MOUNT VERNON — There’s a youth movement at Pacemakers Dragway Park.
Not really, but for Friday, that’s the way it appeared. For one day, the high school kids took to the track in their own competition.
Mount Vernon High School junior Taylor Zolman took her mom’s station wagon into the elimination round with a first-round bye. Her family, which has a multi-generational racing tradition, firmly approved.
“My mom knows,” said the 16-year-old Zolman, smiling. “I’ve been racing since I was about eight in junior dragsters. I race my mom’s car every Friday. Dad tells her it had to be okay.”
Zolman’s racing career is about to pick up some speed with a new car on the horizon for her.
“I’m getting ready to move up and get a little faster,” said Zolman. “I’ll be getting my license in the big-time cars. I’ll be running Super Pro, Sportsman and some other classes. I’m going to run Sportsman (today). I ran it last weekend and I did pretty good.”
“The common thought, back in school was, ‘She’s a girl and she can’t do that.’ I get so tired of hearing that.”Taylor Zolman
For Zolman, stepping into the big cars doesn’t mean that there is no turning back.
“My sisters took over my junior dragster,” said Zolman. “I get to race it every now and again for a special event but, that’s about it.”
For Zolman, who hardly looks her age, sometimes it’s difficult to convince people that she really is a race car driver.
“Some of my friends don’t believe me,” said Zolman. “Many know that I’m a big tomboy and I go out paint balling.”
Zolman is really happy to see that there were several girls in ranks of junior racers and high schoolers on Friday.
“I think that there needs to be more girls,” said Zolman. “There’s a pretty good percentage of girls. It’s gotten pretty popular with girls. It’s good to see girls out here doing well, too. The common thought, back in school was, ‘She’s a girl and she can’t do that.’ I get so tired of hearing that.”
For Pacemakers owner Mike Fouts, these high school dragster races are more opportunities to get young people excited about racing.
“We’ve actually started a high school race class just for the high school kids,” said Fouts. “Even after they graduate in the spring, they can still race in it the following summer. We try to get them in here to have some fun and enjoy the competition. We don’t have quite the turnout that I would like to have, but we have several that come out on the Friday nights and run eliminations and we have a points championship for them at the end of the year.”