Female drag racer lives for the competition


Published: Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 at 2:50 p.m.
Now here's this drag racer. First, this racer is a lady. Not so unusual, because the National Hot Rod Association has a number of them. The NHRA is a leader in diversity.
Remember Melanie Troxel, Hillary Will, Angelle Sampey? Yeah, and J.R. Todd and Antron Brown? Or the Pedregons?
OK, and this Pro Stock Bike competitor at 5'2'' and 115 pounds is of Jamaican and Hispanic descent.
Unlike those others mentioned, you may not have heard of her, but you probably will fairly soon, like at this year's Gatornationals in Gainesville March 15-18 during the first race at which Pro Stock Bike will be contested in 2007.
Her name is Peggy Llewellyn.
Llewellyn of San Antonio, Texas, is a graduate of Frank Hawley's Pro Stock Bike School right here in Gainesville, where her instructor was veteran and six-time championship team owner George Bryce.
Remember that name, as he figures big, not only in helping to connect Llewellyn and Texas Ford dealer Karl Klement and his wife, Kim, who were forming a team, but as a part of that team, as we shall see.
Llewellyn actually ran three NHRA races back in 2001. She entered six events and qualified at three, but had to take a hiatus because of a lack of sponsorship.
Llewellyn turned 34 the day after Christmas.
But, golly, you say, how in the world did such an attractive young lady get into highly competitive Pro Stock Bike, or actually, motorcycle racing?
Like so many up and comers, including the John Force daughters, she was born and raised into it.
"It was my dad, Gene, and my brother, Gene Jr., who helped me along the way," Llewellyn says. "They built my first drag bike and it was my brother's Kawasaki that I made passes on while my Suzuki was being built," she explains.
"My drag racing 'root' is firm. My dad actually planted my need for speed seed. He is the owner of Southeast Cycles in San Antonio, Texas, and is an avid drag racer himself.
"Our family outings consisted of loading my father's Honda nitro Funny Bike onto the trailer and heading out to Alamo Dragway. I can remember looking forward to racing each weekend with enthusiasm because besides watching my dad race, my brother and I would get to race against each other on our dandy 'Pocket Rocket' bikes.
"The racing bug bit me (again) while pit crewing for my brother in late 1994. The same feeling I would get when my brother and I would race, the intensity and excitement of racing, all came back to me.
"I asked my father if he would build me a drag bike. Mind you, he already had an idea of what kind of drag bike he wanted to build me, he just wanted to make sure I was going to be 100 percent committed to the project. He didn't want me to get fed up and abandon the whole thing."
She didn't. Llewellyn said that within a week, she had a GS1150 bike and sent the bare chassis to a shop in San Antonio. Her father sat her down and went over the cost and the time it would take to build a drag bike.
"I had already used all of my savings, but my drive and determination wouldn't let a lack of money be a problem for me. I took on a second job, worked some overtime and used my quarterly bonuses to finish my drag bike. In the meantime, my father and brother wanted me to get a feel for a drag bike. Although I had ridden motorcycles since I was seven years old, piloting a drag bike was a different concept.
"My father and brother would have me practice in front of the shop."
Then it was out to the hometown track and the quarter-mile, where her dad and brother decided this was the place for her in order to get the full effect of racing down the quarter-mile.
"I had to get used to the launch, as well as using body finesse if the bike should get out of shape, and the third weekend, I turned in a pass at 9.10 E.T. at a speed of 140 mph."
What followed were four wins in Trophy and one in Super Pro at the local track. Then that brief fling in NHRA, Hawley's school in 2005 and the previously mentioned Bryce.
"I had met him before at the races, Llewellyn says. "George improved my technique. He showed me how to be one with the bike, instead of hanging on for dear life."
And, to the present and Karl and Kim Klement.
"And I met Karl through George Bryce," Llewellyn says.
The Klements hired six-time national champions George and Jackie Bryce of G2 Motorsports/Star Racing to consult with the team and find the groove that will launch the Klements' effort to a successful season in the highly competitive class.
And George Bryce will share tuning and crew chief duties with former Steve Johnson tuner Shane Maloney, who was plucked out of the engine tuning staff at Roush Racing. And then, after a thorough interviewing process, the Klements tagged Llewellyn to pilot the bike.
So you have to ask this young lady - what are your goals for this year, the future?
"My goals for this year are to finish in the top 10 and win a race or two. The competition is tough," she says. "I eventually would like to contend for the championship."

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