Fairmont Anaheim Hills 7th grader Autumn H. has a unique passion and talent for someone her age: drag racing. While that may not be the first sport most parents would think to sign their child up for, in Autumn’s family it’s in their blood.“My family, they’re all drag racers; my dad, my aunts, my grandpa,” Autumn explains. “My dad is the current National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Funny Car world champion. My aunt, Brittany, is the current Top Fuel world champion, and my grandpa is one of the biggest names in the sport.”
With a family history like that, it was only a matter of time before Autumn fell in love with her family’s hot rod cars and wanted to be out on the track herself. Luckily, she has a whole family backing up her decision to race.
“Autumn had an opportunity to see drag racing at a young age,” Autumn’s father, Robert said. “Once she saw the junior dragsters, she wanted to [race].”
Like any sport, practice is required. In order to reach her goal of someday racing professionally, Autumn spends her Thursday nights at the Irwindale race track.
“I’m usually the only junior racer there, so I get the whole track to myself,” Autumn said. “I’m mostly practicing my reaction time.”
Autumn also gets to race competitively with other junior racers several times a year at the Fontana, Irwindale, and Barona race tracks. How often she is able to race depends on her dad’s own race schedule (the only downside to having a family involved in the same sport).
As with any type of car racing, drag racing can be dangerous, but her family is adamant about staying up to date with safety techniques and innovations.
“NHRA does a really good job to keep [racing] safe, and we have all the latest safety advancements in Autumn’s car,” Robert said.
While racing is important to the family, academics take priority.“School is always first,” Robert said. “To be able to race, [Autumn] knows she has to get good grades.”
Autumn agrees with this rule, pointing out how education betters her abilities on the race track.
“Education is important in anything you do,” Autumn shared. “I love math and there’s a lot of math in drag racing.”
With a strong show of family support behind her, drag racing talent in her blood, and determination to live up to her family name, Autumn’s dreams of going pro seem quite realistic.
“I will do anything I can to help her,” Robert said, “as long as she shows me this is what she wants to do more than anything.”
With a family history of racing, Robert stressed that he wants to be sure racing is Autumn’s choice and not something she feels obligated to take part in. So long as it’s her passion, though, he’s enjoying every minute.
“Being out at the race track with Autumn is something that I look forward to, and I don’t take for granted the time I get to spend with her doing something we both love,” Robert shared with parental pride. “She’s already ahead of me at age 13 — I didn’t start racing until I was 35.”
Pumping the brakes a bit while dreaming about her future, Robert added, “I’ll let her go pro after she gets a college degree.”
As Autumn herself said, “Education is important!”