Drag Racing, Feature Article, Washington — March 22, 2005 at 4:47 pm

Sean Kennedy (issue 63)


By Steve Heeb

Before tackling the quarter-mile dragstrip at Pacific Raceways, Sean Kennedy tackles the S-Curves on I-405.

The 19-year-old Bellevue, Wash., resident has been driving his ’72 Nova to and from the track since he got it in 2002. Last year he put the daily driver atop the field to claim the Sportsman title at Pacific Raceways.

Kennedy and his car have even made the trek to the e.t. finals events in Yakima, as well as across the border to Ashcroft and Mission.

Kennedy got his first taste of racing as a nine-year-old living in Texas, but was fielding Short Run in the Junior Dragster ranks at Pacific Raceways the following season.

Just after buying the Nova, Kennedy captured Pacific Raceway’s high school bracket.

For the upcoming season, the reigning Sportsman champ says he hopes to do even better.

“The season was a bit short because of the rainouts,” he says of the points chase in 2004. “It was so close throughout the season. I had to keep my head fairly cool.”

Kennedy recalls the pressure of four drivers having a decent shot at the title going into the final race.

“I had to race Carl Mandelin in the first round and then Brian Gittings in the semi finals,” explains of the National Dragster Challenge. “It just happened to be a very close race. But I got the Wally for it.”

Kennedy counts Gittings among his friendly rivalries at the track.

“I like to race Brian,” Kennedy says. “We raced three times last year.”

“Jody Lang has kicked my butt,” he continues. “I’d like to beat him.”

Actually, Kennedy says Jody and brother Toby Lang top the list of bracket drivers that have been his racing inspirations, along with Mark Faul and New York sportsman driver Peter Biondo.

“And Don Garlits,” Kennedy says, throwing the legendary Big Daddy into the mix. “That guy was something.”

Kennedy likes to keep up with how other competitors are driving.

“You need to know what you are up against,” he explains. “It can’t hurt to know their game. Like playing the odds.”

And when he’s not observing the competition race at the track, he confesses to watching all kinds of racing on television.

“I watch the Speed Channel all the time,” he admits. “All the time.”

He also does his share of racing on the computer.

“I do other things like camping,” Kennedy says. “And just being young.”

For 2005, the youngster has added a new set of slicks to his Nova and says he is in the market for getting another vehicle for his daily driving. But don’t look for the Nova to get earmarked for racing duties only.

“I am having too much fun with it,” he laughs. “I like to go fast.”

His advice for students who are considering taking a try at drag racing: “Just get in the car and come out and race.”

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