Although the current NHRA season has yet to conclude, already Michelle Furr hardly can wait until the 2012 season is launched. And for good reason, since she is looking forward to advancing her career as a standout Super Comp and Super Street competitor.
Furr, 44, of Galax, Va., made a major move in her short NHRA career, which she began in 2010, on Sept. 18 by earning the S/C win and runner-upping in S/ST at the fourth annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals at zMax Dragway near Charlotte, N.C. The six-round victory was her first in the seven NHRA national events in which she has competed in S/C with a 2002 Undercover dragster powered by a 632-inch Chevy from Ohio Crankshaft in Greenville, Ohio. Her loss in the fifth and final round in S/ST was her second national event in the category, which she runs with her 1968 Camaro with a 565-inch Chevy also from Ohio Crankshaft.
Having just missed becoming the first woman in NHRA history to win two categories at the same event, Furr is eager to try to accomplish the feat next season. After beginning bracket racing more than 20 years ago and then entering IHRA competition in 2004, she is turning her attention to NHRA racing in Division 2 and national events. Besides winning more national events, she would like to do well in division points and qualify for the Jeg’s All-Stars event.
“I’m hooked on NHRA racing,” Furr said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Everyone made it out to be more difficult than it actually was. For the first couple of races I had to figure out how they drive as compared to IHRA. There was a learning curve, but I have always been willing to grow and make something better.
“The Charlotte race was surreal. In my wildest dreams I could not have imagined it,” Furr said. “I have known since I was a little girl going with my dad a lot when he raced that I wanted to race. Even when I went to Charlotte in 2010 I remember sitting in the lanes and saying to myself, ‘I’m really here. This is it. It’s like living a dream.’”
Furr found that the victory helped to change her. She has more of “an attitude of gratitude,” as the lyrical but significant phrase goes. She realized it after a dismal weekend in mid-October at the Summit Racing Equipment IHRA World Finals at Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie, Va. Driveshaft failure in qualifying knocked her dragster out of Quick Rod competition for the event, and she lost in round one of Hot Rod action with her Camaro.
“It’s funny how you look at life,” said Furr, whose other national-event win was in Q/R at the 2005 IHRA Motor City Nationals at Milan (Mich.) Dragway. “Before, what happened at Dinwiddie would have devastated me and I would have woke up talking about it every morning, but not after my win in Charlotte. Now I am so grateful for what we have accomplished. Charlotte is what makes all the years of racing worth it. It’s the hugest thing ever for me. I could be satisfied if I had to stop racing.”
All of Furr’s racing achievements have been shared with her husband Rick, who builds the automatic transmissions for the cars, maintains them at the couple’s shop and works on them at the track. Always going racing with the Furrs, who compete constantly between February and November, are their 12-year-old daughter Madilyn and 8-year-old son Adiayn. Both run Junior Dragsters.
Besides having been married 24 years and racing together, the Furrs have worked 23 years for the same company, Landura Management Associates based in Winston-Salem, N.C. The firm manages more than 4,500 units in apartment complexes in nine states. Michelle is in charge of 100-plus units, and Rick handles the maintenance of them.
When the 2012 season begins, Michelle Furr will have high expectations based on her Charlotte victory and the people who support her. “I have more confidence,” she said. “I’m a perfectionist in all parts of my life, so I believe if you don’t do something right, it’s not worth doing at all. And, if someone believes in you, the least you can do is give it all you’ve got.”
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