- Wednesday 03 July, 2013
For one Top Dragster driver, a parents' race at a two-day Junior Dragster event changed everything.
NORWALK, Ohio – Jennifer White enjoyed her role as a mom, caring for her family in the Houston, Texas area and volunteering at a school attended by her sons, Jackson and Mitchell.
But when the youngest started college at the University of Arkansas, the family focus shifted.
“We used to Junior Dragster race. We traveled all over the country with our two boys,” said Jeff White, Jennifer's husband. “Back then we traveled 20,000 miles a year with them. They raced from when they were eight and 10, until they were too big to fit in the cars.
“On the two-day big races, they have a parents' race,” Jeff White said. “Jennifer drove one of the cars and she liked how fast it was.”
“There's just a rush of adrenaline that can't be matched by anything I've ever done,” Jennifer White said.
“I said, 'I can get you a big car,'” said Jeff White.
So about five years ago, Jennifer White climbed into her own dragster, Poker Face. In 2011 she won the Top Dragster class at the National Hot Rod Association National event in Bristol, Tenn., Jeff White said. Last year Jennifer won runner-up in an NHRA Division 3 race in Columbus, Ohio.
“Every car has to have a name,” Jeff White said. “I'm the name-the-car person. Her favorite was Poker Face, it had a skeleton playing poker on it. Mitchell had Poker Face Jr., Jackson had a car called, 'Feel the Beat,' with 20 classic rock album covers on it. On the long skinny part on top, it had a guitar, because he loves music. On the side it said, 'You are about to feel the beat.' Like, 'I am going to beat you.'
“I like designing this stuff,” Jeff White said. “I like people to come up to the car and be visually impacted.”
For the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, Jennifer White lines up on Thursday, July 4, 2013 in the Top Dragster class in Spider Bite, a red and black 2013 Spitzer dragster with black spider graphics.
“I like it when the kids like the car, and from the stands it's visually appealing,” Jeff White said. “It's part of the deal.
“It's brand new. We started racing it in March,” Jeff White said. “We're out here having fun, sorting out this new car. I'm the guy who makes it all go, hopefully fast. Sometimes not so fast, depending on how good I am.”
Now that some of the adjustments aimed Spider Bite straight down the track, the Whites penciled the 6.20-second range as a next goal, along with avoiding tire shake.
“There are times when someone would like her old car back,” Jeff White said. With Jennifer's agreement, he laughed.
While competing at various tracks, the Whites heard about Summit Motorsports Park from other racers.
“We drove up the 1,300 miles to try your track,” Jeff White said. “We went to Cedar Point yesterday. It was a lot of fun. In Houston it's hot. We try to go to the cool areas. This is cool to us. We usually travel between 10,000 and 15,000 miles a year, just racing Top Dragster.”
Jennifer and Jeff met as accounting majors at the University of Texas, and married 25 years ago.
“We know each other very well,” Jeff White said.
He wears a Titleist hat while wrenching on Spider Bite.
“I grew up in a golfing family,” Jeff White said. “My brother was a professional golfer for awhile. My dad played golf. I was always fixing the golf carts and mowers and equipment.”
Jeff's father bought an automotive business, thinking Jeff would buy it from him when Jeff graduated from college. But Jeff decided the business didn't make enough money, and chose accounting as a profession. So they sold the business.
“I'm a CPA and a tax partner for a big accounting firm,” Jeff White said. “I have a whole bunch of good employees that work for me and let me travel.”
“After I got pretty successful as an accountant, I got back into the mechanics,” Jeff White said. “This is really my hobby. In the evening I'll be out in the shop working on cars. The kids have superchargers on their pickup trucks, they're out there with me. It's a good sport to spend time with the boys.”
Driving her son's Junior Dragster connected Jenniifer with memories of childhood.
“I grew up in South Texas,” Jennifer White said. “I was a member of the High School Rodeo Association, and the Texas Youth Rodeo Association. I did the speed events, barrel racing, poles. I always liked the speed. I sold my last horse when I was in college.
“I remember them fondly,” Jennifer White said. “I think every girl's first love growing up in Texas must be a horse.”
Jeff says when they arrive at a track, Jennifer feels nervous until she conquers the first pass.
“Then she says, 'When are we going to go again?'” Jeff White said. “We only race Nationals and Divisionals. She's never bracket raced. She doesn't have near as many laps as most people.”
Lining up against the big boys takes courage.
“One of my most intimidating things is: There aren't that many women drag racing. You're going against guys who have been drag racing for years, probably legally and illegally.
“Women shouldn't let it stop them from trying, because anybody can be beat on any day,” Jennifer White said. “If you love the thrill of speed, it's an awesome sport. And it's fun for families. And we have truly met the nicest people.
“When the boys were Junior Dragster racing, they had their weekend friends,” Jennifer White said. “There are people you look forward to seeing again when you're drag racing. It's fun for us to come out of state and see these amazing tracks and facilities.”
Jeff White linked the level of perfection needed to join the ranks of professional golfing, with Top Fuel and the other professional classes in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
“There are a lot of people who are 95 percent good enough,” Jeff White said. “There's only a couple who are that good.”
Sportsman racing allows teams to polish their game.
“Jennifer said, 'We're not winning very much.' I said, 'If we were winning all the time, it would be boring,'” Jeff White said. “It's hard. It's fun.
“We have fun doing it.”
The Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals launches Sportsman qualifying in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series at 9 a.m. Thursday, July 4, 2013 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
Check out the racing schedule and event details by clicking on: Let's catch the action!