Lizzy Musi became an Internet sensation in April when online video of her ADRL Top Sportsman car climbing the wall and leaving the racing confines of Bristol Dragway went viral. With now more than a million online “hits” the video represented a major publicity boost for Musi and led to several high-profile TV interviews and major newspaper write-ups, but the 21-year-old daughter of doorslammer legend Pat Musi remained more interested in how soon team owner John Lee could find a replacement for the wrecked ’68 Camaro.
The team wasn’t ready to race at the next ADRL race just two weeks later in Reading, PA, but Musi managed to borrow a car and made just one casual qualifying pass in order to remain eligible for the 250 bonus points available to each driver that enters all 10 scheduled ADRL events this year.
She was ready for this weekend’s ADRL Gateway Drags IV in Madison, IL, though, after Lee picked up a former Dewayne Silance-owned ’68 Camaro just days earlier from Jerry Bickel Race Cars in Moscow Mills, MO.
“Jerry Bickel took such good care of me; he and his guys worked so hard to get this car ready and make me feel comfortable in it. They really did a great job,” Musi said after jumping from 16th to fourth place with a career-best 4.156-seconds pass at 171.08 mph in the fourth and final round of qualifying at Gateway Motorsports Park.
“Comparing the blue car to this car I feel so much more comfortable sitting in this one, I feel more closed in and secure. And it drives really well; I just feel great with this car.”
Bickel shop foreman Mike Meyer was on hand at Gateway, helping Lee, crewman Nathan Powell, and Annette Hall, wife of Pro Nitrous racer John Hall and close friend to the Musi family, get Lizzy ready to race her new ride. Meyer explained that earlier in the week Musi visited the Bickel shop, where they retrofitted the former Silance car to fit her much smaller frame. “We moved the steering column, moved the pedals, the shifter, extended the gas pedal and poured the seat for her on Wednesday, the day before they brought the car here,” Meyer said in the Gateway pits.
“I didn’t have any testing in it at all; the first time I drove the car was my first qualifying pass here,” Musi pointed out. “You can’t just jump in these cars and expect it to go down, not with the amount of power we’re throwing at it. So it did take a few runs for me to get straightened out.”
When eliminations began Musi dialed in at 4.13 seconds and ran 4.140 at 174.46 after posting an impressive .005 reaction time to win over Ricky Adkins. In round two she left with a .004 light, then ran another 4.140 at 166.62 against a 4.12 dial in to beat Rick Corn.
Unfortunately, however, her engine backfired just as she crossed the finish line, which put a premature end to Musi’s weekend. Still, she gained some valuable experience and built tremendous confidence in her team, her new car and her drag racing abilities.
“I heard the boom and saw a flash of fire in the scoop, so that was really disappointing, especially since my crew had worked so hard just to get me out here, but I’m glad we made some good runs,” Musi said. “I really thought we had a shot at winning. Wouldn’t that have been a story?
“But most of all I’m just happy to have a car like this. I can’t thank John Lee and Jerry Bickel and my dad enough for making it happen,” she added. “I know some people were wondering, too, if I could drive a car like this, so it felt really good to make some runs like that and get that behind me.”
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