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People are always surprised when they find out I race, not so much because I’m a girl, but because I’m shy and fairly reserved. I guess you wouldn’t really expect a girl with those qualities to enjoy the competitive, aggressive, adrenaline rushes of drag racing, but it happens.
As for being a female in a male dominated sport, I don’t really think about it too much, though I know some people like to make a big deal out of it. A good example of this is my first round at the National Open in St. Louis. I raced this older guy and beat him (I ran a 9.904 on a 9.900 dial – I was out of the throttle the last second of the run). Come to find out, he hates racing women because he believes women can never be good drivers (funny how things work out…). As for me, I didn’t think twice about it. I just did what I know how to do. I don’t encounter this kind of attitude very often, though. What I see most of the time is people coming up to me and telling me they’re excited and rooting for the female drivers, which is exciting.
Racing has been a part of my family my whole life. My grandfather started the tradition back in the sixties and seventies. He raced front engine dragsters, rear engine dragsters and altereds out in Pittsburgh, PA, and brought his family along with him.
My dad’s exposure to the industry led to a passion for it. As a result, I grew up watching races and, later, going to the races with the rest of my family. In 1994 dad (Steve Matusek) started Aeromotive, which is a company that makes high performance fuel systems for cars. Racing, for him, is the research and development aspect of Aeromotive.
I started racing Junior Dragsters when I was fifteen. My sister, Jessi, got interested in it first by seeing the movie “Right on Track” on the Disney Channel. I happened to see that movie too and thought it looked like a fun thing to try. We got our first car in May 2004. When it got to us, it was painted yellow with “The Banana” on the side. We got it painted to look like our dad’s 2000 roadster-styled Mustang, which was one of the cars he was driving at the time.