Speed queen and Seven-time land speed record holder Valerie Thompson plans to return to NHRA drag racing next year with a Star Racing built Pro Stock Motorcycle as an independent team owner and driver. We got the opportunity to ask one of the fastest people on the planet some questions about racing.
1. What can be the biggest challenge transitioning from land speed to drag racing or vice versa?
Great question, do you really have enough time for my response (laugh). My roots are in drag racing, so it’s part of my DNA. Unlike other motorsports, there are only two excuses for losing a drag race. Either you were late on the light or your competitor had a better performing vehicle.
Land speed racing is “whole ‘nother story” as they say. When you line up for a record-breaking run at the Salt Flats or the dry lakebeds, it’s you against the elements. If the salt is mushy or the lakebed is too dusty, that’s my biggest competitor. There is no one in the other lane to worry about — my job is to focus going all out on the racing surface the weather has provided.
Drag racing is limited to a quarter mile, setting land speed racing records can vary from a one-mile course to more than 5-miles at full throttle. Land speed racing allows a driver to keep going till you or the equipment fails. I won’t retire until I set as many land speed records as possible, whether it’s on two wheels or four.
2. What inspired you to return to drag racing?
I am an independent owner/driver, so my career is dictated by fulfilling the needs of sponsors who fund my speed dreams. Mother Nature has not been our friend this year when it comes to land speed racing. Whether it was bad weather or poor salt conditions, 5 of my 11 planned events were canceled or shortened in 2015.I pride myself on exceeding expectations for every sponsor. The NHRA does not cancel events due to weather, so I know my sponsors can count on the new Fox Sports TV coverage for every event I compete in.
I will also continue racing my record holding BMW S 1000 RR at select 2016 land speed racing events to provide sponsors the widest variety of promotional options. Without the wonderful support of BMW Motorrad, I would never have reached this point in my career and hope to one-day campaign a BMW in a quarter-mile drag racing championship.
3. It seems being successful in racing takes more than just a talented rider like yourself, how much do your team/sponsors play a part in your overall success?
Owning an independent racing team is similar to being the CEO of a major corporation. Your first goal is to maximize shareholders wealth. In my case, sponsors are the shareholders, so the top priority is maximizing sales for their brand. Whether it’s Formula One or dirt track racing, without loyal sponsors you’ll never be a contender. I spend more time promoting sponsors than I do on racing.
4. Do you have any advice for young fans looking to get into racing?
Of course! Be prepared to work to make and a commitment and work your butt off. Set your goals, determine the costs and then find friends and associates who will help you accomplish your mission. You can’t do it alone so be brave; ask for advice, study those you want to emulate. Buy the best equipment and always keep your team’s safety top-of-mind. Most importantly, never listen to the naysayers. It’s your dream so have the courage to chase it with everything you have.
5. Is there any type of racing that you haven’t done that could be on the horizon?
Definitely. If high speed is involved, I’m there. I would love to set a lot more land speed records on both two wheels and four. One of my long-term goals is becoming a member of SCTA’s 300 MPH Club at Bonneville. A few other “bucket list drives” include racing at Pikes Peak, piloting an NHRA Top Dragster Car and … well, you name it … I’m ready to go.
CHECK HER OUT!