Photographs by Dave Micarek
The last time we checked the engine with Sarah Edwards (“Fire & Ice,” July 2014) the speed queen was gearing up for her inaugural season racing her dragster on the NHRA amateur circuit. This summer, following her best amateur season to date, the twenty-four-year-old Trinity High School grad goes pro in the most dream-come-true way possible.
Edwards recently made her professional debut behind the wheel of Hanna Motorsports’ Queen of Diamonds II car, the jet-engine fired dragster that first ignited her passion for the sport at twelve when she saw its namesake predecessor being driven by former female pro Jesse Harris.
“The idea that this has come so full circle for me is kind of crazy to the point where I’m still in shock,” says Edwards, an interior designer who works for a local construction company. “I put in plenty of work for this but it still feels like I’ve been handed a dream. I’m so grateful. And I’ve taken the whole opportunity very seriously.”
Edwards was asked last spring to ascend to the reign of the Queen of Diamonds II, one of three cars that race for the Hanna Motorsports team, by team founder Al Hanna. Historically, Hanna has put female drag racers behind the wheel of his Queen cars. After the car’s former driver left the team, Hanna heard about Edwards from other drag racers and invited her for a test drive. “When the call came, I looked at my phone and thought, ‘Hanna Motorsports? Why are they calling me?’” Sarah recalls.
After testing in the Queen of Diamonds II—which flies across the asphalt at top speeds exceeding 300 miles per hour in seconds—this Glenbrook resident got the official green light to join the team. She’s garaged her personal dragster, Queen Bee, and spent the spring training for a season that will have her racing up and down the East Coast in a car almost twice as powerful as her own dragster.
She’s also thrilled that her former Queen Bee crew—her dad, Scott, and boyfriend, Steve Frycz—have been invited to crew for Hanna Motorsports.
“I’m still a queen, but I’m going to be a much faster queen,” laughs Edwards of making the switch to a jet dragster.
Her goals for her first pro season? “Do everything right,” she says, adding, “To drive from A to B as safely as I can and kick the other driver’s ass while doing it.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Noticed the Goodyear tires, carbon fiber body and parachute brakes in the Queen of Diamonds II. We looked under the hood to understand her true power.
4 Inches of ground clearance
260 Inches in wheel base
6,000 Pounds of engine thrust
Hanna Motorsports’ Sarah Edwards schooled us on the marvel that is the Queen of Diamonds II.
301 miles per hour; it can cover a quarter mile track in 5.25 seconds. To put that in perspective, it could beat the Space Shuttle in a quarter-mile race.
The car’s General Electric J-85-5 engine (with afterburner) was made sixty years ago and is still used in the military’s F5 Freedom Fighter and the T38 Navy Trainer.
That engine reaches peak temperatures of 1500 degrees, which the Hanna Motorsports team speculates is hot enough to simultaneously bake 499 turkeys. They claim going for five hundred “might leave the last turkey a little raw.”
Two parachutes. A third one functions as an emergency brake, or as Edwards calls it, “my best friend.”