Drag Illustrated Issue 179, November / December 2022 | Page 119


■ BY HER OWN ADMISSION , Kelly Kundratic has been afforded wonderful opportunities in the sport of drag racing . The optimistic 29-year-old Northeasterner admits that the journey hasn ’ t been easy , though , particularly as she has also aspired to grow a meaningful off-track career , volunteer within her community , and manage
November / December 2022 independent home ownership .
“ I ’ m truly grateful for everything that has helped me get to where I am ,” says Kundratic , who started in the Jr . Dragster ranks and later claimed the High School championship at her home track before moving into a richly educational stint in bracket racing . Kundratic now stretches across all of the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series categories as she competes in her Super Street Monte Carlo ( a 10.90 car ) at NHRA national and divisional events , and wheels Marina Anderson Garlick ’ s 5-second Top Alcohol Dragster at speeds in excess of 250 mph .
In pursuit of her drag racing dream , Kundratic initially came on board as part of the crew on the A / Fuel rail , and she learned everything she possibly could about the car under Garlick ’ s direction . Eventually , she earned seat-time and reached the incredible goal of licensing in Top Alcohol Dragster .
Kundratic was thrilled to make her debut in the competitive category this year at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk . She ran a career-best number in the final qualifying session to earn a spot in the field in her very first attempt .
The second-generation racer recognized what it took to get to this part of her story .
“ I ’ ve had my share of setbacks , incidents , accidents , and failures ,” shares Kundratic . “ I ’ ve pushed myself to ‘ do a lot with a little ,’ as a person of modest means and a full plate , and I ’ ve relied on my work ethic , integrity , and ability to develop authentic relationships to get me to where I am today . I know those are the same things that will get to me to where I want to go next .”
Kundratic would like to continue racing the alcohol dragster and also her Monte Carlo , and one of the challenges she faces is that she values her career as much as she values her future in drag racing . The level of passion and effort for both never dwindle .
Outside of racing , Kundratic is the Director of Agriculture Policy for Team Pennsylvania , a nonprofit with the mission of accelerating Pennsylvania ’ s economy through public-private partnership . Her position is that of relationship-builder between the highest levels of state government and the industry .
Kundratic has done an excellent job of balancing racing with a career that has nothing to do with such things , and she said that the route to building a fulfilling life has already been incredibly rewarding . Kundratic ’ s future goals are to continue competing in Top Alcohol Dragster alongside her partner , John Ausherman , who also licensed in the class this year . Her passionately full plate now includes seeking genuine and substantial partnerships to build upon their joint goals in racing .
“ I will always be proud of the times I ’ ve been tested yet stuck to my values , been true to myself , and represented my family and those associated with me to the best of my ability ,” says Kundratic . “ To be recognized in a community as talented and large as what we have with drag racing is a true honor . There are many people I can think of that are deserving of the recognition , [ so ] it ’ s very humbling to know that others recognize that same level of hustle and fire in me .” – KELLY WADE DI
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