One of the earliest forms of women’s involvement in drag racing dates back to the 1960’s, when the popularity and notoriety of the Back-up Girl phenomenon was born. Today, the modern back-up girl is still an integral part of drag racing culture, and Alberta, Canada’s Staci Hunter is a pro in the game.
1-on-1 with Back Up Girl Staci Hunter
Name: Staci Hunter
Age: 35 years old
Home Town: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
Occupation: House Flipper / Stay at home mom
How she got her start:
Backing up Top Alchol Funny Car 11 years ago
Back up Girl (BUG), Synoil / Exact Air TAFC
Chassis Brad Hadman
Body Roush Carbon Fibre
Engine BAE 526 ci. 3000 HP
Low E.T 5.60 @ 261 mph
Driver Greg Hunter
I was honored with being one of the back up girls finalist on a DRBUG facebook page. The Synoil/ Exact Air TAFC took home a Wally in Mission B.C last Season.
Q & A
What got you interested in Racing? How did you begin to break into the sport?
I was actually introduced to racing about 13 years ago, when Greg, (my Husband) took me out to the shop to show me his TAFC. To be honest, I knew nothing about the sport until I went to a race, instantly I was hooked. I knew that racing would be a big part of my life from that moment on. I watched Greg race a couple of times and I knew that I wanted to be more involved doing whatever I could, My first Duty that he asked me to do, was to back him up. I, of course, said absolutely, but don’t run me over! LOL
What did it take to get involved as a Back-up Girl?
I don’t have any formal training in the sport. I find that listening to our crew and fellow racers, is always a great learning tool. The thing I love about this sport, is that everyone is super competitive on the starting line, but back in the pits, everyone is like family.
What do your duties as Back Up Girl involve at a typical race?
My main responsibility at the track is making sure Greg is in the grove when I back him up. I don’t want him crashing into the wall or crossing the center line because I didn’t do my best. I also love playing hostess in our pit area by making everyone feel welcome. We love having sponsors, fans, friends and family in our pit area. Win or lose we have a great time and want to make a memorable experience for everyone. I also do a lot of work behind the scenes doing some of the accounting and social media updates for the team.
What have been some unique experiences you’ve had as a woman in the sport?
I find myself noticing how much respect and each team has for one another whether you’re male or female. I have watched women become accepted and successful in the sport of Drag Racing. Its also a great bonding experience meeting other women from other teams. I am sure I have received some form of criticism. In some ways I actually expect it, being that I put myself out there. I have no problem putting on a Halloween costume and running out onto the track to back Greg up, its all in good fun and part of the show. I expect the odd eye roll or comment but never let it bother me. Sometimes stepping out of the “normal” is what makes you a stronger person. All in All, my experiences have all been positive ones.
Was there any non-racing related training you received that helped to make you successful?
I can’t believe I am actually repeating this, but I think the public speaking class that I had to take when I was in college has actually helped me come out of my shell. Although I must admit, it was my least favorite class, at the time, and I dreaded going to it.
How does the sport/sponsors view your commitments to family? Does it make it more difficult? What advice would you give to moms wanting to continue a career in motorsports post motherhood?
I have two incredible kids, one boy, one girl. Racing with children can be challenging but it’s not impossible. When there is a will, there is a way. We are fortunate enough to have amazing people surrounding us that are willing to help out and watch our kids during a race weekend, if we have to leave during school. We love bringing them to the track during the summer and when school is out. We believe that racing is a great family sport and take advantage of that when we can. Its all about finding a great balance.
What things did you learn along the way that would be useful to another woman who is looking to start or further her career in motorsports?
Don’t let fear or intimidation stop you from trying new things. If you love this sport, listen and learn and follow your heart to chose your role and give it your very best. The great thing about racing is that its a Team sport and there are so many different roles that intertwine together to make it a successful team.
What are your future plans and goals?
To be the best back up girl and win, win, win! lol. I plan on taking every opportunity that comes my way in motorsports and making them count.