23-Year-Old among the Favorites in PDRA Dragstock XI at Rockingham Dragway

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. – Frank Brandao’s highly-modified 2009 Dodge Stratus, a vehicle known to rivals as “King Kong 5,” is not a race car for the faint of heart. Powered by a 903 cubic inch engine equipped with electronic fuel injection and a four stage nitrous oxide system that helps deliver a whopping 3,000 horsepower, it can accelerate from zero to 200 miles per hour in 3.7 seconds.

Those are the numbers expected from the black Dodge when it competes this week in Dragstock XI at Steve Earwood’s Rockingham Dragway. It’s not the kind of performance typical of your garden variety hot rods or even of exotics like Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis, for that matter.

Nevertheless, it’s the norm in the Professional Drag Racing Association series that returns to The Rock this weekend for an encore presentation.

What isn’t normal is the fact that one of the most powerful Pro Nitrous race cars on the planet is driven by a petite, 120-pound brunette who also enjoys yoga and fashion design.

At 23, Lizzy Musi is anything but one-dimensional. In addition to racing in the world’s premier eighth-mile series, the native of Carteret, N.J. also has a liking for motocross and surfing and her musical tastes run from country to hip-hop and classic rock.

The daughter of Pat Musi, one of the most decorated racers and engine builders in history, Lizzy is one of the rising stars in one of drag racing’s most popular classes.

In fact, in just her fifth professional race, she earned a breakthrough victory earlier this year at Dinwiddie, Va., where she became the only driver this year to beat series champ Jason Harris.

Like Harris, Musi got her start in the Jr. Dragster division in which she raced from 1999 through 2007.

In 2012, her dad put her in a Top Sportsman car but, after some initial success, things took a negative turn when she crashed heavily during a race in Bristol, Tenn.

“I could feel the car hopping on its side and all I see is the wall,” she recalled. “At that moment, I’m like, ‘OK . . . What’s going to happen now? I’d really better hold on.’ I had no idea. All of a sudden the car lifted up and I’m looking down, literally, at the wall. It was like I was on a ride or something, like one of those at an amusement park.”

Miraculously, Musi emerged unscathed, though, and the incident is now just ancient history for the second generation racer whose dad provides not only the engine in her hot rod but the knowledge born of a career of success in Pro Stock, Pro Modified and virtually every outlaw street category imaginable.

“Still, to this day, I’m learning, every step of the way,” Lizzy said. “There’s so much to experience in these cars.”

What the Mooresville resident is experiencing right now, though, is the kind of success her father expected from the start.

“I’m so proud of her,” he gushed. “She grew up around this stuff and has just soaked it up. She’s a natural. I try to help her all I can. We talk racing all day at the shop and then all night at home.”

Those conversations have paid big dividends this year. Coming in, she is the only Pro Nitrous driver other than Harris to have won a race; she’s started from the No. 1 qualifying position (with a record time of 3.740 seconds) and she’s become the first woman and just the second Pro Nitrous driver to break the 200 mph barrier.

As for the crash, her dad was able to put it in perspective.

“It’s not a matter of IF you’re going to crash, but WHEN,” said the veteran who builds engines for a number of the sport’s top runners including Harris. “We’ve all crashed, but she did exactly what we told her.

“She learned a lot from that accident,” he said. “(She) has taken her time to learn the ins and outs and has done a great job of rolling with the punches.”

For father and daughter, it’s a mutual admiration society.

“What I admire most about him is how passionate and determined he is about what he does,” she said. “I wanted to follow in his footsteps. To be able to race with him is really cool and I can’t thank him enough for being there for me and giving me this opportunity.”

“She can drive, there’s no doubt about it,” said her proud papa. “She doesn’t get rattled. She’s the real deal.”

Musi will make her first qualifying attempt on Friday with three more on Saturday and eliminations on Sunday. In addition to Pro Nitrous, Dragstock XI champions also will be crowned in Pro Extreme, Pro Boost, Extreme Pro Stock, Extreme Motorcycle, Top Sportsman, Top Dragster, two Jr. Dragster classes, a jet funny car and the South East Gassers.

Tickets are available on-line at www.rockinghamdragway.com.

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. – Some of the most remarkable race cars in the world, among them a 1953 Studebaker replica capable of zero-to-200 mile-an-hour acceleration in 3.5 seconds, will descend on Steve Earwood’s Rockingham Dragway next week (Sept. 4-7) for Dragstock XI, the seventy event in the eight-race Professional Drag Racers Assocation national Pro Mod drag racing series.

“There’s no doubt that Pro Modified is the most exciting thing that’s happened to drag racing since the Funny Car,” Earwood said. “I think a lot of the fans can relate to Pro Mods as cars. The Funny Cars have gotten so sophisticated that they all look alike.

“In Pro Mod, though, you have late model Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs racing alongside ’53 Studebakers, a ’41 Willys or two, ’57 Chevies and whole bunch of 1968 and 1969 Chevies and Pontiacs – and all of them are capable of running 200 miles-an-hour in just an eighth of a mile.”

In fact, champions will be crowned at The Rock in three different Pro Mod classes. Pro Extreme features supercharged engines not unlike those in Funny Cars and Top Fuel dragsters; Pro Nitrous features cars with massive 900 cubic inch engines augmented by fuel injection and nitrous oxide; and Pro Boost is for primarily cars using turbocharged engines.

Put those vehicles on a high-traction surface like the one at Rockingham and the results can be record-setting. In fact, 11 of the current 14 PDRA performance records for eighth-mile time and speed were set at Rockingham in last April’s Spring Open. In addition to the official records, which require a representative back-up run for certification, The Rock also yielded the quickest run in eighth mile Pro Mod history when Texas Frankie Taylor stopped the timers in 3.485 seconds in his late model Corvette.

While Taylor, the veteran from Dickinson, Texas, Jason Scruggs of Saltillo, Miss., Bubba Stanton of Potts Camp, Miss., and Eric Dillard of Ball Ground, Ga., are among the dominant racers in Pro Extreme, Pro Nitrous and Pro Boost have a decided Carolina flair, 34-year-old Jason Harris of Pittsboro having already sewn up the Nitrous championship while Todd Tutterow of Yadkinville and Kevin Rivenbark of Wallace battle out the Boost title.

In addition to the featured Pro Modified categories, champions also will be crowned in Extreme Pro Stock, Extreme Pro Stock Motorcycle, Top Dragster, Top Sportsman, MAC-FAB 275/28 Drag Radial, Pro Jr. Dragster and Top Jr. Dragster. The event also will include exhibition runs by a jet-powered dragster.

Racing actually begins Friday with a single pro qualifying session at 6 p.m. following a day of testing by races in all categories. Qualifying continues Saturday with three more pro sessions. Racing begins with Sportsman eliminations at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Tickets are free on-line at www.rockinghamdragway.com or at www.pdra660.com.

“We’ve had the IHRA Series, we were host to the old Winston All-Star events and several other major races,” Earwood said, “but this show is amazing. These cars are about as easy to control as one of the old fuel altered. It’s short wheelbase cars with big power motors.”

Harris, the son of former Piedmont Dragway owner Bob Harris who now serves as one of the promoters of the PDRA Series, has been to the final round of every Pro Nitrous race this season in his 1968 Pontiac Firebird. He’s won five of six finals, losing only to 23-year-old Lizzy Musi, who beat him at Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond.

The aforementioned hot rod Studebaker is driven by veteran Joe Baker of Milton, Fla., who opted for the one-of-a-kind body style to set himself apart from his rivals. However, it wasn’t just a cosmetic move. Baker has been to the finals three times this year. He’ll try to finally break through this week in Pro Boost.
The Professional Drag Racers Association DRAGSTOCK XI, the flagship event of the eight-race tour, returns to the famous Rockingham Dragway on September 5, 6 and 7.

Anticipation of the return of drag racing’s most exciting series is at an all-time high with RV Camping sites filling up daily. If you plan to stay with us in your RV it is highly recommended you reserve your spot today as we expect a full capacity. Call our office at 910 582-3400 to reserve your spot.

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. – Four-time former NHRA Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson and reigning NHRA motorcycle champion Matt Smith were among the touring pros who tested in advance of this week’s 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis on the high-traction course at Rockingham Dragway.

Anderson, the Mooresville, N.C., resident who is battling for a spot in the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship after recovering from off-season surgery, was joined by Pro Stock rivals Dave Connolly of Elyria, Ohio, and Shane Gray of Denver, N.C., currently sixth and seventh in NHRA Pro Stock points, respectively, and by former national speed record holder Vincent Nobile of Dix Hills, N.Y.

Smith, the son of four-time IHRA Pro Stock Champ and reigning NHRA Pro Modified champion Rickie Smith of King, N.C., tested his Buell along with teammate John Hall of Hamden, Conn., to whom he lost in the Pro Stock Motorcycle final at last year’s U.S. Nationals.

The three-day test also involved Pro Modified racers Bob Rahaim of Grosse Pointe, Mich., and Jim Laurita of Morgantown, West Va., along with Super Stock contender Gary Coccaro of Panama City, Fla.
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