Bedford’s Annie Wallace makes drag-racing history on her debut

Incredible victory for 22-year-old at Santa Pod Raceway

Annie Wallace [ Picture: Scott Gay / Santa Pod ]
Annie Wallace [ Picture: Scott Gay / Santa Pod ]

Bedford drag racer Annie Wallace created drag racing history on Sunday at Santa Pod Raceway. Making her debut in the Motorsport UK British Drag Racing Championship, the 22-year-old won first time out, a feat not previously achieved.

Pro Modified is the designated championship class. Pro Mods are the quickest, fastest ‘doorslammers’ in drag racing – full-bodied cars with suspensions and functioning doors, powered by a variety of potent engines.

Women have competed equally with men on all drag racing levels for decades – one in seven of this event’s total entry list was female – yet few have ventured into Pro Mod, on either side of the Atlantic. Wallace is only the second British woman to do so.

Annie Wallace launches her Mustang in Sunday’s final round [ Picture courtesy of Julian Hunt ]

Wallace has a racing family. Like sister Bonnie, she raced Junior Dragsters as a youngster. In her teens she took the wheel of brother Bobby’s unruly Sportsman Ford Pop when Bobby stepped up to Pro Mod, then vacated the driving seat to help crew Bobby to two second-placed championship finishes. Meanwhile she tested occasionally in the family’s second Pro Mod car, a Ford Mustang-bodied machine which served as her mount this weekend.

The Mustang brings a sound lately missed from the Pro Mod scene, the rumble of a 14-litre monster V8, naturally-aspirated and boosted with injections of nitrous oxide. These unblown petrol-burning engines are Pro Mod’s original powerplants; supercharged and turbocharged methanol-burners came later.

With 3,000 horsepower under her right foot and three years out of the saddle, Wallace might have been forgiven for a prudent first approach, but she launched straight in with a 6.95-second, 200mph blast which flirted with disaster when her parachutes failed to deploy. A dusty excursion into the field beyond the track’s half-mile shutdown stretch caused no damage to the car and no alarm to its driver.

Thereafter, with parachutes fixed, Wallace completed the mandatory observed runs to secure her Pro Mod licence and entered competition. Six consecutive runs delivered fresh personal-best times and speeds on each run, itself an unprecedented accomplishment. Qualified third, with only the season’s heavy hitters, Kevin Slyfield and Nick Davies, ahead of her, she defeated a faltering Slyfield in the semi-final then soloed to victory when final-round opponent Davies broke a fuel pump. Far from taking it easy, she clocked 6.133sec/229.31mph to seal a remarkable triumph with her quickest, fastest pass of the weekend – indeed, of her entire career to date.

Research suggests that Annie Wallace is the youngest female driver ever to race in Pro Mod, in Europe or in America. Winning on debut is an achievement unique among drivers of either sex. Worryingly for the opposition, brother Bobby Wallace has a new, race-ready nitrous Camaro waiting at home. All the family needs to make a two-pronged attack is to find more crew.