Roberta Benedict ’19 will take a quick breather from education field training and campus activities to compete in the nation’s largest, most prestigious bracket drag racing championship, the IHRA’s Summer SuperSeries.
The junior early childhood education and special education major from Williamsfield, Ohio will represent her home track, Thompson Raceway Park, on the weekend of Oct. 20-22 in Memphis, Tennessee.
With one exception, last year’s junior dragster, every champion in the 15-year history of the championship has been male. Benedict is one of only four female point racers at Thompson Raceway and the only woman in the top class.
Star racers will make the pilgrimage from over 100 IHRA tracks as far away as Aruba, Australia and New Zealand. They will vie for Top Class Champion, the recipient of $20,000 in prize money and a two-person, 8-day vacation in Aruba. Of course, bragging rights alone make the competition worthwhile.
Benedict typically races older men, though her youngest competitor is just 23 years old—three years her senior. Last year’s SuperSeries Mod ET national champion, Vic Ellinger, also races at Thompson Raceway.
Bracket racing season runs from May to the last week of August. Designated point races allow drivers to accumulate one point per round won. Benedict, who will compete in the upcoming bracket team finals Sept. 13 in New Alexandria, Pa, won 20 rounds, the most in her bracket of around 10 racers.
This year’s action narrowed down to the final round on Aug. 26. Each round is 1/8 mile blazing down a straight track, two cars at a time.
“I wasn’t sure at the beginning. It’s anybody’s race,” said Benedict. “My toughest competitor was 3 points behind, but he was out in the first round [that day]. I knew then.”
Benedict holds four championship titles, including one team title. In 2013, Benedict tore up the track as a junior dragster competitor at the finals. Now 20 years old, she has been racing a full dragster for three years and racing in general since the age of seven.
“Racing is very competitive,” said Benedict, who has achieved a top elapsed time of 8.45 seconds at 157 mph.
“Racers have perfect reactions. I like the thrill,” she added. “And yes, I have brakes. My car does have parachutes, but I only pulled them once, just to see what they were like.”
She races every weekend in the summer, spending most Saturdays at the track. Her car was custom made by her father and two brothers, who also race.
She recognized the inherent danger of the sport.
“Once I am in the car, I am focused,” said Benedict. “All of the gauges, buttons and dials have to be in place,”
As an LEC ambassador, she is heavily involved on campus, leading the Campus Activities Board and participating in choir, Tomorrow’s Teachers and Student Government Association.
Learn more about the Summit SuperSeries and join us in cheering on Roberta Benedict at the team finals Wednesday, Sept. 13 and the world finals Oct. 20-22.Back To News