Nitro Jam Countdown #4: Girls Rule
Nitro Jam Media
Dec 16, 2011
Dennis (left) and Smallwood
On a cloudy, rainy weekend in August at a track snuggled cozily between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids in Michigan, the tide was unexpectedly turned on the men of drag racing.
That is because on this weekend, women ruled the day.
Three women from opposite ends of the country came together at U.S. 131 Motorsports for the Northern Nitro Jam and walked away with three thrilling – and very much unexpected – victories.
Cherissa Smallwood, driving the “Nitro and Lace” dragster, kicked off the festivities with a win in Pro Fuel – her first – Saturday night against foe Robin Samsel. On Sunday, Nitro Jam newcomer Kristen Dennis followed suit with her own Pro Fuel win against eventual series champion Mike Manners in the aptly named “Ladies First” machine. Later that afternoon Lisa Bolton added her name to the list with the biggest win of the weekend when she bested series hotshot Cameron Manuel in the Moser Axle-Mania Sportsman Shootout to claim the biggest sportsman payday of the year.
It was a great weekend of racing that saw champions crowned and records broken, but nothing could top the trio of victories by Nitro Jam’s top ladies.
“What can I say, it was a woman’s weekend. I am a bit overwhelmed, but very excited,” Dennis said following the big win. “Weekends like this prove that anything is possible when you set your mind to it.”
And these wins were certainly no gimmies.
In the case of Dennis, the opening round victory that put her in the final came against defending series champion Bill Evans. Evans came into the Nitro Jam season finale with a shot at a second Pro Fuel Dragster championship, but Dennis’ win on Sunday eliminated him from competition and handed Manners the title of 2011 champ. Dennis then defeated the newly crowned king of Pro Fuel in the final to take the win.
Later that evening Super Stock racer Bolton, after having bested a field of the top sportsman racers in the game today, took to the track against the hottest driver in IHRA racing Cameron Manuel. With the sports biggest prize on the line, Bolton drove her 1973 Dart to a big win over the defending Super Rod world champion to become the first female winner of the Moser Axle-Mania event.
The two eventual winners Smallwood (left) and Dennis squared off at Martin
One night prior Smallwood, who had not won a single round of competition entering the Northern Nitro Jam weekend in half a dozen tries, defeated Evans in round one – another move the helped eliminate Evans from competition – before defeating Robin Samsel in Saturday’s final to pick up her first career win.
“You just can’t give up. Whenever you think you have reached your breaking point or things just don’t go your way you just have to keep working at it,” Smallwood said. “We are living proof of that tonight.”
Only time will tell if these first-ladies of drag racing can keep the momentum going and possibly make a championship run in 2012.
*Throughout the month of December we will be counting down the top 10 moments from the 2011 Nitro Jam season. Check back often as we celebrate a memorable season of racing and be sure to visit NitroJam.com and become a fan of Nitro Jam on Facebook today to follow all of the action of the fastest show on earth!*
2011 NITRO JAM COUNTDOWN
#10 Fast Fuel
#9 Bennett Bullet
#8 Monster Debut
#7 Nanook Nation
#6 USA Proud
#5 Spectacular Spills