Words by Ian
Photos by Ian Tocher and Jeff Burk
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.
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
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
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?
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.