Amazing 143 degree natural thermal waters with rumored magic healing powers, that's what Hot Springs, Arkansas is best known for, not racing. Although, if Lakeside High School senior, Nikki Dunn has anything to say about it, Hot Springs National Park, the first federally protected area in the national park system will be the second most famous attraction in the area.
Abe Neyland, publisher of Life & Home magazine lent Nikki the car and Rick Williams, proprietor of The Atrium at Serenity Pointe, backed her financially in her Enduro debut at I-30 Speedway.
After an engine overhaul on the borrowed Camaro and a new hot pink and black paint job, Nikki was ready to race.
"The racing bug first bit me when I was eight-years-old, which was ten years ago. My family has been racing for many years, my dad raced, and so did my grandfather," said Nikki explaining her genetically driven need for speed. "I always loved the movie Right on Track too, because it showed me that racing was not just a man's sport, it was also a woman's sport. I fell in love with racing instantly when I was young watching my dad race, and wanted a car ever since I was little."
Her dad, Ricky, was a drag racer, and that's what she's been doing for the past ten years already now. "I seem to fall more in love every time I race," said Nikki. "I love the adrenaline rush that you get for the few seconds that you are in the car. But, recently I have become a big fan of dirt track racing, which has shown me another side to racing, and I have also fallen in love with it too, because it's not just in a straight-line and you are out there for longer than just a few seconds."
It would be fair to say that Nikki simply loves all things racing, two of the racers she most admires are Danica Patrick and Ashley Force-Hood, and like her two idols, Nikki too likes to redefine perceptions and smash through limiting barriers. Nikki recently jumped from racing a quarter-mile at a time to running in her first Enduro race at I-30 Speedway in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Enduro in this case was a 200-lap race that lasted two hours, with the win going to the first car to complete all 200 laps, or the last car running. For Nikki, one of the most exciting aspects of the race was being the only female.
"My race on the 6th (May) was my first ever dirt track race, so I was in a completely different world from what I am used to," said Nikki. "My car ended up over heating after about 50 laps, so I backed off and let it cool down and then I pushed my car until it would not go no more, and that was at about lap 75."
In a car loaned to her from Abe Neyland, publisher of Life & Home magazine and with a generous race sponsorship care of Rick Williams, proprietor of The Atrium at Serenity Pointe, Nikki was able to successfully further whet her racing cravings and exercise her considerable driving skills. Nikki's dream is to someday race on the national stage, but she remains realistic about her chances, acknowledging the vast amounts of money required to live the dream.
"I would love to become an NHRA driver one day, but I have plenty to work on to get to that point," she says. "I would love to one day race with Ashley Force, but I need way more practice, an even bigger race car and more sponsorships."
Nikki says she has used a K&N air filter on all her race cars since she first began racing and she has one on her truck, and that was by choice not because she was sponsored by K&N. Although a sponsorship would be great, for now she remains grounded and focused on getting her basics out of the way at National Park Community College next year, with the goal of entering nursing school.
Team Dunn, which includes her dad Ricky, grandfather Richard, her sister Emily and family friend Cody Howerton, will race their next Enduro back at I-30 Speedway on June 24, 2012.
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