More and more women like Lisa Peddicord of Westminster are competing in motor sports. It is not unusual to find several women racing each week at area dragways. They become hooked on the sport as much as men do.
Lisa Peddicord did not start going to the drag strip until early last year. Her brother, Jim Peddicord, a regular at 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia, had been asking her to go with him to the races for some time. But Lisa, 26, wasn't interested; she was spending most of her time playing right field for Woodbine AC in the women's softball league.
"I would come home with bruises, muscle pulls and aches," explained Ms. Peddicord. "And my brother would tell me that I should take up drag racing -- it was safer, and I wouldn't get hurt."
Finally she made the trip with him in March of last year. Jim took her on a practice run down the quarter-mile. She liked it so much, she wanted to drive.
"My brother kept telling me how exciting it was, that the Powder Puff Derby would be a good time to start," she said.
A few weeks later, Ms. Peddicord entered her first race, a Powder Puff Derby where the women race each other. She went out and won.
She has been hooked ever since. Now Ms. Peddicord is twice as busy. Although drag racing has become her main interest, she continues to play softball.
After driving the race in her passenger car, Ms. Peddicord wanted a car of her own to race. Once again her brother came through. He gave her a car.
"Jim was going to get rid of it. It was just sitting around," she said. "He was going to junk it, so he decided to just let me drive it."
The car is a 1977 Ford LTD that was once a Sykesville police cruiser.
"I was so embarrassed," recalled Ms. Peddicord about her first time out. "The guys all kidded and said, 'Hey, look at this,' and wanted to race me. ButI won two trophies."
One weekend while Ms. Peddicord was at Ocean City on vacation, her brother decided to race the car. He lost on the first round. When she returned, she found that he had lettered "The Beast" in shoe polish on the back window.
From that time on, the car has been known as "The Beast."
Ms. Peddicord drives her car in the ETK Trophy Class for beginners. There is no prize money awarded; however, there are trophies. If you beat one car, you receive a trophy. Ms. Peddicord has won more than her share.
"I like the class; there's no pressure, and it is a lot of fun. Eventually I would like to move up and go faster. Maybe get a Mustang or a Fairlane," she said.
Everyone knows the Beast at 75-80. It is almost human.
"One weekend I raced my brother's car," said Ms. Peddicord. "The Beast got mad at me, and I lost in the first round three weeks in a row. I am going to stick with her for a while."
Like many drivers in drag racing, she finds that the first round has the most pressure. "If I win the first round, I am happy the rest of the night," she said. "I know if I make the first round, I will be able to race next week. If I lose, I am still happy."
By winning the first round, the driver is awarded a trophy or a pit pass for next week. If Ms. Peddicord wins, she knows she can afford to race. If not, her brother helps her out.
During the week, Ms. Peddicord is the assistant director at Kinder Kare in Eldersburg. She teaches 5-year-olds. Lisa has showed some of her trophies to the class, and they all ask her every Monday how she did racing.
Unlike most competitors in drag racing, Ms. Peddicord does little work on "The Beast." The car stays at the track. She never takes it home. She arrives at the track, starts up the car and races that day. When she is done racing, she parks the car for another week.
"The car doesn't have a license on it, and it is too big for a trailer," she said. "So Bill [Wilcom, the track owner] lets me keep it on the hill."
Ms. Peddicord is hooked on racing as if she had been around it all of her life.
"I like the excitement, the speed. I like going fast," she said. "I would have never dreamed three years ago that I would be drag racing. I don't know what would have happened if I had started earlier. I get the chill when I hear the motors."
Her adrenalin really flows when someone pulls on her when lining up for a run. Some drivers take a look at "The Beast," then see a woman behind the wheeland pull out of line in order to race against her. They think "The Beast" will be an easy run.
But "The Beast" is not an easy prey and usually wins. "I will race anyone," stated Lisa. "Cherry picking gets me excited. I know what I am doing. I am aware of what the other guy is doing."
Lisa and her brother, who races in Class II, won on Opening Day. They have been doing well ever since.