Drag Illustrated Issue 115, November 2016 | Page 85

come and you see the car , but your experience is really with the people . That ’ s why they always put a person on the cover . It ’ s about the people . Yes , it ’ s about the car and its performance , but what people are really going to remember is their interaction with you . So that ’ s something I strive to always make a priority . Especially with little kids , I always try to go out of my way to talk to them on eye level and have fun with them .
“ Actually , the most fulfilling thing I ’ ve done to date , even aside from the jet I have to say , is being able to go back to my elementary school with my Top Dragster and display it in the parking lot and have all the little kids get close to it and hear it start up . I always like to give back to my community , if there ’ s any way that I can do so .”
Even though she ’ s only 24 , Edwards seems to have an innate knowledge of furthering herself , her racing career , and the sport as a whole . Her ability to endear people to her with her disarming smile and energetic embrace of life and drag racing earned her a hefty amount of nominations for DI ’ s 30 Under 30 this year . But she ’ s not just passionate and approachable ; she ’ s markedly
professional .
“ My parents had no idea what a family fun night in the summer would turn into , creating a little motorhead monster out of me ,” laughed Edwards . “ It ’ s very surreal . Last fall it was like , ‘ Is this really happening ?’ I mean , who gets this opportunity ? But I always knew I wanted to somehow become a professional race car driver . With most people who bracket race , it ’ s a hobby . They don ’ t name their car or anything . I knew I wanted my car to have an identity . I named it Queen Bee and made my own Facebook page . When I would do car shows I would make sure my parents and my boyfriend all had on a nice polo embroidered with our logo . And then on the track , everybody had to wear a crew shirt . If fans came with us , they had to wear one of our t-shirts . I always treated what I did as professional as possible .”
That approach no doubt played a part in Edwards scoring the opportunity to drive for Hanna Motorsports . Although she was capable of piloting a 180 mph Top Dragster machine , Edwards
was still largely unproven in the racing industry . The faith Al Hanna showed in her was well-rewarded , however . Edwards was a natural behind the wheel of the jet , which easily goes 5.20s in the quarter-mile .
“ When the time came to transition into the jet , my parents were definitely a little on the nervous side . It ’ s a bigger beast ; it ’ s a lot more dangerous , but how do you turn down that offer when that ’ s the car you saw as a little girl that made you want to do this one day ? You never think you ’ re going to get the opportunity to do it . So we knew we had to .
“ When I made my first passes in the jet car , my poor team could never get a reaction out of me . I ’ m just like , ‘ Yeah it was good .’ They were like ‘ You just went 300 miles an hour !’ And I was like , ‘ Wasn ’ t that what I was supposed to do ?’”
Because of that reaction , the team nicknamed Edwards “ Little Miss Matter of Fact ”. It seems that driving a jet car was something she was born to do . With a seamless transition , her first season piloting the jet dragster was a notable success . “ In my other car you had the shake of the motor ; you had the tire grip ,” she continued , explaining the differences between the two machines . “ When I got into this car , it was flawless . It was smooth as glass . You had all the thrust behind you so you were basically just being pushed . It ’ s so graceful . But when you go to pull the ‘ chutes , that ’ s when the games begin , because when you pull the ‘ chutes after a 300-plus mile an hour run that can be violent , but that ’ s my favorite part . In my other car , the launch was my favorite part . My head would be thrust back and I could feel the movement of the car .”
Edwards consistently expresses gratitude to her parents for supporting her in this journey , as well as her boyfriend . They all pitch in on the Hanna Motorsports team where needed . It ’ s indeed a family affair for both the Edwards and the Hannas .
“ My parents come to every single race . They rally . My dad and I pack the ‘ chutes together . That ’ s our time . He pulls me to the starting line . My mom is there throughout the day . She ’ s a huge help with selling the merchandise . She ’ s our cheerleader . I have extremely dedicated and proud parents . They and my boyfriend always support me one thousand percent . We ’ re really happy where we are . I reached my ultimate dream . I ’ ll continue to live this out as long as I ’ m fortunate enough to . I don ’ t know how it gets much better than this .” – LISA COLLIER DI
November 2016
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