On The RISE: Sarah Edwards
Tell us a bit about you -- your story, how you are “On The RISE”
My journey begins over a decade ago. I come from a very average family here in Stamford, CT. I am an only child, and when I was 12 years old, I spent my summers home with my mom. While my dad was at work, he heard a radio advertisement for Raceway Park’s Night of Thrills Event. So we packed up on a Wednesday and headed south to Old Bridge Township, NJ. This was my first time at a drag race. I knew absolutely nothing about Drag Racing, my parents did not race, the whole experience was brand new. That Wednesday night, I saw It all! I saw monster trucks, Jet cars, Nitro cars and more. I left Raceway Park’s Night of Thrills event completely captivated. I witnessed Hanna Motorsports Queen of Diamonds blaze down the quarter mile at 300 MPH and then I got the opportunity to meet the face beneath the helmet, and right there I was an even bigger fan. After that, I knew I wanted to go drag racing, I wanted to be the Queen of Diamonds.
Raceway Park’s Night of Thrills became an annual family fun night for the Edwards’ family; sooner than later NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) National Events were also added to the family fun outings. It wasn’t long until I developed the desire to want to drive and being a spectator got old.
After graduating High School in June of 2010 I attended Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School where I earned my NHRA Super Comp license in July. The following year we purchased a dragster that could be run as Super Comp as well as Top Dragster. About a year’s time had gone by since my last licensing pass and my first hit in my own car. I established Queen Bee Racing in 2011. For two years I ran my Queen Bee 565 cubic inch Big Block Chevy dragster in the top dragster races, covering the quarter mile in 7.5 seconds at 180MPH. In 2013 I bumped up one notch to earn my Advanced E.T License, I continued to competed regularly at Atco Dragway (NJ) and continued to grow as a driver. In late October I advanced to the semi-finals and the quarter-finals, running two races at the same time. Driver & Crew – we were finally getting the hang of bracket racing!
As the 2015 season concluded, I received a Facebook message from Al Hanna, the owner of Hanna Motorsports’ Queen of Diamonds. Al was in search of a new driver for his QOD II and my name had been recommended to him. It wasn’t long after the Hanna’s & Edwards’ initial meeting that I was hired as the new Queen. Life had come full circle. Remember that car I saw when I was 12, the first time my parents brought me to the track? That was my new ride. I signed my first professional contract at 24 years old and set out for my Rookie season in 2016. Life had changed drastically. Instead of traveling only to Atco Dragway (NJ) once a month now we were traveling every weekend to a new track, in a new state, however the company remained the same. My parents were at every race, my boyfriend Stephen came when worked allowed, and the number of family & friends that made it out to races was incredible. Looking back now, it’s easier to identify how Queen Bee Racing evolved and transitioned into Sarah Edwards Racing. Each failure, each milestone – I was actually on the RISE. Through the good times and the bad, each moment in time allowed me grow into the next phase of my journey. I drove professionally for three seasons before resigning at the conclusion of the 2018 season. In those three seasons, my career was on the RISE, not just as a driver, but as a businesswoman, entrepreneur and more than ever as a role model. Together as a team, we won 90% of the match races, set track records and I earned a spot on Drag Illustrated’s famous 30 Under 30 list in 2016. Presently, I do my best to continue to inspire kids, to find their fire, find what fuels them and pursue it! Be on the RISE!
Tell us a bit about how you know RISE, how you integrate RISE into your life, what you’d recommend to friends about it!
The word NITRO said it all for us. Our sport, NHRA Drag Racing is built on nitromethane, 330+ MPH cars covering 1,000 feet in less than 4 seconds - therefore the word NITRO had me hooked!
Once we got passed the word NITRO, and actually tried a RISE nitro cold brew coffee we quickly learned that this drink fits our lifestyle. We are out at events from morning till night, sometimes straight into early mornings, and when you’re out at some of these race tracks, in the middle of nowhere, there is nowhere to get a good coffee, and that’s when we know we can count on pulling a RISE out of the cooler! PS! It’s organic! And it’s not always easy to eat clean while on the road, so that’s a bonus!!
Tell us more about what you do in your work?
Driving a race car is what I love to do, but there really is so much more to that. Whether I was driving my family Bracket Dragster, Queen Bee Racing or driving professionally the Queen of Diamonds II 300 MPH Jet Dragster, the most important “job” for me was to connect with our audience. The fans that come out to the racetrack or show up and give us a like on social media all matter to me. So, while we are out at events, it is always important to me to give the fans the attention they deserve, knowing that the opportunity to inspire is always present. I have had the privilege to speak at a variety of schools and events sharing my story & journey drag racing has given me, all while inspiring children to finds what fuels them and to pursue their passion, whatever that may be.
How did you end up doing what you do?
A lot of hard work and a little bit of luck… I am super fortunate to be surrounded by people who believe in me and support my dreams, goals & ambitions. I came to my parents at 12 years old with a dream to be professional drag racer. Both my mom and dad never once doubt that I couldn’t be what I wanted to be. My parents along with my boyfriend have been my backbone in everything that I have encountered on my journey.
Tell us about some of your earlier challenges
One challenge about becoming a professional drag racer, especially out of Connecticut is there are no drag strips in the state! So, while most people aspire to be professional athlete, they typically have the luxury of perfecting their craft at their local sports field or clinic. For me, the closest track that I could practice at was 3 ½ hours south of CT.
Any crazy stories?
Did I mention that I drove a 300 MPH Jet Dragster?! We surround ourselves with people with names like Benny the Bomb – doesn’t that sounds crazy? If not, we travel to a different state every weekend – we can start there? Every trip to a track provided us with some kind of story when we returned home. Whether it be the journey to the track with flight delays, road trip experiences or something that happened at the race / hotel – who knows!
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
Most racers don’t know that I am in the interior design field Monday through Friday and most designers/clients don’t know I can be found at a race track on the weekend, let alone drove a 300 MPH Jet car on the weekends... it’s my little secret.
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs or up-and-coming folks looking to get into your space?
Looking to get into drag racing? You better love it unconditionally, if not it can kill… It can take you out if you not smart or respect it, it can kill your wallet, it can take you from hero to zero so fast, you would think you hit over 350 MPH, it can kill your relationships, intimate or just friendships. But at the end of the day if you have a level head & can balance life, and you’re over the moon passionate about Drag Racing, then by all means, I’ll be the first one cheering you on!
Learn more about Sarah here