From Stage Lights to Staging Lights

Recently, working to keep the Maulin’ Magnum looking clean and sharp had me reminiscing upon the reasons I decided to delve into this ever rewarding car world in the first place. As I probably mentioned before, my relationship with cars has been rooted in my early childhood. My family owned trucking companies and mechanic shops when I was growing up, so I was introduced to cars and automobiles very early on. But I really became a legitimate car crazy gal about 4 years ago, after a few detailing sessions with my now crew chief and Editor, Richard Kratz. Richard had a great setup at his house for detailing cars and, being neighbors, he offered to teach me how to detail my new car. I decided that washing and detailing cars would be a fun thing to do on a Saturday afternoon one weekend. Before this, I had always liked cars, but I didn't have a real human connection with them. Once I realized how much I loved making paint look great and having people stare at your car when you drive by, I knew that cars had to become a bigger part of my life. But that was only the beginning.

I had originally moved to California from the northeast part of the country to go to college for theater. After 2 years of acting and art classes, I realized that the life of a starving actress in Hollywood wasn't exactly for me. I knew what my chances of success were, and I knew I probably didn't want it badly enough to fight those odds.

So when I was invited to go to a test and tune one early Saturday morning, I happily agreed. I needed something drastically different from what I was doing, and I thought I’d give this whole racing thing a chance. I'm not a morning person, so getting up at 4:30 am on a weekend wasn't ideal. But after arriving in the Fontana parking lot and lining up to be let into the track, it was very clear that it was going to be well worth the early rise. Within ten minutes I was starting to feel like I was a part of something amazing, and that really made me excited. It was so thrilling to see hundreds of people in the lanes that all shared this love of cars. Everyone was walking up and down admiring cars and talking about what mods they had, what their low ETs were and how fast they had gone. I didn't know much about drag racing at the time, so it was all Greek to me, but I could tell there was potential for a great opportunity.

After I made my first pass, I was shaking with adrenaline and wanted to hot lap right to the back of the lanes and do it again. After the second pass, the track personnel told us we were going too fast for the amount of safety equipment in the car. I went home completely exhausted but totally inspired. I knew I absolutely needed to do it again. And that's when my life really started to change. I started looking around the city streets on my way to school for nice cars, wondering what they could do in the quarter mile. I wanted to get more involved in mechanics and understand how cars really worked. I researched cars, and wanted to know as much about them as I could. I looked at the world differently. Cars weren't just transportation, they were a lifestyle; and one that I had to be a part of.

But I was still stuck in this theater world at school. Now I'm not bashing theater, I just was becoming more and more certain that the theater life was not what I wanted. And the farther I strayed from the acting world, the closer I got to the automotive industry. I started doing more test and tunes, getting faster and faster ETs in the car, and cutting better lights. By the end of 2010, we had the intention of racing in three different bracket series so I could try this competitive thing on for real in the 2011 season. The real irony of the whole thing is that the more car stuff I did, the more opportunities I was getting in the entertainment world. 

I've been singing since I was 3 years old, and had done a few professional gigs in high school and early college. I began training seriously with an amazing coach when I came to California, but my most recent and steady singing gig is the national anthem at PSCA drag races. I’ve also sung for 40,000 people at Anaheim Stadium (thanks Ron De Hoop!), done photo shoots for individual clients as well as various contests, and was even featured in a trailer for a television show about drag racing. It's amazing how many opportunities have come about because of my involvement with cars. I never would have dreamed of becoming a magazine columnist, a drag racer, or an entrepreneur when I moved out here, but here I am. 

Bottom line: cars have brought me an incredibly unexpected amount of joy in the past few years, not the least of which is a lot of new good friends, and I'm so grateful for that. I went from being stuck in a life I didn’t want to a world of opportunity filled with passion and talent I never knew I had. Life can take you strange places, and I can't wait to see which road I end up on next.