DRO: So that was the same car you made famous as a Pro Street car?

Summer: The exact same car, the '68 Camaro. It was already nine years old when I got it. It was my very first car -- and I still have it.

DRO: What eventually made you decide to race the car instead of the bike?

Summer: Well, I raced it, too, at the same time as I was racing the bike. I had to sneak at first. I wasn't allowed to race. The ink on my driver's license wasn't even dry yet and I was at the dragstrip with my Camaro. By 1986, I had the quickest street car in my town. It ran 11.50s, but I could still drive it to the beach two hours away.

DRO: Did you start out bracket racing?

Summer: Yep, and I hated it, too. All I wanted to do was mash it to the floor. That breaking out stuff, I hated it. So, in 1986 we took a torch to the Camaro. We didn't even finish it until 1990, but I had already envisioned the Pro Street class when we started work on it.

DRO: Were you already with your husband, Vern, at that time?

Summer: Yeah, I met him in 1982. Him and his dad worked at a garage and I worked at an auto parts store and I delivered parts to their shop all the time. But he was Ford and I was Chevy, so we hated each other. We were constantly bickering with each other, but just one day I went to a race with him in '83 and that was it. I think it was actually here at Rockingham and he qualified 10th in the first all-seven-second Pro Stock field, with Lee Shepherd, my hero, and Warren Johnson, Bob Glidden, Darrell Alderman, they were all here. I had been to these kinds of races before with the people I worked with, but being with him when he got into a field like that, well that was just great.

And now the roles have changed. Back when he drove, I was his crew chief and now it's just reversed roles. He was a kamikaze driver. It was going to the other end, no matter what. But guys have egos like that; girls don't. It's the truth.

DRO: You got out of Pro Street racing earlier this year, and now you're trying to break into Pro Mod. What's the biggest difference between the two?

Summer: It's way easier to drive a Pro Mod car than a Pro Street car. I think out of everything I've raced in my life, Pro Street is the hardest to drive, because of the weight. I've raced it anywhere from 2,900 pounds to 3,350 pounds, basically with Pro Mod horsepower. With all that weight, when the car makes a move, it's hard to get it back in shape and settled down, where with the Pro Mod being lighter you can just steer it back in and you don't do the 'rolie-polies' as Bunny Burkett calls it."

DRO: How tough is it coming from a class where you've had great success and going to a class where you haven't been able to qualify yet?

Summer: It used to be I was stressed until I made that first run and got down the track okay, because in Pro Street the spread might've been from a 6.60 to 7.80, so you could be pretty sure of getting in. But here it's different because you're stressed for every run because the fields are so tight and the slightest mistake can mean you don't qualify. I'd only not qualified twice in my life before I came here (to Pro Mod).


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