Paige hopes to hit top gear in America

Paige Wheeler with her winning drag car
Paige Wheeler with her winning drag car

For most 13-year-old school girls, summer holidays involve going out with their friends, trips to the cinema and perhaps a week in the sun.

But Paige Wheeler, a Wrenn School pupil from Wellingborough, has other plans.

She is one of the UK’s leading junior drag racers and thanks to her sponsor, Alamo Rent A Car, she is off to Bristol Tennessee to race in the NHRA Junior Drag Racing League where she is set to take on 800 of her American and Canadian counterparts in the Eastern Conference Finals.

In England, Paige and her eight-year-old sister, Belle, race at Santa Pod and Shakespeare County Raceways.

They drive American drag racers, custom-built for them by Half Scale Dragsters Inc.

For the trip to Bristol, Half Scale is lending Paige a new car, which she must get to grips with quickly if she is to attain any success.

Ahead of her trip, Paige said: “I’m excited about going, but not at all nervous.

“I did race at Bristol for the first time last year, and managed to win a few rounds, so I know what it will be like.”

The Bristol track runs along a valley floor and is aptly named, Thunder Valley Raceway.

The adult version of Paige’s car – a Top Fuel Dragster – exceeds 300 miles per hour and emits a noise measured on the Richter Scale.

The juniors only race over 220 yards. With its 0 to 60mph time of about three seconds, Paige’s car regularly tops 80mph at the finish and accelerates from 0 to 60mph in about three seconds.

Paige will be competing in three separate races over 10 days at Bristol, culminating in the world’s largest junior dragster event.

Although the UK season is good preparation for this trip, Paige only has a few events a year to hone her skills at home, while the US and Canadian dragsters compete almost every weekend.

But Paige is not daunted and said: “I’ll let everyone else worry about that. I just want to get to Bristol and race.”

Paige’s dad, Andy Wheeler, said: “Competing in Bristol is an amazing opportunity for Paige and we’ve had tremendous support from our sponsors, headed by Alamo Rent A Car, who help make this all possible.

“In her first full year of competition, Paige won the Junior Dragster trophy at Santa Pod’s FIA European Finals and this season, she’s currently fourth in the UK national championship, so we’ve got everything to play for. Paige is very focused and we’re hoping she can hold her own in Tennessee.”

Neil Summerville, EMEA franchising director, Alamo Rent A Car, said: “Paige is having another incredible year in 2012, making us proud to be her sponsor and help her take on new challenges.

“The Eastern Conference Finals is a major event on the drag racing calendar, giving Paige some vital experience and pushing her to the next level. She has already proven herself to be a champion in the making and we’re delighted to help her make her American dream come true.”