WOMEN'S CIRCLE: Melissa Surber
How did you get started in drag racing and how long have you been racing?
I have been racing for 13 years now and started in junior dragsters like most did. I putted around on a little dirt bike for a few years and always watched my dad drag race motorcycles. One day, I decided to be just like him and line up like I was racing someone, pretended I was watching a tree and took off. When I was about seven years old, my parents discovered the junior drag bikes, but I couldn't race until I was eight years old. By the time I was finally old enough to race, they stopped doing the junior drag bikes, so when I was nine, I started out in the dragsters. When I was old enough to race motorcycles, the plan was to make the transition to bikes and eventually race a Pro Stock Motorcycle. Thankfully that's exactly what happened! I wanted to move to a bigger dragster, but my dad pushed the bike on me. After I tried it, I was hooked and never wanted to go back to a car. I started on a Buell Blast when I was 16 and progressively moved up to bigger, faster bikes.
In a predominantly male sport are you treated fairly / equally by your fellow male racers?
In a male dominated sport, I feel as if I'm being treated fairly most definitely! It's so amazing how much of a family we have all become. Many have taken me under their wing, and look out for me like a little sister or niece. The professional racing world is a lot different than the local, being that I’ve built a family nationwide.
What are the top 3 things that you enjoy the most about drag racing?
1. One of my favorite things about drag racing is the fans, and the ability to connect with people you can personally inspire – those who want to learn from you and find out what they need to do to get to where you are.
2. Second, I'd probably have to say that I love the family I’ve acquired with the other racers, teams, and officials. They all make me feel welcome and like I have a place where I belong. Without racing, I really don't know what else I'd do!
3. Third, I ultimately love the thrill of going fast and the challenge that along comes with it – being both mentally and physically challenging! Every pass is a new chance to get better and fix what you may have messed up on the last run.
Recently woman have been dominating the national drag racing circuit. What do you think is the reason for this?
I feel as if more women are joining in on this male-dominated sport because they are starting to realize their strengths and that they can do just about ANYTHING a man can – sometimes even better. Women have definitely more of a fan base than the men nowadays, because we are out there kicking butt and winning races!
Who is your favorite female racer and why?
My favorite female racers would have to be Erica Enders and Katie Sullivan. Erica, because when I was young and racing junior dragsters, dreaming about being very successful, I loved watching the Disney Channel movie, Right On Track, that was based on her life story. Katie, because she is definitely one of the sweetest, most humble bike racers I’ve ever met. We are both California girls and being she was only about 5 hours away from me, she took me under her wing, happy to show me she ropes whenever I had a question.
Is there anyone that you would like to thank for helping you get started into drag racing?
I'd really like to thank my parents, James and Caryn Surber, for getting me started in drag racing and making everything possible! I would also like to thank my grandfather who always believed in me, and always said I was going to be the next Jennifer Snyder. Junior Pippin is another who deserves so much more than a thank you for all he has done with the motor programs for both me and my dad. I really couldn't appreciate him enough. Definitely wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for his help!
Photos by Rick Belden Photography @rickbeldenphotography
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