By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor
Huron High School junior and self-proclaimed adrenalin junky Gabby Mayrend says she has a need for speed. And how! In her very first drag racing experience, driving a 2002 Mercury Sable she borrowed from a neighbor, she ended up capturing first place in the Washtenaw County Battle of the Schools Bracket 2 at the Milan Dragway.
“Drag racing really isn’t anything that pertains to this class,” said Gabby, 16, taking a break during an automotive repair class recently at Huron. “But Mr. Snyder knew about the event happening and that high school students were invited. And basically, his comment was that any of us who showed up to spectate on that day, he’d grill for us on the day. And so we could either come to be spectators or to race, and I was like, `Racing sounds kind of cool.'”
When her mother got the word out that Gabby needed a car to race, and a neighbor offered his. All she had to do was rotate the wheels and tune it up to make sure everything was working well enough to get her down the track.
Drag racing bracket racing is based on reaction time and consistency, Gabby explained.
“Drag racing isn’t actually racing against the other car,” she explained, referring to her bracket of high school students. “It’s racing against your personal timing. And your goal is to write a time on your car and you have to either match that time or get as close as you can to that time consistency-wise to get a better score. So the morning you come in is trial runs it as many runs as you want down the track for a couple of hours. And it’s just you setting up that time for yourself. And it’s a little bit of a competition speeding down during the trial.”
At the end of the day, she was named the winner with a time of 16.5 seconds going from zero to the end of the half-mile track.
Her automotive teacher, Vince Snyder, said that most people don’t realize that drag racing at the high school level or college level can be a sport that can offer scholarships.
“So we’re happy that Washtenaw Community College actually sponsors the event,” Snyder said.
“They rent out the whole track. They invite all of our high schools in the local area, which is just a great benefit for the students to practice safe aftermarket modifications on their vehicles as well as bringing a culture for students to collaborate.”
Which is why Gabby intends to compete again in the spring.
” I’ve already talked to the owner of the car about borrowing it again so that I can possibly get some college scholarship,” she said.
Was she scared at all?
“I don’t know if I’d call it scary but I’m a little bit of an adrenaline junkie,” she says. “I like doing things that are a little bit … I guess oddball. But I’d say once you’re on the track racing, you definitely get that rush of adrenaline. It’s just you, the car, and the track. You don’t really watch anything else by the time you hit the pedal.”
Gabby plans to go on to college to major in mechanical engineering after she graduates in 2024.