Jessica Poland, 13, of Derby, loves to drive fast.
“We’ve always been involved in some form of racing,” said her father, David Poland.
Poland is a member of the Ellerbe Lions Club. He helped run the lawnmower racing track in Ellerbe and a few years back, he started a kids club. Jessica Poland was the only girl and her lawnmower was the first built for racing.
“My grandpa and daddy were always building and working on lawnmowers and I used to pick at them and say ‘let me drive,’” said Jessica. “They thought I was kidding but I was serious.”
Jessica said she enjoyed lawnmower racing at first.
“About a year or two after we started it got kind of boring,” she said. “I wanted to go faster.”
Jessica and her father became involved in half-scale sprint cup series, which David Poland said is big in Virginia. She is part of the Eastern Mini-cup Association, a non-profit organization.
The car driven by Jessica is a Monte Carlo body and under the hood is a 13-horsepower Honda single-cylinder engine. The track is four-tenths of a mile long and the cars go as fast as 60 mph. The car is equipped with a roll-cage and a harness, and Jessica wears a helmet.
“She’s a tough competitor,” said her father. “She loves to beat the boys. She’s really into it and she’s a smooth driver.”
Jessica said she loves racing because it’s something fun she can do with her family and friends. Before lawnmowers, the Polands were into go-cart racing.
“I think it’s pretty cool. I’m probably one of the only girls in the county that does this. It’s a great experience,” she said.
She started the half-scale racing just last year.
“It was a real learning experience,” she said. “I’m hoping to outgrow it soon.”
Jessica anticipates the day when she will get her adult car.
“I like Chevys,” she said. “I really like trucks. I like the Chevy Colorado.”
The family frequently attends races in North and South Carolina. Jessica said during the weekend the family is traveling to shows and races, and in the evenings they are watching NASCAR races on television. Jessica’s next race will be March 10 at the Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, S.C. After that, she will race on March 25 at Little Rock, the small track at the Rockingham Speedway on Highway U.S. 1, just north of Rockingham.
The Polands said they have plans to attend the NASCAR truck series coming to the Rockingham Speedway on April 15.
“We’re looking towards going,” said Jessica. “We are wanting pit passes.”
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.