Ashley Sanford, 23, is the youngest competitor and one of the few women in the National Hot Rod Association’s Top Fuel class. Nicknamed “Free Bird,” Sanford was inspired to take up the sport by her father and grandfather—former adrenaline-seeking drag racers. Looking down the track, she hopes to contend for the NHRA championships, further popularize the sport, and inspire young racers. Sanford fondly recalls the race last year where she earned her Top Fuel license—“It was my ‘Mama, I made it!’ moment.”
3.77 Time, in seconds, of Sanford’s fastest pass—a pass being 1,000 feet
323 Highest mph she has hit in a race. Top Fuel dragsters have 11,000-horsepower engines
8 Number of dragsters she has owned. The tires are replaced after every race
25k Autographs Sanford estimates she has signed. She signs about 1,000 at every major race.
1 Number of speeding tickets she has received, for driving 100 mph en route to Lake Havasu at every major race.