Marina Anderson says she likes to go fast. It’s something she’s been drawn to ever since she was a little girl and would go to the race track with her dad. She always itched to get behind the wheel of one of the cars on the track. Now, the 19-year old student at Elmhurst College is creeping closer to her goal of racing as she builds a 5 second, 280 mph top alcohol dragster piece by piece.
Anderson, a native of Villa Park and graduate of Willowbrook High School, developed her interest in racing with her father, Scott Anderson. He used to race when he was younger and still works as a crew chief, she said.
“He would bring me to the race track when I was little,” she said. “I loved it.”
Anderson’s first set of wheels was a go cart her father bought when she was little. After that, she added a dirt bike. As a little girl, she would go to Just Fun, the go cart track along Route 83. She said they would tell the workers she was 10-years old, even when she was only 8, so she could drive her own car.
In 2010, she went to Fred Collis’ Drag School in Indianapolis where she got her NHRA SuperComp Dragster license.
Once her car is complete and ready to race, she’ll compete in the quarter mile drag race in a car that can cross the distance in five seconds and accelerate to 280 miles per hour.
In driving school, she practiced with an eight-second car, but hasn’t yet had the opportunity to drive anything faster, she said. She’s eager to see her own race car complete, but mostly she’s just ready to drive.
“I’m anxious to drive anything right now,” she said. “I’d really like to get into a car this summer.”
Anderson’s own race car, she expects, will take another year or two to complete. She’d like to have it drivable by the end of 2012, but doesn’t think it’s realistic. The two major determining factors are having the time to devote to the project and the money to spend on the available parts. Right now, much of the frame is done, and she’s reaching the point in the project where some of the more expensive components of the car, like the motor and the drive line, will need to be purchased and installed.
School comes first for Anderson, she said, so completing the car might need to wait until she’s graduated from Elmhurst College.
The car is being built at Competition Fabrications in Maple Park, owned by Dave Daunheimer. He’s the owner and driver of the car Anderson’s father works on, and has helped guide her through the process of building her own car.
“He’s my mentor,” she said. “He tells me what to do. I’ve learned a lot.”
Building a car is understandably expensive and time consuming, so why did Anderson opt to start her racing career this way rather than stepping into an existing car?
The suggestion was her dad’s she said, but she’s happy to have gone along with it.
“It’s fun and sets me apart from other drivers,” she said. “I’ve always liked mechanics.”
At Willowbrook High School, she was involved in the auto program and went to Springfield to compete. At Elmhurst College, she works in the vehicle maintenance department.
The ultimate goal, she said, would be to make racing her career, although she isn’t sure yet if that’s realistic. Nevertheless, she’d at least like to devote a few seasons to racing once her car’s complete.
It’s a project that consumes most of her free time at nights and on the weekend, and has absorbed much of the money she saves from work, but does she consider it all worth it?
“It’s worth it right now,” she said. “Knowing every little piece going into (the car) and having an appreciation for everything in it (and) getting to work on it with my dad and Dave."