Twenty-two years ago, drag racing was a new concept for Jennifer Zolper. Her experience with the sport stemmed from her relationship with the man who would become her husband in later years, Joe Zolper. In the year 2000, the year the two solidified their relationship with marriage, Jennifer would begin her career in drag racing.
Taking their wedding money, Jennifer bought the car which would be only the beginning: a 1971 black Dodge Demon. She restored the car with help from family and friends, putting a 440 big block with nitrous underneath the hood. It ran in the 12-second range when she raced it, but she mostly went cruising in it.
But as the story often goes, she wanted more. More speed with more tire. She wanted a full tube chassis car for the quarter-mile. After a year of searching, in 2016 she found what she wanted: a 1973 Plymouth Duster. It was certified to go 8.50 but had been sitting for 15 years. It needed new paint and a motor. They put together a 512 Wedge with an 8:71 blower, then built a 727 transmission to go with it, with Jennifer getting hands-on with much of the build. Next, they painted the body a sleek pink with a black stripe. Sponsored by Prison City Customs, the next step was to go racing.
Jennifer got her license in a car that 60-footed in the range of 1.17 to 1.20, without the use of the transbrake. “My first pass was actually very scary for me since I had not a clue about the car yet and needed to get seat time. But after I made that first pass, I had such an adrenaline rush I couldn’t get enough,” Zolper said. The car ran 9.20 in the quarter-mile that first pass. After that first pass, both driver and car gained momentum. Her quickest pass to date is an 8.51, better than her husband. That excitement has not yet faded.
“He had a LONG ride home with me,” Jennifer recalled, after beating his ET of 8.53. “Even my daughter was giving him a hard time. About once a week I remind him just in case he forgets that I’m the fastest one in the house.”
The car has the capability of making eight-second passes in the quarter-mile, but for this season, the crew is focusing on 8.60 index classes. She has a few goals for this season: to win races, have fun while being safe, and to show her daughter, Ruby – who is starting her junior dragster career this year — that she can do anything she puts her mind to.
“I am a businesswoman, wife, mom, and a racecar driver. Racecars can make or break a family but in our case it brings our family closer and is a great learning experience for us and our daughter. Racing is a wonderful experience and this family lives it’s life to the fullest everyday! Always remember, do what makes you happy! I know I am.”
Jennifer Zolper has certainly proved that from having no experience to being the fastest in the house.