PMP’s SPOTLIGHT BLOG
Spring is Here!
By Marina Anderson
April 1, 2019
It's finally April!
For some that means spring cleaning. For me that means Charlotte is around the corner! Over the past two months I have been watching through social media, podcasts, live timing and video as other people are starting out their 2019 season. Last year, Dad and I made the decision to hit a few more races and mostly nationals, starting at Charlotte. It's the earliest and the furthest we have ever gone. As a small-budget, local-to-Midwest team, I'm feeling so fortunate to go there. It's the original four-wide (which I haven't seen yet!) and it's one of my favorite tracks.
Over the winter we made a list of tasks we wanted to accomplish. It included everything from purchasing new tools to trailer maintenance to the usual engine refresh, recerts and maintenance. It doesn't have to take six whole months to do all of it, but we’ve definitely filled the time.
The first race of the season can bring many feelings. As I prepare for my season to begin I am so excited to keep improving on our program in 2019 and to represent a couple new names on and off the track.
Nervousness is also there, because we haven't had practice in six months! Drag racing is sort of hard to practice. The car is based in Chicago, where the winter doesn't allow for testing, and testing is the only real practice you can get. We go through procedures in our heads over and over, which definitely helps too, but it's not the same as that in the moment. Drag racers know that it's about consistency and how you handle the pressure. You have to be able to focus on what is happening in that moment and be confident as a driver, but the crew needs to be that way too. It takes time and practice to get there for us all.
I have reviewed my Racepak graphs from previous runs over and over this winter and made plans of new things to try to get faster. We planned to test, but due to weather it isn't feasible prior to Charlotte. I have so much faith in my team and that is what is motivating me in 2019. I know they want to go out there and do well just as bad as I do. I feel more prepared this year than I have in any other past year to get started with the race season and I know it's going to be a great one for us.
Looking forward to seeing everyone at the track soon.
Winter Racing Thoughts
By Marina Anderson
March 1, 2019
What do you do for fun? What is new? No matter what the question is, drag racing is so much a part of our lives that it inevitably comes up when meeting new people or catching up with old friends. For me, trying to get settled into a new town, drag racing has definitely created a talking point for my new colleagues and friends. Below are a few things that I have learned through trying to explain drag racing to them. I'm sure many of us can relate.
It's not just a hobby. We think about it all the time. We are always working toward racing more, if that means trying to save up for the season or working on getting sponsors, booking hotels or rebuilding the engine in the shop. There's always a lot to be done, making drag racing much more like a second career than a "hobby.”
Things that come naturally to someone who grew up at the track don't come naturally to regular people. I guess it's normal that most people don't get why the track is sticky or that you can win a race just by leaving the line first. Learning how to explain all of that to turn regular people into more fans but not feel like you're bragging about your fun life is a balance.
It actually is loud. Most of us are just already used to it or losing our hearing, I guess.
Drag racers don't need to have fast street cars. Most of us pour all of our fun money into racing so it's hard to have many other projects. This is not a rule, but I often get a disappointed look when I tell people I drive a Ford Escape, not a Shelby GT500. Who would want to drive that through the Minnesota winters anyways?
Even if our street cars aren't fast, we still drive everywhere. What's flying when half of the fun is driving across the country without any sleep? Most hardcore drag racers will chose to drive everywhere. Sometimes time limits this, but it doesn't mean we don't want to.
There are so many different types of drag racing. In 2018, I had the opportunity to go to my first small-tire race, my first no-prep race and I recently went to the U.S. Street Nationals in Bradenton, FL. I enjoy seeing other types of racing and learning about them. Walking down a no-prep track is so weird when you're used to a track that is prepped. As an NHRA drag racer it is fantastic to see so much participation in all of these types of drag racing. With social media and shared partners, I think we are networking more and more across these various types, too, which is great and can only help us all grow and learn.
It's expensive. We don't want to talk about it, but it's true. Typically, if a drag racer says their new engine set them back 12, for example, you probably can multiply that by $1,000. (Houses seem cheap after you learn what drag racing costs). We don't necessarily start drag racing to make money, but some do make a living doing it.
We depend on our group of friends and family for support and help especially if we aren't full time. I always feel so fortunate with this one. With my recent move, my dad and the crew in Illinois have the car almost race ready in the time that I haven't been home. I will get to go home to work on it as often as I can and work on other plans remotely, but they are ahead of schedule because they love it just as much as I do. Mom helps with making food and getting us ready for every race. Friends have leaned on their connections to get our names out there as we look for marketing partners. It takes a large time commitment to go drag racing, but that doesn't mean you have to quit your job. You can do it with help from the people around you.
Podcasts are good for learning more – if you are new to racing or experienced you can learn something from them. I have also recently found out that they help with the winter blues. It helps to hear people talk about drag racing even if you're stuck inside all winter. A couple of my favorites are Racers in Rental Cars and Nomex Effect. We all think about racing more than we care to admit and I enjoy hearing these other racers’ perspectives and learning a little about the driving strategies that pros work through every weekend too.
Our community is small, but we are all a family and would do anything for each other. It may seem scary, but all are welcome. Please reach out on social media if you have any racing-related questions or want to get more involved in drag racing but don't know where to start.
- Marina Anderson
By Marina Anderson
January 17, 2019
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I went home to Chicago for the holidays and had a great time with family and friends.
Looking back on 2018, our last race of the season we went to St. Louis wanting to do better than we ever have. This is typically the goal: be better than ourselves, learn and have fun. The weekend was cold and tough on the A/Fuel car, but with no experience in these weather conditions and only one qualifying attempt we were able to obtain our best ET yet and qualified No. 3 with a 5.45 at 245 mph. This felt like the first of many bigger accomplishments for us. At one point in the day I saw -1500 ft. density altitude. You may or may not know what that means to an A/Fuel car, but basically it's really, really good air. Unfortunately, we were eliminated in first round after the cold weather caused some mechanical issues and we weren't able to recover fully for the run. All in all, it was a good race and gave us high hopes for the 2019 season.
Only a couple of days after coming home from the St. Louis race, I was offered a job at Eaton Hydraulics in Minnesota for a position I had interviewed for over the past couple of months. After talking over the pros and cons this change will have for our racing operation, I decided to take the role and move to Minnesota in November. We know it will be a different dynamic to run the race car with me living 5 hours away, but we are not going to let it stop us from planning to run eight races in 2019.
December felt like a busy time even without racing. Especially since I have been getting settled into a new city, doing holiday things with family and PRI, of course. My first trip out of my new city was to Indy for this trade show that I can never miss. PRI is one of the best weekends of the year. There are so many reasons I say this. You are able to see your friends in one place (without actually racing, so less distracted, ha!) and you are able to make new friends and contacts within the industry. These relationships and contacts made over the years are really priceless. I say I wouldn't have made it this far without the help of a large group of people and a lot of those people I met while at PRI.
The weekend goes by so quickly. My favorite part of PRI this year was being chosen as one of Drag Illustrated's 30 under 30 honorees. It really is a great honor to be picked when there are thousands of deserving young men and women. The issue comes out every PRI and I'm always interested to see who gets in because I love the purpose of what DI is doing with it. The future of our sport is important to me as well and I enjoy talking to young people that aspire to race as they get older. I relate in so many ways and when I was younger this seemed like a far-fetched dream. Being in the issue myself was like a dream come true. So PRI was extra-great this year with this honor and there's lots of exciting things happening for 2019.
Wishing everyone a safe and successful 2019! See you at the track!
- Marina Anderson
By Marina Anderson
March 16, 2018
Six months without going to a racetrack feels like an eternity. Finally, the winter is over and this past weekend was the first race of the season for the Anderson Family Dragster team. Neither my dad or I had ever been to National Trails Raceway, just outside of Columbus, OH. We decided to take the 8-hour tow for the first NHRA North Central Region race and it was worth it. I really liked that the track felt homey, tucked in between a few farms on a country road.
The first run of the season came after a full day of wind and rain. We couldn’t even keep the canopy of our tent up because it just looked like it was going to fly away. A 6.22-second pass was not what we were looking for, but we were No. 6 after Friday’s Q1 session. It was also the first pass of the season and there were a few changes I wanted to make since last year. The rain got even worse after our pass so we had to rush everything into the trailer and leave the track without even servicing the car.
Going into Saturday I was really motivated for more progress and anxious to get the car ready. I definitely think we got that progress. For a while now, I have really believed that the car may never smoke the tires. Being a new driver you want to prepare for every situation, but that was something I hadn’t experienced yet. Until Saturday. I got out of the car at the top end after Q2 and I almost didn’t believe what had just happened. I had one of the biggest smiles on my face because I knew what it meant. Smoking the tires means we have power. The whole weekend immediately felt more positive. On Q3 we were able to make the necessary adjustment to improve with a 5.58 at 231 mph.
Qualified No. 7 in an eight-car field isn’t the best place to start, but it meant a lot to us. Sunday marked our second time competing in first round eliminations. The odds always seem against the lower qualified car, but I was still optimistic. Anything can happen on race day and this team is full of determination. I wanted to give it my all, and to be honest, I almost gave it up. For some reason, I decided race day was the day to change up our routine on the starting line so that I would regulate the fuel myself. At first I wasn’t doing it correctly, but I caught myself before it was too late. The burnout and staging went by way too quickly for what would turn out to be my last run of the weekend. I left with the starting line advantage and ran our best eighth-mile speed. I was out in front until a few cylinders dropped and I saw Robin (Samsel) drive around me just a little bit before the finish line. I was pulling the chutes at the same time I was realizing how close that race was for us.
I often say I’m not a super-competitive person, but I think all drag racers are competitive by nature. You can support other racers and hope for the best for them, but still want to beat them when you’re head to head on the track. Replaying the moment when I saw him drive around me is motivation to get the car running even faster, keep going to races and trying to win rounds to get a Wally. Race weekends feel like they go by way too fast. I am really fortunate for the support we have received in the offseason from PMP, our team and other racers, too. Without this we wouldn’t have been able to see so much progress in Columbus. Can’t wait to see what is next for the AFD team in 2018. Onto the Chicago national event!
- Marina Anderson
THE WOMEN OF RACE & PERFORMANCE
By Marina Anderson
March 16, 2018
Winter in the Chicagoland area can get pretty boring when your favorite thing to do is a summertime sport. The racers that I know, myself included, are itching to get any taste of horsepower in the off months. Luckily, we have PRI (Performance Racing Industry trade show) to look forward to, and in Chicagoland we also have the Race & Performance Expo. February is the month we are all getting really sick of the gray skies and cold, but we find solace talking about our plans for the upcoming race season at the expo.
This year I was fortunate enough to be one of three panelists in the first-ever “Women of Race & Performance Seminar”. The seminar was moderated by Jeanette DesJardins of CarChix. Other panelists included Heather Dorethy from Precision Turbo & Engine and Natalie Decker, SLM Driver of the ARCA Racing Series. Natalie was just coming off the high of a great Daytona race. All three of us spoke from various backgrounds in racing, but we often agreed with each other’s responses. I love that CarChix is willing to step out of the box to create a space for women to network and help each other grow even when backgrounds are different. Any time Jeanette asks for help with something she is putting together for CarChix I am on board because I believe in what they do. Some of the themes that stuck out to me as universal in our seminar are laid out below.
Be true to yourself - This one is important in anything you do, but even more so when entering a world like racing. Don’t feel like you have to count yourself out just because you don’t have the same opportunities as someone else. You can get the same result by taking a different path, just always remember who you are.
Stay positive - Another fairly universal theme we talked about. There tends to be more critical judgement on females in a male-dominated world, but that shouldn’t affect you. Stay positive in the face of negativity. Sometimes the positivity is even infectious.
Network – Really, any big dream cannot be achieved completely on your own. You need support from the people around you, new and old. I have definitely seen this in my racing career. I’m fortunate for the people I have around me – this would not be possible without any one of them. In the seminar we spoke about how your connections make a big difference in your career in more ways than one. You have to be open to networking, though. Don’t be shy because you need help, and there are so many people who want to see you succeed. Social media has become a tool to use for networking. So many doors have opened just through the use of social media.
Never give up - Keep going even when there are setbacks. Those will make you stronger. Trust me when I say even one year ago today I didn’t know that I would get to enter an NHRA race in the car I built, but it happened because I did not allow myself or my team to give up. Keep going no matter what!
It’s really important to me to inspire the next generation with my story and that was part of the goal with the seminar. I also enjoyed getting to learn more about Heather and Natalie while participating in the seminar. It was a fun thing to be a part of for an offseason weekend.
The video of the Women Of Race & Performance Seminar is available through the CarChix website. LINK: http://carchix.com/wp/women-race-performance-seminar-video/
- Marina Anderson
PMP’s Featured Driver
February 4, 2018
How do you even get started in drag racing? People have told me that I’m not a legacy kid, but the truth is to me I am. Like most racers, I grew up around the drag strip; going to Friday night test sessions and spending every Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis watching the best of the best compete. I knew no different. I tried multiple hobbies from guitar to dance – you know, the things all young girls should try, but nothing felt right except when I was behind the wheel of something. Go-karts, dirt bikes, even my parents’ cars – I started driving way before most and begged my parents for more opportunities.
Sure, maybe you haven’t heard my dad’s name in the NHRA circuit before, but he is a grassroots racer with years of experience, from getting 19 tickets at one time by taking his Malibu “street” car for a joy-ride at 19 years old to being a crew chief on an Outlaw Nostalgia Top Fuel Dragster, the Frantic Fueler. Birthdays, family parties – all missed because, well, he was racing, and as soon as I was old enough to decide, I was going with. Racing was a part of my life before I even had a say, but neither my father nor I ever knew that we would get to compete in the NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster class. As a kid I dreamt of racing in the “big league” and wanted to get my start in Jr. Dragster. The majority of our time was spent working on the other cars; we didn’t know how to find the time or especially the money. It still didn’t change my mind.
At 17, I graduated high school early with my only focus being on getting a bachelor's degree and building my own race car at our friend Dave’s shop, Competition Fabrications. I remember the day I spent most of my savings from birthdays, holidays and working since I was 15 on my Strange rear end. From then on I think the guys knew I was serious. I went to Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School a couple months later to obtain my Super Comp license, which further solidified what I had known for years. It was in my blood, and nothing could stop my drive to get to the level of racing I strived for.
Every weekend and many week nights, we all worked at building my 275-inch rear-engine dragster from scratch. Yes, that means the chassis, the pedals, the fuel tank, the body was all handmade by us. Not many people do things this way anymore, but I was fortunate to have the necessary knowledge and support around me even when I didn’t have the pocketbook. This project started 8 years ago, almost to the day. There have been setbacks, but we kept pushing, and there was always some glimmer of hope forged by someone willing to help just because they believed in us.
After the car was built, the challenge was learning how to run the car. Through connections and great friends in the sport we have made a ton of progress on running the car. Last year was the year that we were able to get the car fast enough to upgrade my license. You probably have never seen anyone in the TAD class with that big of a smile after a 5.63-second, 232 mph run. We entered in one NHRA national event (Brainerd, MN) and two regional events (Earlville, IA and St. Louis, MO) and saw progress each time down the track, ending with our current best time, a 5.47 at 240 mph. It was an exciting year for the team that literally started with nothing but an empty jig table. We are looking forward to even more progress in 2018.
So how did I get to drive an injected nitromethane beast? Through an intro to drag racing from Dad, hard work and great friends. I hope you’ll follow along, as my journey doesn’t stop here.
- Marina Anderson