Racing legend Pat Musi says daughter Lizzy ‘the real deal’

23-year-old among favorites in PDRA Dragstock XI at Rockingham Dragway

Submitted photo

Submitted photo

ROCKINGHAM — Frank Brandao’s highly-modified 2009 Dodge Stratus, a vehicle known to rivals as “King Kong 5,” is not a race car for the faint of heart. Powered by a 903 cubic inch engine equipped with electronic fuel injection and a four stage nitrous oxide system that helps deliver a whopping 3,000 horsepower, it can accelerate from zero to 200 miles per hour in 3.7 seconds.

Those are the numbers expected from the black Dodge when it competes this week in Dragstock XI at Steve Earwood’s Rockingham Dragway.  It’s not the kind of performance typical of your garden variety hot rods or even of exotics like Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis, for that matter.

Nevertheless, it’s the norm in the Professional Drag Racing Association series that returns to The Rock this weekend for an encore presentation.

What isn’t normal is the fact that one of the most powerful Pro Nitrous race cars on the planet is driven by a petite, 120-pound brunette who also enjoys yoga and fashion design.

At 23, Lizzy Musi is anything but one-dimensional.  In addition to racing in the world’s premier eighth-mile series, the native of Carteret, N.J. also has a liking for motocross and surfing and her musical tastes run from country to hip-hop and classic rock.

The daughter of Pat Musi, one of the most decorated racers and engine builders in history, Lizzy is one of the rising stars in one of drag racing’s most popular classes.

In fact, in just her fifth professional race, she earned a breakthrough victory earlier this year at Dinwiddie, Va., where she became the only driver this year to beat series champ Jason Harris.

Like Harris, Musi got her start in the Jr. Dragster division in which she raced from 1999 through 2007.

In 2012, her dad put her in a Top Sportsman car but, after some initial success, things took a negative turn when she crashed heavily during a race in Bristol, Tenn.

“I could feel the car hopping on its side and all I see is the wall,” she recalled.  “At that moment, I’m like, ‘OK . . . What’s going to happen now? I’d really better hold on.’ I had no idea.  All of a sudden the car lifted up and I’m looking down, literally, at the wall. It was like I was on a ride or something, like one of those at an amusement park.”

Miraculously, Musi emerged unscathed, though, and the incident is now just ancient history for the second generation racer whose dad provides not only the engine in her hot rod but the knowledge born of a career of success in Pro Stock, Pro Modified and virtually every outlaw street category imaginable.

“Still, to this day, I’m learning, every step of the way,” Lizzy said. “There’s so much to experience in these cars.”

What the Mooresville resident is experiencing right now, though, is the kind of success her father expected from the start.

“I’m so proud of her,” he gushed.  “She grew up around this stuff and has just soaked it up.  She’s a natural.  I try to help her all I can.  We talk racing all day at the shop and then all night at home.”

Those conversations have paid big dividends this year.  Coming in, she is the only Pro Nitrous driver other than Harris to have won a race; she’s started from the No. 1 qualifying position (with a record time of 3.740 seconds) and she’s become the first woman and just the second Pro Nitrous driver to break the 200 mph barrier.

As for the crash, her dad was able to put it in perspective.

“It’s not a matter of IF you’re going to crash, but WHEN,” said the veteran who builds engines for a number of the sport’s top runners including Harris.  “We’ve all crashed, but she did exactly what we told her.

“She learned a lot from that accident,” he said.  “(She) has taken her time to learn the ins and outs and has done a great job of rolling with the punches.”

For father and daughter, it’s a mutual admiration society.

“What I admire most about him is how passionate and determined he is about what he does,” she said.  “I wanted to follow in his footsteps. To be able to race with him is really cool and I can’t thank him enough for being there for me and giving me this opportunity.”

“She can drive, there’s no doubt about it,” said her proud papa.  “She doesn’t get rattled. She’s the real deal.”

Musi will make her first qualifying attempt on Friday with three more on Saturday and eliminations on Sunday.  In addition to Pro Nitrous, Dragstock XI champions also will be crowned in Pro Extreme, Pro Boost, Extreme Pro Stock, Extreme Motorcycle, Top Sportsman, Top Dragster, two Jr. Dragster classes, a jet funny car and the South East Gassers.

Tickets are available on-line at www.rockinghamdragway.com.

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, Outdoors, Sports

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