Sprint cars: or in other words, go-karts on steroids; these high-powered race cars are designed primarily for the purpose of running on short oval or circular dirt or paved tracks and can be heard even before stepping onto the racetrack.
Sprint cars have 900 horsepower, which is stronger than any other supercar. The sprint car can reach up 9000 revs per minute, which is more than any regular car. The sight of these sprint cars can be even more engaging than the sound. These sprint cars are built with the sole purpose of being enjoyable to both watch and listen to as they speed down a dirt track, with their sleek design, wings and variety of colours. As these cars zoom around the track, they can reach up to 320 kilometers per hour.
Hannah Ferrell, a first-year criminology student, doesn’t just enjoy watching sprint car races; she spends a majority of her free time between May and September repairing and racing her very own sprint car. “I started racing sprint cars in 2015 after racing go-karts since 2008… it is something that my dad and cousins also grew up doing which is why I wanted to try it,” said Ferrell. “It’s a very family-oriented environment, even besides your family being there. A lot of people you meet end up becoming close like family,” said Ferrell.
Even though Ferrell describes the environment as family-oriented, most people would probably think before getting into a car that powerful. However, in Ferrell’s case, she craves it more and more every time she goes for a race. “Racing itself is awesome, I love going fast and just the feeling of doing a perfect lap feels great….when I’m doing really good in the race and contending for a podium spot I tend to get quite nervous though, definitely get the shakes,” said Ferrell.
One of the biggest things that sets Ferrell apart from other competitors is her gender, and she realizes every day that she is challenging the norms of sprint car racing. “As a girl it feels pretty cool to be in this sport because it opens a lot of eyes. Usually my class has over 30 entries per night and only two of us are girls,” said Ferrell. But despite these statistics, she continues to race and prove that there is no reason to stereotype genders when it comes to sprint car racing.
There are two different types of sprint cars that can be raced. Ferrell drives a winged sprint car, which is a more advanced and safer version than the original sprint car. According to uksprintcars.co.uk the added wings increase the downward force on the car and they work hand-in-hand with the opposite direction of the sideboards in helping to turn the car around corners. The increased traction makes the car faster and easier to control.
Ferrell drives for her team Bar Motor Sports about twice a week. This sprint car weighs about 1400 pounds, which calls for a very high power-to-weight ratio. Cost amount to approximately $20,000 for the chasse and motor for her personal car. On top of the original price, Ferrell has to factor in entry costs to all of her races, race fuel and gas that transports her from race to race. This adds up to around $250 every night she has a race. “When I first started racing, my parents helped out a lot because I was young… Now I have the help of a lot of sponsors such as car dealerships, auto repair shops and many others in the automotive industry,” said Ferrell.
Another factor that Ferrell has learnt to manage is her time. For five months of the year she races twice a week — races can go late into the night — as well as spending plenty of hours on her sprint car making adjustments and making sure the car is reaching the racing and safety standards before it is taken out on the track. “In years before I have spent so much time on my car but for the 2018 – 2019 year I got lucky because a lot of repairs did not need to be made,” said Ferrell. “The one good thing about racing any car but sprint cars in particular is that you do not need to and are not allowed to practice with your car…. You can only practice at the beginning of the night on the track for a lap or two,” she said.
Laurier Brantford currently does not have any kind of sprint car racing team or club and according to Ferrell: “It would be really tricky to have a team or club just because of the overall costs and the interest….it is more of a family or community event but I am glad to share my hobby with Laurier.”