ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Drag racing returns to Raceway Park in New Jersey this weekend.
Racing is one of the few sports where men and women compete against each other.
It’s called the National Hot Rod Association, and the women are not only competing against the men, they’re dominating, CBS2’s Steve Overymyer reports.
The cars go fast — some hit 330 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds. Every millisecond is measure. What doesn’t matter is gender.
Erica Enders is a two-time world champion pro stock drag racer.
“Eyes high, shift light comes on for second, third, fourth and fifth,” she explains.
The car doesn’t care if you’re male or female. It comes down to reaction time, and Enders is one of the best.
“Getting on a roller coaster and you’re click, click, click,” she says. “When I’m on the starting line and I dump the clutch, that’s that free fall over the edge.”
There is one difference, though.
“Don’t raise your hands and don’t scream,” Enders says.
Drag racing has been a leader in diversity for years.
Shirly Muldowney won her first world championship back in 1977, and the current points leaders in the top fuel class is Leah Pritchett.
“The women that are doing so well out here, it’s because we’re fearless,” she says.
Overymyer: “Does it feel more impactful that you’re doing this in a testosterone-seething sport?”
Pritchett: “I would say it does. I would say it takes a lot of guts for men to be OK with a female beating them. Some men take it OK, the boys don’t take it very well.”
In this world, everything is expensive. It costs $15,000 every trip down the track. And to get behind the wheel of an 11,000 horsepower demon, it takes a special psyche.
“It touches your soul — the nitro-methane, the power, the feel, the 11,000 horsepower. And I’ve never seen or felt anything like it in the world,” Pritchett says.
“Every car that you drive has a different personality,” Enders says, adding the spirit of her car is “bad ass.”
The racers are clearly inspiring a younger generation, as well. Right now on the junior drag racing circuit, more than half of the competitors are female.