Amanda Shepherd - Top Fuel Run

Its now day 12 and im STILL wearing my orange drivers band that I got for my first drive in Top Fuel. Who would of thought that at age 18 I would be privileged enough to experience the rage and power of a Top Fuel Dragster. If It wasn’t for my Dad and my family, then it would have never happened.  was talk that my test day wouldn’t be on the 14th of October, that it had been moved to that My Uncle Mark started getting a bit teary after I did my first burnout and launch (I thought Top Fuel Drivers were tough and never shed any tears)

It was awesome that Western Sydney International Dragway allowed me to do my testing on the 14th, because the next available date wasn’t until the 11th of November and my brother has recently taken off jet setting to America. I had the option of either doing it without Mat on the 11th of November, or rushing and pushing it for the 14th. You know what one I chose. Now I look back on it, I know that there is no way that I couldn’t have completed my launch without my Brother. He knows exactly what to say and when to say it to calm you down. However, when I pulled to the line after doing my burnout and I saw Mat put his foot in the staging beam to line me up, I thought my days of testing in Top Fuel were over… FOR GOOD!

The heat of the day did put me off a little bit. I was suited up AND strapped in the car and I had to wait for about 10 minutes in the staging lanes to do my launch but it felt like forever. I had everything on from a balaclavar to clothes on underneath my fire suit and I was boiling. Although when that engine fires, you don’t notice anything accept for the ¼ mile.

I must say that I had the most fun doing the burnout. When you step on the throttle to do the burnout, you can actually feel the wheels lift and it makes you feel as though you have been lifted 6 feet in the air. Then you have to try and steer the thing. Its as if your driving on ice. I focused on something in the middle of the track down the bottom end and tried to steer and keep in line with my chosen object, so when I was getting guided back, I was in the middle of the groove.

The launch in a Top Fuel Dragster is unlike anything else and it amazed me how everything happens automatically. Weeks before you stress that when the amber flashes you wont have enough time to take your hand off the brake, put it on the steering wheel and smash the throttle, but honestly, you don’t even know your doing it all. Its just instant

My first launch just totally amazed me. You step on the throttle and the engine screams at you from behind. It was nothing like I had expected. I thought I couldn’t get any more pumped after a launch, until I did my second one and went to about 200 feet. The launch was exactly like the first, but then suddenly it just kicks in and goes from a Top Fuel Dragster to a missile in 2.1 seconds. The launch is extremely powerful, but next bit makes you feel as though your on a roller coaster. You know that feeling when you go down the massive hill and loose your stomach and feel very light, that’s the feeling that I got when the run kicked in. I have never experienced anything like it in my life and I cant compare it to anything to try and explain it, because I don’t believe that is anything on this earth that can pump adrenalin through your body like a ride in a Top Fuel Dragster can.

When I think back on it now, I still cannot believe that I have done it. I saw a picture of me during my launch in a magazine the other day, and I couldn’t believe that It was actually me driving.

Im so thankful to everybody at the Western Sydney International Dragway. They got as excited as I did. I cannot thank all my supporters, family and pit crew enough. All of your encouragement goes along way and I really appreciate it. The Pit Crew worked hard in that  40 degree heat for me and I know they all had somewhere else to be, but I want to say a deep thank you to them all, because without them, it wouldn’t have been possible.

The experience was utterly amazing, but my journey has just begun!


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