Go Small or Go Home!

Irwindale Drag Racer is Proving Size Doesn't Matter



Who says you have to have the most powerful and fastest vehicle to have fun and win at the racetrack?  With a little enthusiasm and a lot of willpower, there's a native southern California girl tearing up the Irwindale racetrack. So take a step "In the Garage" with Nicole Calderon and her "Mighty Mini."


Name: Nicole Calderon

Age: 19

Location: Alhambra, CA

Instragram: @redracer53



SG: So tell us did you became attracted to drag racing?

Nicole: My dad is a car guy, growing up I used to go watch him race at Irwindale. When I was ten years old he taught me how to drive stick in our dune buggy. When I got my license there was news that Irwindale Speedway was closing down. My dad wanted me to try it out just for fun before it closes down, and I ended up getting addicted. I ended up going every week for almost 3 months in a row!


After that, my dad decided to get me into road racing. At the age of sixteen I had my first road racing event. I ended up liking racing even more. Later on I ended up on TeamTopak,a team that hosts track events. I became one of the instructors and now I help out at all our track events.


I grew up watching my dad race at Irwindale, so when he asked me to try it out I couldn’t say no.




SG: What's the current car you race?

Nicole: It's a 2005 "John Cooper Works" edition, Mini Cooper. I also have an FJ Cruiser.


SG: Do they have names?

Nicole: Yep! "Minion" and "Sofie."  The announcer at Irwindale refers to my Mini as the “Mighty Mini” because sometimes I beat cars way faster than mine, including Mustangs and Challengers and other V8's.


SG: So is drag racing the only sport you participate in?

Nicole:  I road race and drag race my Mini.  I've also drag raced my truck just for fun!




SG: Nice! Do you have any accolades or wins?

Nicole:  Not any official event wins, but many grudge races, and I hold a perfect reaction time at Irwindale Speedway.


SG: Perfect reaction? That's a tough thing to do!

Nicole: Yeah!  And I eventually got nicknamed "Red Racer" through Irwindale. One day the announcer said “it’s the RedRacer in the Mini” and ever since people at Irwindale would call me that! Haha. So that’s something that just stood with me ever since I started racing.




SG: What about upgrades? Have you modded you Mini at all?

Nicole:  Just a few things including suspension, sway bars and oil cooler.


SG: So far, what's been your best experience with racing?

Nicole:  I think it's being at Irwindale drag strip. I can never believe My little Mini Cooper is beating cars that have engines twice as big as mine!


SG: What are your future plans?

Nicole: To mainly keep upgrading the Mini.  I want to add the GP rear wing, and M7 front splitter. I also want to install performance coil springs and upgrade to racing tires!



Check out Nicole in action:



Photos rights courtesy of Nicole Calderon




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