On April 2nd at 12:30pm, volunteer Vicki Shepherd will discuss her experiences in drag racing and how it has created life-long friends and become a family affair.
When I was 17 years old I took my parents car around the corner on two wheels. I suppose I should have known from very early that car racing would become a passion in my life.
Just a few years later, I married my husband Dan and spending our recreational time with cool cars became the norm. To name a few we had a 1968 Chevelle, 1952 pickup, a fully custom 1972 van, and along the way ended up with a 1964 CJ5 jeep.
By circumstance we took the jeep to a sand drag race and became hooked. Over the course of the next 20 years we worked on the jeep and drag raced as often as we could. Over time the jeep went from street legal to a full tilt, 600 horsepower race car.
And along the way we had 2 sons too. Our two sons essentially grew up at race tracks and working on cars. For us it was a favorite family activity.
Dan always kept the cars in top shape with his mechanic skills and we would share driving responsibilities – each competing at about 50% of the events. Even though this arrangement seemed unusual, we had an entire basement of trophies to prove it was successful. The only element of sand drag racing that I didn’t appreciate was women were required to compete against other women….
In the early 1990’s the sand racing movement of the 1970s and 80s had hit a wall and participation was low. Being natural competitors we gravitated to where the action was and chose to go asphalt racing. We sold the jeep, built a 1992 Camaro race car and began competing at Woodburn Dragstrip and other ¼ mile tracks in the northwest.
Over the years we added more horsepower to the Camaro and eventually it ran a best of 9.34 at 140mph in the ¼ mile. I still remember the first time I drove 140 mph and acknowledged to myself - I have experienced something most people will never experience. The Camaro was a great car that afforded us several victories – including an overall 2nd place finish in Woodburn’s Super Pro points which Dan and I had to earn together.
The asphalt racing also afforded another opportunity that I appreciated – women could compete against the men.
Fast forward to today where we currently own a rear engine big block Chevy dragster that makes about 950 horsepower and completes the 1/4 mile in 7 seconds at about 170 mph. Additionally, our son Nick, now grown, competes with us in his own car. In 2014 he finished as the Division 6 Pro Champion and raced in Pomona for a World title.
Although my garage is full of plaques and trophies, I would say that my biggest victories have come from the bonds of family and life long friends you make from sharing a passion like this together.