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When Life is a Drag, Dial In

Photo by Photo courtesy of Savannah Dial

Photo by Photo courtesy of Savannah Dial

Matt Anderson and Ty Soutas, Staff Write & Sports Editor

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Whatever sport you may participate in, you might think it’s fast-paced. When, in reality, most of them have moments of slowness and/or timeouts. For senior Savannah Dial, there is no such thing as a dull moment or a water break while she’s competing.

Life is a drag for Savannah Dial. Her sport is drag racing—a high-velocity, automotive sport few people know much about. She races against other Junior Dragsters within the ages of 13-18, at a speed limit of 85mph elapsed over but a few short seconds.

Savannah’s race begins with two trial runs. Based on how well she performs, she is put into a pool of other competitors for the elimination rounds. Before the eliminations can occur, she must “Dial-in” how fast she predicts she’ll go.

The objective for the hotrods are to get as close as they can to their selected time interval than their opponent without false-starting or going overtime, or they’ll be disqualified. The racer closest to his or her time is determined the winner.

The biggest race Savannah has ever won occurred just last year where she ended up winning the Iron Man Trophy, which is the most prestigious trophy you can win in the International Hot Rod Association division (IHRA) .

Savannah said she got into the sport when she reached seven years old. Disney came out with a movie called Right On Track, a movie about sisters who wanted to race dragsters—an uncommon sport especially for girls.

“I watched the premier with my dad, and about halfway through the movie I turned to him and said, ‘Dad, I want to do that.’ The next spring when I was eight years old, I fell in love with it and I’ve done it ever since,” she explained.

The racing season starts in May and ends in September. There are usually two or three races per month during this period. When she is not in a race, Savannah is burnishing her Junior Dragster skills at Rocky Mountain Raceways.

For practices and races, Savannah has her own junior dragster.

“Well I should say my dad does. Basically my dad is the mechanic. He does all of the mechanical work on the car. I just keep my car clean and drive it,” she said.

Drag racing can be a treacherous sport, and sometimes Savannah gets apprehensive before her races, with good reason.

“There’s one time I almost crashed. As I pressed the gas my steering wheel came off. My car started veering towards the center-line,” she described. “I pulled the emergency kill-switch which cuts the engine no matter what. I don’t know how it happened, but the next thing I know I was facing the barrier parallel to the wall in the other lane. I have no recollection after I was facing the wall, but I didn’t crash the car and no one was hurt,” she said.

It was a good thing Savannah was wearing her safety gear.

“We have to wear so much safety gear: a helmet, a fire suit, a 5-point seatbelt, and within the seatbelt we have to hook up our arm restraints so that if the car were to role, our arms wouldn’t go outside the car. We have to have gloves, a neck brace—just all sorts of different stuff, “ she said.

Savannah is surrounded by good influences supporting her in her ambitions as a drag racer. Not only is her family very involved, but she also has a good relationship with another dragster here at Bingham High, Zac Haarbrink, a junior.

Said Savannah, “ We are good friends. I think he started racing the year after me. I’ve known him since we were nine, so we’ve always kind of had a friendly rivalry.”

You may think that since Savannah is an expert motorist that she would naturally have no problem driving an ordinary automobile. And you’re right, she has never crashed her car, but she has come very close.

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When Life is a Drag, Dial In