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Galax driver wins a Wally

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Michelle Furr won one title and was just the second woman to reach the finals in two classes.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. –– If you met Galax’s Michelle Furr on the street, ‘drag racer’ probably wouldn’t be the first description to come to mind. However, after the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, no one would dare doubt Furr’s drag racing qualifications.

In only her seventh NHRA national event appearance and her first in her Super Street Camaro, Furr made history by being just the second female to go to the finals in two classes at the same event. Furr was runner up in Super Street and took home the Wally – the iconic NHRA trophy of walnut and brass named for founder Wally Parks – in Super Comp to take her place in NHRA history. 

Although Furr is no stranger to the winner’s circle, she had hit a dry spell the last two seasons and was battling the normal frustrations of racers who hit a lull. Her frustrations began to ease when she found herself in the winner’s circle for a runner-up finish in Top Dragster at an IHRA Pro Am just a few weeks before the NHRA National in Concord. Still, Furr wasn’t satisfied. 

Things were far from perfect for Furr and family (husband Rick, children Madilyn and Adiayn), as Michelle nearly wrecked during a Saturday morning run at zMax. The run was enough to shake up all who watched it and Rick was ready to throw in the towel for the weekend. But determination and persistence paid off for the family who had no idea what was waiting for them the next day. 

As with any race win, Furr welcomed the luck that came her way with a few red-lighting opponents helping her advance through the rounds. She backed up her luck with .00 lights and enviable top-end driving.

Furr met with Dennis Hill in the finals of Super Street. Hill had the advantage off the line and pushed Furr to a breakout on the top end. Michelle settled for a runner-up finish, but her day wasn’t done yet. 

Again in Super Comp, Furr used consistent driving to advance through the rounds. She rose to the occasion round after round, taking out some of the toughest competition Super Comp has to offer.

Furr found herself in the finals one more time, and this time she was not to be outdone. Furr and proficient opponent Shane Carr had identical lights in the final round (.015), but Furr did the better driving job on the big end, edging Carr out with her dead-on 8.904 to Carr’s 8.919. In that moment, a dream came true for the Furr family. The humble racer was simply wowed by her incredible weekend. 

“This is huge for us,” said Furr. “It’s hard to even find the words. Our feet still haven’t hit the ground. We are living the dream. I may have been the one behind the wheel, but I can’t take all the credit. Rick is my husband, best friend and crew chief, and he works hard to keep us going every weekend at the track. He believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself. This win is as much his as mine. The same goes for my two children. They’re my encouragement and biggest fans. Win or lose, my daughter Madi always tells me I’m still a winner in her eyes, and Adiayn is there with a hug every round. Both kids race juniors and we all pull together as a team to support each other. I have the best family in the world. God and family are first in our lives and this was a huge win.

“Lately things just hadn’t been falling our way. It seemed that if I had a .002 package, my opponent would have a .001. Things were getting frustrating. Rick has also been in two street accidents this year, so we hadn’t raced as much and times have been tough. But something was different about this weekend. There was a calm about this whole weekend, even through the close call during my Super Street run. Then during the finals of Super Comp, they nearly shut me off because my overflow was leaking before pulling onto the track. Thankfully, they waited for us to get that drained. But even through that frantic moment there was a calm.”

The steady nerves paid off to make the dream come true for the Furr family, who have learned to celebrate every round and take the good with the bad. 

“We were just excited to get past first round,” Furr added. “We are so thankful for each victory and all the support of our friends and sponsors. This weekend wouldn’t have been a success without the help of many, many people: Stan, Mary and Scott Ray at Ohio Crank. They’re a wonderful racing family. Shannon Waycaster and family are like family to us. Also, I want to thank Top Sportsman racer Mike White of White Race Cars. Back in ‘05, David Hagan [father of Funny Car driver, Matt Hagan] took a chance on me. He made it possible for our family to achieve this level of racing. It was neat to see things come full circle when Matt and I and both won at zMax. I also can’t forget my mom and dad, Ron and Amelda Privett, who jump-started my love of racing at a very young age, and my brother John who always supports us. They were all cheering us on, watching from home on the Internet. So many friends helped us get to the winner’s circle, I can’t name them all, but you know who you are. 

“I also have to thank all of our sponsors. Ohio Crank built the engines in both cars and they have been awesome for us. Our Quick Fuel carburetors have been deadly consistent. Also, the gang at Huggins Tire, Moser, Jegs, Turbostart, RCi, K&N, Smith Bros Pushrods, Moroso, Hawk Performance, PTC, Autometer, Melling, MSD, Digital Delay, The Fab Shop, Fender’s Body Shop and all of our associate and contingency sponsors have been so good to us. Their help is vital to our program and we can’t thank them enough.

“After 24 years of marriage and a lifetime of racing, this weekend has been a memory worth waiting for, for our family. It’s a dream come true for all of us and we’ll be walking on clouds for a while.”