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Sampey Wanted A Chance; Got An NHRA Record

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, May 16 2014

Courtney Force among those women drag racers looking for historic number at Atlanta. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

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All Angelle Sampey wanted was an opportunity. When it was presented in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle class, Sampey jumped at the chance. What followed was one of the most incredible runs in motorsports history, setting a class standard and continuing the excellence of female competitors in the National Hot Rod Association.

Sampey’s 41 career victories – most for a female competitor in the NHRA – have set the stage for the possibility of an historic 100th win by a female during this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga.

It took a steely resolve for Sampey to succeed when she entered the professional ranks, and she sees a similar mindset among today’s female competitors.

“I wanted them to look at me as being as much of a threat as an Antron Brown,” said Sampey, who won three straight championships from 2000-2002. Sampey competed against Brown in the two-wheel category from 1998-2007. “I wanted that threat to be equal,” Sampey said. “I look at all these girls and I’m very proud of them. I’m very happy NHRA gives us an opportunity to do this.”

All eyes at Atlanta Dragway will be on Pro Stock point-leader Erica Enders-Stevens; Alexis DeJoria and Courtney Force in Funny Car; Brittany Force in Top Fuel and Katie Sullivan, Elvira Karlsson and Angie Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle as the landmark 100th win beckons.

Brown (Top Fuel), Johnny Gray (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) were last year’s event winners. ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 6 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday and three hours of final eliminations Sunday starting at 9 p.m.

Sampey made her professional drag racing debut in July 1996, joining Stephanie Reeves and Karen Stoffer at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals in Morrison, Colo., near Denver. But Sampey’s affection for motorcycles and the Pro Stock Motorcycle class had evolved long before. Posters of PSM greats Dave Schultz, Terry Vance and John Myers hung on her wall as a youngster.

“I started racing dirt bikes when I was 6-years-old,” said Sampey, a New Orleans native. “I came out to the Cajun Nationals event in Baton Rouge and was introduced to the NHRA, watching Top Fuel and things like that. My uncle raced in the Sportsman class on a motorcycle in Baton Rouge and that’s how I was introduced to racing a motorcycle on the track. I was 18 when I saw that, and I wanted to know how I could do it for a profession. I fell in love with the sport and with the category.”

When the opportunity to race in Pro Stock Motorcycle was presented, Sampey didn’t disappoint. Joining George Bryce’s Star Racing team, Sampey won her debut race in 1996 before starting her championship run in 2000. She passed the legendary Shirley Muldowney for most victories by a female in 2001, earning seven wins that year _ still a record for most victories by a female during a single season.

Sampey recalled the opportunity Bryce presented, and how she capitalized in ways nobody in the motorsports world could have imagined. “Pretty much everybody in the world besides him laughed at me for wanting to do this,” said Sampey, also the first female to win a Pro Stock Motorcycle world championship. “George said I had all the things he couldn’t teach, and all the things I was doing wrong he could teach. We became a pretty unstoppable force and had a great seven years.”

Sampey is impressed with the current generation of female racers. “I’m a huge Erica Enders fan and I’m so proud of what she’s doing,” Sampey said. “But I don’t look at the girls and say, ‘Oh wow, look at what they’re doing,’ because I expect it from them. I look at them as racers and I think each female that’s out there probably feels the same way.”

Mello Yello Series qualifying begins Friday with sessions at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. (EDT). The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday at 12:30 and 3 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday. Pro Mod qualifying is set for Friday at 3:45 and 6 p.m. and Saturday at 12:45 p.m. Pro Mod eliminations are scheduled for Saturday at 2:45 p.m.

WOMEN ENTERED IN THE NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS

Top Fuel: Brittany Force/Castrol Edge Dragster

Funny Car: Courtney Force/Traxxas Ford Mustang; Alexis DeJoria/Patron XO Cafe Toyota Camry

Pro Stock:  Erica Enders-Stevens/Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro

Pro Stock Motorcycle: Angie Smith/ Kandy Magazine & Stockseth Racing Buell; Katie Sullivan/Tough Girl Designs Suzuki; Elvira Karlsson/Elvira Racing Suzuki

WOMEN IN NHRA DRAG RACING

These women (listed in alphabetical order by category) have competed in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel (18): Vivica Averstedt, Dannielle DePorter, Vicky Fanning, Gina Ferraro, Brittany Force, Rhonda Hartman-Smith, Lori Johns, Kim LaHaie, Lucille Lee, Shirley Muldowney, Shelly Payne (Anderson), Cristen Powell, Leah Pritchett, Sue Ransom, Joanne Reynolds, Rachelle Splatt, Melanie Troxel, Hillary Will.

Funny Car (14): Alexis DeJoria, Vicky Fanning, Courtney Force, Ashley Force Hood, Rodalyn Knox, Paula Martin, Shirley Muldowney, Paula Murphy, Cristen Powell, Leah Pritchett, Susie Spencer, Melanie Troxel, Della Woods, Carol Yenter.

Pro Stock (6): Erica Enders-Stevens, Grace Howell, Judy Lilly, Lucinda McFarlin, Shay Nicols, Shirley Shahan.

Pro Stock Motorcycle (16): Dawn Matthews Baugues, Connie Cohen, Vicki Farr, Lori Francis, Linda Jackson, Anne Hansen, Elvira Karlsson, Peggy Lewellyn, Dawn Minturn, Stephanie Reaves, Angelle Sampey, Angie Smith (McBride), Karen Stoffer, Katie Sullivan, Valerie Thompson, Holly Wallace.

FEMALE LEADERS IN NHRA VICTORIES

1. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle 41 (first at Reading 1996, last at Baytown, Texas, 2007)

2. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel 18 (first at Columbus 1976, last at Phoenix 1989)

3. Erica Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock 8 (first at Chicago 2012, last at Baytown, Texas, 2014)

4. Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle 6 (first at Baytown, Texas, 2004, last at Denver 2011)

5. Melanie Troxel, Top Fuel/Funny Car 5 (first at Pomona 1 2006, TF, last at Bristol 2008, FC)

6. Shelly Payne, Top Fuel 4 (first at Reading 1993, last at Seattle 1996)

Lori Johns, Top Fuel 4 (first at Pomona 1 1990, last at Memphis 1991)

Ashley Force Hood, Funny Car 4 (first at Atlanta 2008, last at Indianapolis 2010)

9. Courtney Force, Funny Car 3 (first at Seattle 2012, last at Epping 2013)

10. Alexis DeJoria, Funny Car 2 (first at Phoenix 2014, last at Las Vegas 1 2014)

11. Lucille Lee, Top Fuel 1 (Atlanta 1982)

Cristen Powell, Top Fuel 1 (Englishtown 1997)

Peggy Llewellyn, Pro Stock Motorcycle 1 (Ennis, Texas, 2007)

Hillary Will, Top Fuel 1 (Topeka, Kan., 2008)

FEMALE NHRA PRO SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONS

Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel : 3 (1977, 1980, 1982)

Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle: 3 (2000, 2001, 2002)

NHRA MELLOW YELLO SERIES VICTORIES BY FEMALE DRIVERS

1. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, June 13, 1976, Columbus, Ohio

2. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, Oct. 10, 1976, Ontario, Calif.

3. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, June 12, 1977, Columbus, Ohio

4. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, July 16, 1977, Englishtown, N.J.

5. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, Aug. 7, 1977, Montreal

6. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, Feb. 3, 1980, Pomona, Calif.

7. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, June 8, 1980, Columbus, Ohio

8. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, Sept. 21, 1980, Seattle

9. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, Oct. 19, 1980, Ontario, Calif.

10. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, March 15, 1981, Gainesville, Fla.

11. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, April 26, 1981, Atlanta

12. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, March 14, 1982, Gainesville, Fla.

13. Lucille Lee, Top Fuel, April 25, 1982, Atlanta

14. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, June 13, 1982, Columbus, Ohio

15. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, Aug. 22, 1982, Brainerd, Minn.

16. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, Sept. 6, 1982, Indianapolis

17. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, Feb. 13, 1983, Pomona, Calif.

18. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, Oct. 16, 1983, Irvine, Calif.

19. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, Oct. 15, 1989, Phoenix

20. Lori Johns, Top Fuel, Feb. 4, 1990, Pomona, Calif.

21. Lori Johns, Top Fuel, April 22, 1990, Atlanta

22. Lori Johns, Top Fuel, May 6, 1990, Memphis

23. Lori Johns, Top Fuel, May 5, 1991, Memphis

24. Shelly Anderson, Top Fuel, Sept. 19, 1993, Reading, Pa.

25. Shelly Anderson, Top Fuel, Feb. 6, 1994, Pomona, Calif.

26. Shelly Anderson, Top Fuel, May 5, 1996, Richmond, Va.

27. Shelly Anderson, Top Fuel, Aug. 4, 1996, Seattle

28. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 15, 1996, Reading, Pa.

29. Cristen Powell, Top Fuel, May 18, 1997, Englishtown, N.J.

30. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 28, 1997, Topeka, Kan.

31. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 17, 1998, Englishtown, N.J.

32. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 20, 1998, Reading, Pa.

33. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 11, 1998, Memphis

34. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, March 21, 1999, Gainesville, Fla.

35. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 16, 1999, Atlanta

36. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 25, 1999, Englishtown, N.J.

37. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 27, 1999, St. Louis

38. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 10, 1999, Memphis

39. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 9, 2000, Las Vegas

40. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 7, 2000, Atlanta

41. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 18, 2000, Columbus, Ohio

42. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, July 16, 2000, Denver

43. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 9, 2000, Englishtown, N.J.

44. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, March 25, 2001, Baytown, Texas

45. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 17, 2001, Columbus, Ohio

46. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, July 8, 2001, Pomona, Calif.

47. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, July 22, 2001, Denver

48. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 3, 2001, Indianapolis

49. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 7, 2001, Reading, Pa.

50. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Nov. 11, 2001, Pomona, Calif.

51. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 5, 2002, Atlanta

52. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 2, 2002, Chicago

53. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 30, 2002, St. Louis

54. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 2, 2002, Indianapolis

55. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 16, 2002, Reading, Pa.

56. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 27, 2002, Las Vegas

57. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, March 16, 2003, Gainesville, Fla.

58. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 13, 2003, Baytown, Texas

59. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 1, 2003, Chicago

60. Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 18, 2004, Baytown, Texas

61. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 16, 2004, Atlanta

62. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Aug. 1, 2004, Sonoma, Calif.

63. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 10, 2004, Reading, Pa.

64. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Nov. 14, 2004, Pomona, Calif.

65. Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 10, 2005, Baytown, Texas

66. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 26, 2005, St. Louis

67. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 18, 2005, Reading, Pa.

68. Melanie Troxel, Top Fuel, Feb. 12, 2006, Pomona, Calif.

69. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, March 19, 2006, Gainesville, Fla.

70. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 2, 2006, Baytown, Texas

71. Melanie Troxel, Top Fuel, April 9, 2006, Las Vegas

72. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 21, 2006, Columbus, Ohio

73. Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 1, 2006, Richmond, Va.

74. Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, March 18, 2007, Gainesville, Fla.

75. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 1, 2007, Baytown, Texas

76. Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 29, 2007, Atlanta

77. Melanie Troxel, Top Fuel, May 6, 2007, St. Louis

78. Melanie Troxel, Top Fuel, Sept. 16, 2007, Memphis

79. Peggy Llewellyn, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 23, 2007, Ennis, Texas

80. Ashley Force Hood, Funny Car, April 27, 2008, Atlanta

81. Melanie Troxel, Funny Car, May 18, 2008, Bristol, Tenn.

82. Hillary Will, Top Fuel, June 1, 2008, Topeka, Kan.

83. Ashley Force Hood, Funny Car, March 29, 2009, Baytown, Texas

84. Ashley Force Hood, Funny Car, Sept. 7, 2009, Indianapolis

85. Ashley Force Hood, Funny Car, Sept. 6, 2010, Indianapolis

86. Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, July 24, 2011, Denver

87. Erica Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, July 1, 2012, Chicago

88. Erica Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, Aug. 5, 2012, Seattle

89. Courtney Force, Funny Car, Aug. 5, 2012, Seattle

90. Erica Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, Aug. 19, 2012, Brainerd, Minn.

91. Erica Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, Sept. 30, 2012, St. Louis

92. Courtney Force, Funny Car, Feb. 17, 2013, Pomona, Calif.

93. Erica Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, Feb. 24, 2013, Phoenix

94. Courtney Force, Funny Car, June 23, 2013, Epping, N.H.

95. Erica Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, Sept. 29, 2013, St. Louis

96. Alexis DeJoria, Funny Car, Feb. 23, 2014, Phoenix

97. Alexis DeJoria, Funny Car, March 30, 2014, Las Vegas

98. Erica Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, March 30, 2014, Las Vegas

99. Erica Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, April 27, 2014 Baytown, Texas

100. TBD

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, May 16 2014
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