Brazoswood Choir Member
Teens steely nerves
earned her respect
Brittany Coldwater is barly old enough for a drivers license, but shes speeding already.
On weekends she sits at a light, waits for it to turn yellow, then punches the gas to speeds of more than 80 mph in an eighth of a mile.
For her, drag racing is the sport of choice.
Coldwater, a 16-year-old Brazoswood High School sophomore, has been racing junior dragsters since 2005, when she was only 13. Junior dragsters run distances of an eighth of a mile in about 8 1/2 seconds.
My dad inspired me to do this, she said.
Coldwaters dad has been racing dragsters since 1972.
Shes accomplished more in three years than I ever did in 30 years, Terry Coldwater said.
At her home sit 15 trophies and four plaques she has won in the short time she has spent in the sport.
She competed and won runner-up at the Race of Champions in San Antonio early this month, where she faced 300 of the best junior dragsters from five states.
It was the most awesome experience going up against all of those people, she said. I love racing and competing. Little kids look up to me.
Her family believes she could have taken first, but because of a defect in the kill switch, the dragster could not start up in time and she wasnt able to run that particular race, Terry Coldwater said. Luckily they pulled the wire causing the problems and she was able to race later that day, coming back and taking runner-up.
I prayed for it to start up and after we went back to the pits, it did, Brittany Coldwater said. I was very pleased with how I did coming back.
Brittany also raced in the local Race of Champions at Angleton Dragway in October and at the Clash of Titans Race in Baytown in July, winning track champion at both, she said.
In drag racing she has to have total concentration and good reaction to win a race, she said.
There is a crowd of people around you, and you have to block them all out and focus, Brittany said.
At a race there are tournament-style eliminations and each race consists of two dragsters pitted against each other. They start off at a starting light, or Christmas tree, as it is called, and take off when the light hits yellow.
You have to know when to punch the gas, Brittany Coldwater said. If you wait until it turns green, you waited too long.
Her best time so far was 8.47 seconds in an eighth of a mile at 83 mph, she said. Junior dragsters are not allowed to go faster than 7.90 seconds in that distance.
I am very proud of her accomplishments, said Vickie Coldwater, her mother. I get a little nervous when she races.
However, there are lots of safety precautions involved in racing, Vickie Coldwater said. Racers are required to wear a helmet, a neck brace, seatbelts, a fire suit and safety shoes.
Brittanys goal is to move up to the professional level, racing professional dragsters, like her idol, pro drag racer Erica Enders, who led the way for women to drive.
Now I think there are more girls than guys in the sport, she said.
Professional dragsters can run quarter-mile tracks in about 4 1/2 seconds at speeds of about 330 mph. She will be able to start racing these when she turns 16 and can get her super gas license.
She already has her fathers old dragster waiting for her when she turns 16.
I was going to sell it, and she told me not to, Terry Coldwater said. She said it would be an honor to drive your car.
Brittanys younger sister, Bethany, 8, also caught the racing bug.
I want to be like my sister, Bethany said. She told me how much fun it is, and I want to do it.