The will and adrenaline of Dystany Spurlock

This local woman is on the cusp of taking the racing world by storm.

Dystany Spurlock set a motorcycle drag racing record by traveling a quarter mile in 8.61 seconds, reaching 163 mph. She was 18.

The former Highland Springs High School student began racing at age 17 after her mother purchased Spurlock’s first motorcycle. It wasn’t the first time Spurlock took part in a typically male-dominated activity: she was the only female on her high school football team.

“I’ve always been interested in those things that aren’t normal for a female to do,” said Spurlock, who’s now 21.

NASCAR first piqued her attention when she was young. “Ever since I was little my grandfather would watch it,” she said. She attended her first race when she was 14. But Spurlock didn’t want to merely watch other racers experience adrenaline rushes, she wanted some of her own.

“When I put my mind to something, that’s what I’m going to do,” she said. She soon put her mind to drag racing, first on the streets and then on a track.

She broke the quarter-mile records in 2010 on a BMW S1000RR. A year later, she beat that time, and reached the semi-finals in the Manufactures Cup. In 2012, she finished among the top eight in the 5.60 class before she was even legally allowed to drink. Her success led BMW to enlisting her as a Motorrad ambassador.

Her interests expanded to Arena Racing after an impromptu phone call from her agent asking if she wanted to participate. She agreed before even watching a race. When she finally attended an Arena Racing event at the Richmond Coliseum, it wasn’t what she had expected. “I said, What in the world?”

Arena Racing was created by Ricky Dennis1 in 1993 with the help of a $28,000 wooden track. In 2005, Dennis secured investors, including former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs. In 2011, Arena Racing returned to the Richmond Coliseum with a $500,000 steel and aluminum track.

Racers drive half-scale stock cars on a high-banked track about the size of a hockey rink. Drivers often approach 50 mph and complete one lap in in eight seconds. Essentially, it’s a life-sized Hot Wheels toy racing track.

Here are 2013 highlights:2

“It’s completely different than anything on this earth,” Spurlock said. “How are you going to pass a car when you’re not farther than 12 inches from other cars?” But instead of dismissing the uncanny logistics of Arena Racing, Spurlock embraced them. Just as she put her mind to drag racing, Spurlock committed herself to becoming a superior Arena racer. “I looked at it as a challenge.”

She’s off to a good start. Last year, she earned the Rookie of the Year title and finished in the top six while driving her now trademark hot pink car with leopard print accents. Spurlock and her car will race again this Saturday at the Coliseum at 7:00 PM when Arena Racing debuts its new season.

Spurlock now eyes tracks beyond what she races in the Coliseum–she wants to be a professional NASCAR driver. But sponsorship money is “the only thing setting me back” from achieving it, money she’ll need to purchase and maintain a car and crew.3

When asked what she’ll do if she finds a sponsor one day, Spurlock says: when, not if. “I’m going to be in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series of NASCAR with intentions of owning my own team,” she said. It’s hard to doubt her. She’s put her mind to it.

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  1. Son of former NASCAR driver Bill Dennis. 
  2. Dystany appears at the 0:17 mark 
  3. Spurlock said it costs $250,000 to fund a car in a single small series season (March – November). “NASCAR is not a cheap sport,” she said. 
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Nathan Cushing

Nathan Cushing is a writer, journalist, and RVANews Editor.

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