By Al Heisley
The idea for this article came to me while sitting in the Mr. Explosive pits at the 2014 California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield, California. On Saturday between qualifying sessions, Jake Sanders, crew chief for his Dad’s team, was handling the cars turnaround. Tearing the engine down, checking the drivetrain, servicing the blower, everything every crew chief would be doing at the time.
It finally dawned on me that Jaclyn, a.k.a. “Shorty”, Jake’s 15-year-old sister, was working right alongside of her brother pulling and cleaning the push rods and lifters and helping him in any way she could with the blower. I wondered if I was watching another Allison Lee or Kim LaHaie in the making.
Laughing along with Jake, singing to the tunes on the radio with her long lost brothers Nick Dawson, and Mike Minick, Shorty hung right in there working on the funny car, prepping it for the next round.
Talking with Shorty’s dad, Mark, he told me that he offered to build her a Jr. Dragster if she wanted to start driving. But that she turned him down flat preferring to work on the “big car!” And traveling with her brother all summer, crisscrossing the US from track to track.
Today, at 16, Shorty is gearing up for her annual “Funny Car Summer” with her brother on the road. Starting out by skipping the last day of school so she could arrive at Budds Creek, Maryland in time to twist wrenches, and keep the boys in line for the third stop on the IHRA tour. Ending the race weekend earlier than they had hoped to because Big Daddy, Mark Sanders, who had qualified third with a 5.68, decided to go RED in the semifinals. So, they serviced the car for the next race and Jaclyn and Jake took off down the road to their next stop, Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, OH. to let loose for a day and have some fun!
“Next, we were off to Henry Ford’s Museum with the family”, she says. Then we headed to the fourth stop on the IHRA tour in Grand Bend, Ontario, Canada for a three-day event.
And there’s more; Shorty’s 2016 blue barrel summer tour continued as she and her brother set off on their journey across the U.S. back to the great Northwest for four consecutive weekends of racing.
What will be next on the list after racing near her Seattle home, Shorty can only guess. But one thing is for sure; it’ll be another chapter in her own “funny car summer!!”