Have you ever watched a jet dragster race? We suggest you go do before you read this article. Because not only is it a spectacle of human feat, but the idea of literally strapping your body to the front of a jet engine then being pushed down a drag strip at nearly 300 miles per hour — takes a bit of nerve. But for Kat Redner, she’s locked and loaded, and ready to make her way into the world of jet dragster racing.
“Never in a million years did I think that I would be behind the wheel of a fire-breathing, jet-powered dragster!” She says. “I had always thought that it would be cool to become a racecar driver, but I didn’t even think that it was realistic or even possible for me to become one.”
Growing up in Florida, her parents had a knack for restoring cars so American muscle was second nature Kat. On the weekends, she and her father would spend time together attending the local Orlando car shows. They even owned a “66 convertible Mustang passed down from her grandfather. To this day, Kat has a personal attraction to Mustangs, especially her own, a 2008 named “My Little Pony.”
Though she grew up around building cars, it wasn’t until recently when she was inspired to become active with jet cars. “I actually got into racing by meeting World Champion Jet Drag Racer, Elaine Larsen during an entrepreneur seminar” She says. “She gave this incredible speech and at the end I just had to meet her — we hit it off from there!”
Her relationship with Elaine led to working at her high performance vehicle shop, Larsen Motorsports in Palm Bay. “I was in charge of marketing projects, including social media, web development, graphic design, and really any job that I was given” She said. “Eventually I worked my way into becoming the teams newest jet dragster driver in-training.”
So back to idea of strapping your body to the front of a jet engine. The popping of the afterburner is similar to igniting a 10-foot firecracker. Lining up the staging tree is like a waiting for a snake to strike. Needless to say. It’s a marvel. “When I went down the track for the first time ever in the jet car, I have to admit, I was completely terrified the night before — I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it or not.”
“The afterburner gives the jet dragster an insane increase in thrust!” She says. “The first time I lit it, I have to admit, I didn’t brace myself nearly enough as I should have! The second time I lit it, I was still in for quite the ride.” But after several attempts of running the car, Kat became more comfortable with the dragster. Just recently she completed a 4-second pass, going 200mph. Keep in mind, there’s still bit more room to go, being these cars race upwards of 280mph. Her top speed so far? 235mph!
Jet car racing is a dangerous game, but it’s one that Kat is prepared to play. She says that her plan for the future is to become a licensed jet dragster driver for Larsen Motorsports, and to travel across the country with the teams and become a full-time driver. “Not only do I want to race, I also want to become a role model for kids and help give them confidence and to inspire them.” She says.
Kat is like many of us that dream. But the difference is she’s going out and chasing hers. “You’ve got three choices in life.” She says. “Give up. Give in. Or give it all you’ve got!” Her philosophy is that having a desire to follow a dream; helps overcame the fear of failure. It’s a great philosophy we all should live by. So next you’re thinking of doing the impossible, strap on your jet engine — and aim for the sky!