Behind The Wheel - #17 - Tammy Burks
For the past 18 years, Tammy Burks has spent her weekends drag racing, continuously finding ways to go faster, and learning more every step of the way. Tammy is from the Houston area in Texas and has been racing since she was 17. Her weekends are generally spent at the track with her husband, who she met because of drag racing and her 5-year-old son. Tammy grew up around racing and knew it was something she was destined to do.
Tammy’s biggest inspiration and role model is her mother, “My mom has always been my role model. I started racing so long ago, there wasn’t really any big-name women around to look up to”. Her mother is the reason she got involved in drag racing as she had a stock, daily-driven Camaro that she raced as well. Tammy reminisces on the Friday nights spent at the track with her mother and step-father who drag-races as well. “My mom raced until she became a grandmother with my son & decided she wanted to stop racing. She spends a lot of time helping us take care of my son at the track especially when both my husband and I are racing”, she told me.
Aside from the love and support she receives from her mother track-side, Tammy told me her number one supporters at the track are both her son and husband. The car she spends all of her time drag racing with, is a 2000 Camaro SS. Her Camaro is no slouch either, with a personal best of 8.21 @ 169MPH. It still has the stock aluminum 5.7 block, that she kept to be able to participate in stock block shootouts. Aside from that, it has an 88MM turbo, Ford 9” rear end, powerglide, Holley HP ECU, and stock-style suspension. Unlike most of these cars at this level, it still carries some weight because it hasn’t been gutted and it also doesn’t have a tubular front end. Her next goal is to run 7’s and travel to more races she hasn’t been to before, like Holley LS fest.
Tammy has competed in one Women & Wheels class so far, the first event in OKC. She went out first round due to a red-light, but she told me what she enjoyed about the class, “I’ve always raced with the guys. There was hardly any women around until recently and this is a good way to support women empowerment. You’re racing other women that like the same things you do. It was fun, bracket-style racing or not”. Although Tammy doesn’t bracket-race, she found inspiration in trying something new and learning more.
She sees Women & Wheels as something that she didn’t see when she first started racing, the presence of women at the track was nothing near what it is today. “I think Women & Wheels has brought together a lot of women that may have been interested in drag racing, but never done it themselves. Some girls get intimidated because this is a male-dominated industry. Women & Wheels brings out the positive side of racing and tells women they can do this too. It’s brought out more and more women– when I started, there was never many girls around. People may say they’re afraid of racing, but the feeling is like no other”, she told me. The representation of women is something Tammy speaks a lot of, and how excited she was at the event to finally meet some ladies she followed from social media that were also competing in the class.
Growth and knowledge are some things that Tammy reiterated multiple times during our conversation. “I don’t think women should ever go racing and think that they can’t do it. It’s always a learning experience no matter how long you have been racing. We all started somewhere, and I love the fact I grew with my car. I know most people want to be perfect, don’t want to mess up, and want to avoid being embarrassed, but there are people that have been doing this a long time and still make mistakes, it’s a part of it.”
Tammy’s passion for the past 18 years has shown her to be an excellent role model for any woman wanting to get involved. She has kept a level head and shows women that there is always continuous improvement and learning in this sport and it is not anything you should be afraid of.
You can find Tammy on IG @ turbo_tammy00.