Drag Racing Is the Sport Where Gender Does Not Matter

From competing in professional golf to participating at the Olympic Games, the vast majority of sanctioned sporting events have distinct divisions for the sexes... but not the National Hot Rod Association. Since the premiere divisions of the NHRA features rocket ships on wheels with a nitro-burning 10,000-horsepower power plant that generates six Gs at speeds nearing 350 mph, drag racing is arguably the only mainstream sport in which women compete head-to-head with men in the "macho world of speed".

Although it is true that athleticism is needed to compete in the world's fastest sport, a driver does not need the massive physique and bulk strength of a Pro Bowl linebacker in the NFL; or the footwork of a World Cup soccer player; or the wingspan of an NBA basketball star. Nonetheless, from Pro Stock Motorcycles to Top Fuel Dragsters, a majority of races are won at the starting line, which requires lightening fast reflexes and exceptional hand-eye coordination to expertly time the descending column of lights known as the Christmas Tree.

At the Cedars-Sinai's Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, Dr. Vernon Williams is a sports neurologist who has studies neurological contributions to performance, such as concentration, vision and reaction time to help determine an athlete's speed of mental processing. Although male participants had slightly faster visual and auditory reaction times than women do, the difference did not provide an advantage like being taller, faster or stronger. In fact, women may have a physical advantage because of their body weight. The NHRA requires racecars to meet a minimum weight, including the driver. This allows the crew to add weight to the racecar where it is most needed.

Premiere Drag Racing is a unique sport in that all genders compete in the same class for the same championship titles. The competitive divisions do require that you have to be on time in hitting the throttle off the start, especially in Top Fuel (called diggers), Funny Car (called floppers), and Pro Stock (called doorslammers).  Currently in Top Fuel, Brittany Force and Leah Pritchett have clinched a berth in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. In Pro Stock, Erica Enders has clinched her berth, whereas Courtney Force retired in January from her ride in the Funny Car division for 2019.

Kudos to the National Hot Rod Association and all of the male competitors who helped attract and have welcomed women into the fastest sport on the planet.


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