Emma Ballard might be following in her father's drag racing tracks with a visit to Indianapolis for the Summit Racing Series Finals at the end of the summer.
The 17-year-old Emma is part of the Ballard Family Racing drag racing team with her 12-year-old sister, Arley. Emma will be racing primarily at the Byron Raceway in Illinois in both the high school and street eliminator classes.
Arley Ballard races a junior dragster at Byron Raceway, but will be moving up in class competing with teenagers regulary
Ballard Family Racing drag racing team Emma and Arley Ballard
But her ultimate goal is to race in the Summit Racing Series Finals at Indianapolis.
"Anybody can win. I feel like I can do it if I set my mind to it," said Emma Ballard. "I'm going to be happy to be there. If I win, I win. If I don't, I know I tried my hardest. It's so overwhelming to think that I could be at Indy."
Mike Ballard, who manages his daughter's team, raced at Indianapolis when he was younger. His racing days are over, but he would like to see his oldest daughter lay some rubber on the Indy strip.
"When I was racing, we all traveled as a family most of the time," Mike Ballard said. "She has memories of some of the different tracks that we used to go to."
She won a race in the high school division at Tri-State Raceway in Iowa in 2012. Her dad said he wants to take both his daughters to different race tracks and have them gain some valuable experience this year.
"You gotta keep a balance," Mike Ballard said. "We can't do it all the time. We're going to do more than what we did last year."
Emma Ballard won a race in the high school division at Tri-State Raceway in Iowa in 2012
Emma finished third in points in the high school division at Byron Raceway. Her dad would like to see her repeat, if not improve on last year's results.
"I'd like to see her finish in the top three in high school and in the top 10 in street eliminator," Mike Ballard said. "Ultimately, qualify to go to Indianapolis."
Emma said she is looking forward to racing in two divisions.
"This past year in the high school, there was only five or six people," Emma said. "There was more chance of me winning. In street eliminator, there is 30-something cars there. It's tougher to win, even getting to the semifinals. They're a lot of fun. I like them both, but high school is a lot easier to win in."
Arley Ballard is making a move up in class. She races a junior dragster at Byron Raceway, but will be competing with teenagers on a regular basis for the first time in her career.
She won two races and had three runner-up finishes at Byron Raceway last year.
"Last year was her first full season. She did very well," Mike Ballard said. "She picked up on it real quick. Arley picks the stuff up real quick."
She won her first race on the same day her sister won in Iowa. But she has a hard time recalling exactly how the race unfolded.
"I'm not sure," Arley said. "I don't remember exactly what happened."
Arley has a lofty goal for her drag racing season too. She wants to race in Bristol, Tenn., in a junior dragster nationals event at the end of the summer.
"It would be really amazing if I could make it that far," Arley said. "It would just be really exciting. It's cool to be a part of that and to think I might have a chance to be in the nationals."
Her dad said he would like to see Arley be a top-five driver at Byron and race well enough to make it to Bristol.
"I really think she's capable of being in the top five," Mike Ballard said. "The junior dragsters have a conference final down in Bristol, Tennessee. We'd like to be able to take her to that. That's a big one."
The team uses K&N products in their dragsters and has no complaints. Mike Ballard said he even trusts them in his lawn mower.
"K&N has helped our team in a lot of ways," Mike Ballard said. "Not only are they of the highest quality, they help our tow vehicle get better fuel economy going to and from the races, they lower our operating cost since we don't have to keep replacing the filters while giving all our engines the best possible protection. We even have one on our lawn mower and I love not having to buy a new filter every spring."
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