Annette Summer

Words by Ian Tocher
Photos by Ian Tocher and Jeff Burk

After disagreeing with the National Muscle Car Association's (NMCA's) decision to eliminate mandatory engine-oil containment blankets in her class, Annette Summer, the fan-friendly, but outspoken former Pro Street champ made the jump early in 2002 to IHRA's tough Pro Mod division.

With financial assistance from an unnamed private investor, Summer, along with husband and crew chief Vern Summer, purchased the 1957 Chevy Pro Mod campaigned by Mike Castellana in the 2001 season and debuted her new ride in July at Leicester, NY. She ran a respectable 6.51 her first time out and improved throughout the season to a career-best 6.34 during qualifying for the IHRA season-ender at Rockingham Dragway. It wasn't quite fast enough, though, so Summer has not yet raced on Sunday with IHRA.

Summer sat down with DRO between rounds at The Rock to discuss what finally led her to the pro ranks.

DRO:To start off, how did you become interested and involved in racing?

Summer: When I had a bicycle at five years old, I was racing it. I mean, it was just something that was in my blood. I started racing dirt bikes when I was 10, and I raced my first car at 17. It didn't matter what I had. But even when I was a little kid I always had to earn my own money, I never had it given to me, so I worked in the neighborhood at weird little jobs and saved my money to buy my own motorcycle. My parents would not buy me one.

And just growing up around my cousins and uncles who always raced, I'm sure that affected me, but they raced round track, and that really didn't interest me. What interested me was a long straightaway on the way to church every Sunday. My dad had a Buick Wildcat back then with a 425 in it and he would let me sit in his lap at four years old and steer, and I would push his foot with my foot. We'd get up to maybe 120 on the way to church, and that was the thrill for me, to do that.

DRO: So why did you turn to motorcycles first?

Summer: Evel Knievel. That was the time when he was really big and I was just fascinated with him. I hadn't had the bike maybe a month and I'd already built a ramp out of firewood and a basement door. Evel Knievel would be on TV and I'd listen to every word he said and watched every move he made, and I thought I was Evel Knievel. I just started jumping and learning and then we made some tracks and jumps through the woods.

DRO: Did you ever do any organized racing on motorcycles?

Summer: Oh yeah, my first Camaro, the one that held the record up until two years ago for a back-halfed car, actually was what I towed my dirt bike to the track with. It had a trailer hitch then and I was sponsored by Honda, and off to the races I'd go when I was 17, 18, 19, with my little motorcycle trailer on the back.


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