Darlington- The roar of the big block engines changes as they travel down the 1/8 of a mile track, much like the changing sound of a train. The dragway has begun time trials for a variety of cars and drivers. The driver I am here to watch will run later, as she placed second in the races the evening before. She is running for time today.
Anna Plyler is a rising 9th grader from Pageland. She is in her second season racing junior dragsters. She is taking after her grandfather Mickey Plyler who holds a track record in Pageland, SC. Anna will be going over 80 mph on the dragway. She does not have a driver’s license.
Anna’s father, Michael Plyler, is watchful and right there to lead a hand. Anna maintains her dragster for the most part. The family is a big help. I asked Michael if he was worried about her driving. “No, the car is built for her safety”, pointing to the roll bars, “she has only rolled once and that was when she was first starting, she took an exit turn too sharply.”
Anna is still figuring out what she wants to do with her life but is clear why she races. “My grandfather did this, and want to carry on his legacy.” She has the determined look of a person whose thoughts are focused on what she is about to do.
Anna’s dragster is a half-scale version of the traditional dragster. She will not be able to drive full-sized until she gets her driver’s license. She says when the green light glows signaling the start, she has a rush of adrenaline.
Anna’s dad pushes the car up to the wait line at the tower. There he uses an external starter to fire up her engine. The car only has a couple of quarts of fuel onboard as a safety precaution, so every drop counts.
She pulls to the line and the pre-stage lights glow, and she revs up the engine. Three yellow light countdown and then the green light glows, Anna floors the accelerator and flies down the track. In just over 8 seconds she is done and a 1/8 of a mile away.
In an age of cell phone addiction and teens who seem to be drifting, Anna has picked a line and racing into her future.