner’s Circle. As Chris Larsen says, “not too bad for a couple rednecks and a bunch of college kids.”  Check out the video below that I made highlighting the ERAU jet dragster win!

Embry-Riddle’s Jet Dragster Road to Victory!
http://vimeo.com/96703597
Embry-Riddle Jet Dragster

Next stop – Budds Creek, Maryland.  After returning to Daytona for a few weeks, we began our month long roadtrip with our first stop being in Maryland. The plan for the month was to race in Maryland, drive to Grand Bend, Ontario for the IHRA Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals, stay in Michigan for the week in between our races, and make the trek to Edmonton, Alberta for the last race in Canada. As a Texas girl, I’ve never had the opportunity to explore anywhere in the north, so this trip would give me the opportunity to see the country.

The first night of racing in Maryland was rained out so the team was energized and ready to go for a great night of racing on Saturday. Elaine Larsen took the win in her Miller Welding jet dragster by 0.06 seconds against Dawn Perdue. Let me tell you, these ladies are about as competitive as you can get and battle to the very end week-in and week-out. That’s some good racing right there!

Celebrating Elaine's win in the Winner's Circle!

Celebrating Elaine’s win in the Winner’s Circle!

A Look In the Jet Technology Center Presented by ERAU
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=323680954451978&set=vb.145881218898620&type=2&theater

A look in the JTC

Sightseeing and enjoying the road trip has been some of the best times of my life! We’ve come away from this trip with a few good stories, to say the least. Not to mention Elaine driving seven miles through a construction zone with her rear trailer door open and dragging on the ground…Anyways, here are a few of the highlights from being on the road so far.

Visiting the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Air and Space museum in Virginia. I also like to call it airplane heaven.

Air and Space Museum

Team at the museum

Sightseeing in D.C. and checking out all of the National Monuments. It was quite an adventure driving all four trucks and trailers through the narrow D.C. streets…

National Mall

Going to Akron, Ohio – the birthplace of jet racing. This is where the shop of Art Arfons is located, also known as the Home of the Green Monster. Tim Arfons, Art’s son, gave us a tour of his shop and showed us the office that Art Arfons used to use. Traveling with the team has allowed me the chance to learn about the history of jet racing and drag racing in general. I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for drag racing after learning about its grassroots and about the pioneers in the sport.

Home of the Green Monster

 

IMG_2470 (2)

Next week I’ll update you on our Canadian adventures and the rest of our road trip fun! I sure do have some good stories to tell. :)

 

Hello Summertime!

It’s official you guys. Summer is here!! I am extremely happy with how the semester ended and am grateful that I pulled off all A’s! Woohoo! Now it’s full time at the jet shop for this girl. This is my first day off since summer started and it feels good to recuperate a little because we’ve definitely been working hard! As I mentioned before, my new position at Larsen Motorsports is the co-host of the Jet Technology Center presented by Embry-Riddle.

Summertime

Blogging by the pool

The 2014 race season actually started back in March, where we attended our first IHRA Nitro Jam in Tucson, Arizona. This would be the first race debuting the Fastest Girls in Town! The fans are hyped, the team is ready to showcase their hard work, and everyone is ready for a great night of racing! Let’s just say that this race did not go our way. We did not have a spectacular start to the season that we had hoped for. Kat Moller, in her Matrix Systems jet dragster, scrubbed the wall during her first run down the quarter-mile, Elaine Larsen had a FOD (Foreign Object Debris) issue with her engine in her Miller Welding jet dragster, and Dawn Perdue’s Sport Aviation jet dragster had an electrical short causing it to shut off after the smoke and fire show. Man oh man could it get any worse?!

 

Jet car maintenance at the racetrack!

Jet car maintenance at the racetrack!

Chris Larsen, President of Larsen Motorsports

Chris Larsen, President of Larsen Motorsports

Despite all of the troubles that the Larsen Motorsports teams were faced with, I can definitely say that the LMS teams display the true meaning of teamwork. The team worked until five in the morning swapping an engine in Elaine’s car and still gave it their all at the racetrack the next day. Our morale and positive energy sure did take a hit that weekend, but do you want to know the secret to our success? How on earth could we possibly recover from such a stressful and heartbreaking weekend? Well, the key to our success is passion. Every member of the LMS team truly loves what they do and would sacrifice so much to make this team stronger. I love working with a team who are just as passionate as I am because it makes all the difference!

Packing parachutes

Our next races were in San Antonio, Texas in April,  and West Palm & Bradenton, Florida at the beginning of May. I know I can speak for all of us when I say that we had a whole new appreciation when things did go our way. These next few races were smooth sailing compared to the first race of the season. My family drove from Houston to come see us race for the first time in San Antonio and it was so exciting to have them finally experience their first LMS jet race!

My family at the racetrack

My family at the racetrack

My parents enjoying the race

My parents enjoying the race

My sister Savannah (left) and cousin Taylor (right)

My sister Savannah (left) and cousin Taylor (right)

This summer will go down as one of the best summers in my life! Traveling with the Larsen Motorsports team is going to be an incredible experience that not many people can say they’ve done. I am truly grateful that I get to represent Embry-Riddle during my travels and share with people all of the amazing projects that I work on as a Mechanical Engineering student. We will leave for Canada at the beginning of June for a month for our races up north. I will be sure to keep you updated on our adventure!

Prescott Jet Dragster Team joining us in Tucson, AZ

ERAU Prescott Jet Dragster Team joining us in Tucson, AZ

Team Whataburger run in Texas

Team Whataburger run in Texas

Touring the Simpson Factory in San Antonio

Touring the Simpson Factory in San Antonio

Embry-Riddle Jet Dragster

Embry-Riddle Jet Dragster

I will also be posting jet dragster fast facts videos throughout the summer so you will have the opportunity to expand your jet dragster knowledge. Check out the first few below:

 Fast Facts – Chassis Fabrication
https://vimeo.com/93392661
Fast Facts - Chassis Fabrication

Jet Shop Update – Post Race Inspections
https://vimeo.com/95152906
Post-Race Inspections

Jet Shop Update – Repairing Turbine Nozzle
https://vimeo.com/95159751
Repairing Turbine Nozzle

Jet Shop Update – Removing Lower Turbine Case
https://vimeo.com/95161053

Removing Lower Turbine Case

I arrived in Rockingham, North Carolina this afternoon for our next IHRA Nitro Jam! I will be spending my 21st birthday at the racetrack doing what I love and I couldn’t be more excited! Lookout for some awesome jet racing pictures!

Race Day

Being at the race track has to be one of my favorite feelings in the world. I love the anticipation leading up to the drop of the green flag. I love watching the crews move a million miles a minute prepping the car and making last minute adjustments. I love the passion that all of the people at the track have for what they do. I love seeing all of the hard work come together. I just love racing.

Let’s just say that Saturday spent at the All-Star race was my favorite. Actually, that whole day was pretty amazing. We started off the day taking a tour of NASCAR Media Group. This tour was definitely something you don’t get to see every day. We were able to see where all of the video/sound editing takes place, the sets for NASCAR TV shows, Digital Media offices, the radio studio, and so much more. Here’s a few pics:

NASCAR office in Charlotte, NC

Social Media Analysis

Next, we went next door to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, where we were given a tour by NASCAR Historian Buz McKim. I thought it was really interesting to hear all the cooky stories no one gets to hear about the history of NASCAR. I know that I’m definitely going to have to go back because a few hours in that place was definitely not enough.

Pit Stop challenge

Outside the NASCAR Hall of Fame

After a delicious lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, we were back at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It started to rain, but I wasn’t going to let that bring my umbrella-less self down. We snapped a quick picture in victory lane. Here are the 2013 NASCAR Diversity Interns:

2013 NASCAR Diversity Interns

Guess where we headed next? The Drivers Meeting! Yupp, that’s right. Definitely one of my favorite parts of this whole experience. It’s crazy standing only a few feet away from world famous drivers, crew chiefs, owners, and NASCAR executives. How many people can actually say that they got to attend a drivers meeting before a race? I thought it was interesting to see what takes place here: Rob Pemberton goes up and gives his spiel, and then they play a video explaining the rules. This is also where I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Gordon and his crew chief, Alan Gustafson (an ERAU grad). Even though it was only for a quick minute, it was definitely exciting to finally meet my favorite driver!

Robin Pemberton – VP of Competition

Got to meet Jeff Gordon and Crew Chief Alan Gustafson

Dale Jr.

The Driver Intros for the Sprint Showdown would soon follow, as well as the Sprint Showdown. We watched this race on pit road, anxiously awaiting the All-Star Race Intros. Being at the All-Star Driver Intros was definitely a site to see. We were right in the middle of it, watching the crews roll their cars right by us as they introduced each driver for the race. Then, before we knew it, the race was about to start. We headed to our seats and waited out the rain delay. But in the end, every second of waiting was all worth it. It was nice to see Jimmie Johnson bring home the checkered flag and finally get some rest after an unforgettable weekend.

Pit Road before the race

All-Star Driver Intros

Saturday Night Racing in Charlotte!

This experience has completely opened my eyes to all of the opportunities that this sport has to offer. Believe it or not, NASCAR truly has something for everyone. Going to this race put everything into perspective for me. Throughout the weekend, I constantly made an effort to picture where I would fit in there. I’m still learning more about myself and about what I truly love. It’s so important to dive headfirst into any opportunity you get because that is when you will learn the most about yourself.

Embrace those moments. You may be surprised at your potential.