Erica competed in the FFW Drag Radial class with her Mustang, moved to the Pro 5.0 ranks with a tube chassis Thunderbird and is now working on a 2007 Pro Mod Mustang.
You can also find her writing for the Women in Motorsports section of Examiner.com.
Now, onto the interview!
Best E.T. and MPH?
6.69 @ 207mph
What is your name? Where are you located?
Erica Ortiz, Huntsville, AL
What do you do for a living?
Marketing Communications Manager, also work part time at Advance Auto to stay around cars for fun.
How did you get started in drag racing?
My family wasn’t into racing at all… in fact, they could barely change a tire. I always had a love for hotrods, so when I turned 18 I bought my first car: a Mustang GT, and would spend hours reading on the internet and in magazines how to make it faster. I’d go to the track for test n tune nights, and eventually started working at a local speed shop. It was there I learned how to build engines, tune racecars and starting competing in class racing.
You’re working on a ’07 pro mod Mustang. How’s that project going?
Unfortunately, like many racers have faced in the past few years, its been on hold for a bit. The economy makes it very tough to find sponsorship, which I would need to get the car back out there. Its about 90% done right now, just waiting on times to get a bit more stable financially. I’m patient and optimistic that I’ll be getting back out there soon.
What are your goals for your Mustang?
Right now, I’d like to get it back out there and maybe doing a more regional schedule. The class racing and running a full circuit takes a lot of time and money, and is constantly evolving. The Mustang is a great car, but its no 5 second Pro Mod to compete with the cars out there this year. Its also very manageable for me from the maintenance and crew perspective; I don’t need an entire crew to go back racing, just one or two people to give me a little extra hand at the track.
The most important question – When are we going to see you behind the wheel again??
I’ve been open and had discussions about driving for other teams, and am hoping that the right opportunity will work itself out shortly. I really miss being behind the wheel, and know I’d make a great partner for a team seeking a complete package in a driver.
Got a favorite experience to share from a trip to the drag strip?
Probably my favorite event would have been the Fun Ford Weekend Norwalk event in 2006, where I ran my first 6 second, 200 mph pass and runnered-up in Pro 5.0. It was an exciting weekend!
How many races do you attend a year (driving, spectator, pit crew, etc.)?
Not nearly enough. I’ve been to maybe 2-3 a year the past few years. I’d love to be out there full time, if not as a driver, then working with a team in PR/Marketing.
Blood, sweat, tears, money – What keeps you going back to the drag strip as a driver?
I love the sport so much, its hard being away from it. The comraderie, the competition, the people, and the drive it takes to get it all done.
Any advise for those who want to get started in drag racing?
Stay positive and develop patience. It takes tenacity and a lot of drive. You will get 100000 no’s before your first yes. Just resolve to do one thing everyday that will get you closer to your goal.
Who has helped you the most along the way with the car? Any mentors?
I have been blessed with some of the greatest mentors that have done so much more for me than I could possibly repay. Dennis Lugo, who spent countless nights in the engine room with me teaching me how to understand and grasp the basics of engine performance and driving. Dan Parker who helped me to get to the next level in the sport. And Al Moody who is an absolute genius and the most kind hearted and sincere man I’ve ever met who really believed in me and wanted me to succeed.
How can people find you online? Forums, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.?
I’m everywhere, LOL!