Nicole Lyons InterviewBy: Simon
Nicole Lyons has been racing cars most of her life and is one of the first African-American woman to race on the National Hotrod Association Circuit. Besides racing cars, Lyons also owns and operates her own muscle car engine and restoration shop. She talked to Kidzworld about her need for speed and breaking new ground in the world of hot rod racing.
Simon: How did you first get into drag racing?
Nicole Lyons: Well, my dad, Jack Davis, was a street racer in the 1960s and '70s, so I've always been around fast cars. When I was four years old, my dad would take me for rides in his car and by the time I was seven, he was teaching me how to drive. I eventually started racing cars and building engines myself.
Simon:What do you like most about racing cars?
Nicole Lyons: I love the competition. I'm a very competitive person and I just love the thrill and the rush of racing cars.
Simon:What are some of the things you do to physically prepare for a big race?
Nicole Lyons: I work out on a daily basis so my body can handle the G-Force of a race. There's so much force on your body that you need to be in great shape. Guys are naturally stronger, so if you want to compete with them, you need to work out.
Simon: Is it hard being one of the only girls that's a drag racer?
Nicole Lyons: I run into the odd problem, but things are getting better. Mostly it's a case of people underestimating me. They expect girls to be interested in Barbie dolls or other girl things - and don't realize that I've always been into racing cars and my family has a long history of racing.
Simon: Have you ever had any major crashes during a race?
Nicole Lyons: No, not yet. Part of being a good driver is knowing how to keep control of the car. A street race is only about 7 seconds - but a lot can go wrong in 7 seconds if you're not careful. You need to focus on your own race, not your competitors. If you feel your car slipping towards the wall, you need to be able to collect yourself and bring your car back on track. One of the biggest challenges of street racing is keeping control of the vehicle.
Simon: What's the most important thing you need to do to win a drag race?
Nicole Lyons: There's so many factors, such as track conditions and your crew. You need to have a good crew - and I do. A crew needs to know how to adjust the engine or the tires to suit track conditions. If there's oil on the track from other races, you need to make adjustments so you don't slip on the track. Your car needs to stay in the groove of the track where other cars have gone and your crew has to know what to do to make sure your car is ready to perform.
Simon: Do you like to drive cars fast all time and have you had any speeding tickets?
Nicole Lyons: Oh, yeah - I've had a few. Sometimes when I'm waiting at a red light, it's hard for me not to rev my engine and just take off at top speed when the light turns green. My husband usually keeps me in check, so I can save my need for speed until race day. I have a track at my house as well, so I get a chance to race there as well.
Simon: Finally, what advice would you give to kids looking to get into car racing?
Nicole Lyons: Believe in yourself. Stay strong and stay focused on what you want to do. Racing is a great adrenaline rush but always stay focused on what you're doing, don't worry about your competitors.