Kansas-based Jr. dragster racer Lauren Dodd has become one of the top names in the class. Payton Cusimano provides an insight into Lauren’s racing career.
Cover photo by Lou Crouch.
Eight back to back wins at five different race tracks, in five weeks. Talk about impressive..
Lauren Dodd is a 17-year-old student from Wichita, Kansas. She has been around the sport of drag racing ever since her dad introduced it to her at a young age. Like most kids, her racing career started in a junior dragster.
In 2010, for her 9th birthday her dad bought her a junior dragster and she started racing it in 2011. She has only competed in the junior ranks but will be jumping into a big car next year. The junior dragster she drives now was built by Motivational Tubing in 2015 and has a 3-5/16 Nic Woods 7.90 motor on board.
When Lauren was younger she was heavily involved in softball and soccer. She loved to be competitive and even competed on a boys’ soccer team. Around middle school, she had to make a choice to continue softball or go racing and I’m sure you can guess, she picked racing.
Lauren is a part of the FTI Farm Team. Owner, Greg Samuel and Troy Williams Jr. took Lauren under their wing and helped mentor her into the competitive driver she is today. Lauren says that she owes Greg and Troy for 100% of her success as a driver. She is the second member of the team with Gage Burch being the first. There are now 11 FTI Farm Team members around the country.
Her accomplishments are impressive, but it’s her humble attitude that sets her aside from the rest. She goes into the race with a positive mindset and stays calm and collective. She’s a quiet kid who sometimes keeps to herself but isn’t afraid of a challenge. You don’t see her online boasting about her wins or championships instead you see a mature racer who knows how to keep it classy.
In the last few years, she has won numerous track championships and division races. Lately, she has focused on traveling to junior big money racing events rather than chasing points at a local track.
This year, some of her accomplishments include a $5,000 win at Ben Willis’ race at Kentucky Dragway and a triple up at Rob Reynold’s Back to School race at Emerald Coast Dragway in Holt, Fl.
When asked about what it feels like to be a women racer Lauren responds with, “Being a female in what people think as a male-dominated sport is cool to me. It is interesting because when I am at the racetrack and I look throughout the lanes, there seems to be a lot more girls now.”
What she likes best about racing is being able to travel and meet new people. She says, “There is no family like a racetrack family. They are just more people I can relate to! Hanging out at the racetrack and sharing laughs.”
Lauren says that she would like to thank her dad for believing in her and for always making sure that she has the best equipment to perform with.
She says, “Through my learning curve of racing he never gave up and just encouraged me to keep going. I will never forget when I got my first win and he was so proud! He spends so much time and is so dedicated when it comes to racing, and without him I wouldn’t be as confident or skilled as I am.”
Lauren would also like to thank FTI Converters and Transmissions. Owners Greg and Phaedra are so supportive and are very involved with the junior dragster program across the whole country. She says, “I can’t thank them enough for all they have done and the support they have given to me these past few years.”
Even when racing 30-35 weeks out of the year, Lauren keeps up with her schoolwork and grades. She will be graduating in the top 5% of her class this year. She is still unsure about where she will be after graduation but she has plenty of time to decide.
A message that she would send to younger racers would be, “If you don’t have a positive attitude towards things, you will never get better. Always ask for help and ask for advice on how to become a good racer. Everyone goes through a learning curve and you’ll eventually become one of the best if you keep your head up through the losses and tough times!
Lauren Dodd Accomplishments
- 21 Wally’s in total
- 2x Division 4 Champion
- 3x Tulsa Raceway Park Champion
- $5K Ben Willis’ Race Winner
- Triple up at Back to School Race
- 2x IHRA Individual Champion
- 3x Kansas State Champion
- High 5 Energy race Winner
- Many more…
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About the Author: Payton Pillinger is a 23-year-old bracket racer living in Nashville, TN. She races a S10 truck in Pro at local tracks around her home. She graduated from the University of Tampa with her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations and Advertising in 2020. Payton is also the owner and creator of the female motorsports association, Chicks on Slicks.