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An Interview with Susan Roush McClenaghan: Champion Drag Racer (Part 2)

Part 2 of my interview with Susan Roush McClenaghan is below. Don’t forget to check out Part 1 of this interview.

Susan Roush McClenaghan races in Bradenton, FL, March 2012

Q: Can you talk a bit about your experiences as a woman in a  predominately male-dominated sport?

Ladies have had a smaller presence in Motorsports than perhaps other sports, but times are changing. I would venture to guess that there are more women in drag racing than any other form of Motorsports. I believe this has a lot to do with the fact that Drag Racing is very much a family oriented sport. Not just in terms of spectators, but families racing together. The car is a wonderful equalizer. I can go up against a fellow twice my size and have every bit the chance to win. Experience, focus and consistency are major factors. Our propane powered cars have proven to be very consistent. The greatest compliment a competitor can pay is simply respect. The competitors in our series respect our abilities (as we most certainly do theirs) and the capabilities of fuel we’ve chosen to run.

Q: What has it been like being a racer with such a famous racing father?

Honestly, he’s Dad. Being the oldest child in the family I was out of the house before he even began NASCAR racing. I am very proud of what he has achieved in his lifetime. Through my involvement in drag racing (a truly American grass roots sport) I hope to honor who he is…a person with a truly passionate love of cars, innovation and competition.

Q: Will you encourage your children to continue the legacy?

I have a seven year old daughter and my sincere hope is that she will look back at her time growing up at the races with a great fondness. Where she goes with it from there is up to her. Life can take you in many different directions. I didn’t start drag racing until I was a bit older and it’s work out pretty well so far. ;)

Q: Most competitors have rituals or lucky items that “help” them to perform well. Do you?

Not so much a ritual, I consider diving the car to be comparable to taking off in an airplane, but you never leave the ground. Consistency is the name of the game and following a set of procedures can be extraordinary critical. Then there are the curve balls a driver has to face when the track conditions change, the weather does something unexpected or your competitor tries to “psych,” you out. I try to stay away from superstitions. The greatest weapon a driver has is to stay cool no matter what happens. Intense yes. Distracted because something isn’t the way it should be, absolutely not. Sometimes much easier said than done.

More on Propane AutoGas and Susan’s Vehicle

Her car uses an all-aluminum 5.4L, V-8 Ford engine that was originally designed for the Ford GT supercar. This engine is naturally-aspirated with a 12.5:1 compression ratio. Several other changes were required to run on ordinary liquid propane, including CNC ported cylinder heads, high performance camshaft and valve train, and a wet sump lubrication system, all of which helps these liquid propane-power engines to generate in excess of 750 horsepower.

Propane is very safe to use as a motor fuel and has a significantly lower flammability than gasoline. It is also good in cool or hot weather making it ideal for motorsports applications. Propane is the third most popular motor fuel (behind gasoline and diesel), and there are already more than 12 million propane-fueled vehicles on roads across the world. As a green fuel, on average propane fleet vehicles reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 19% and create 20% fewer nitrogen oxides, up to 60% less carbon monoxide, and fewer particulate emissions, as compared to gasoline.

Check out Part 1 of our interview with Susan Roush McClenaghan.

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