A Woman Who Does It All!
She’s a woman who does it all; from drag racing boats to riding motorcycles, she’s one you don’t come across often. Kathy Frank, a Missouri native, has been successfully racing drag boats for 26 years. Kathy’s everyday moto is, “Attitude is everything.” Kathy says, “I get my inspiration from the strength of the human spirit and the goodness and kindness in people. I work as a nurse in the operating room at our local hospital, so I see a lot of really sick and injured people. I love taking care of people, and I love seeing family & friends caring for loved ones. It’s amazing and rewarding.”
On June 29, 2017, Kathy was racing at Blarney Island in Antioch, IL. I and one other QCREW team member were lucky enough to go down and spend the day with her and her husband, Roy. Kathy Frank has a history with Blarney Island. In 1994, Kathy Frank was racing at Blarney Island and she lost control of her boat and her body hit the water at 90 mph; she was lucky enough to only break her leg. But Kathy was back out there racing a year later!
Kathy and I were casually talking about how she got involved in such a sport and out of nowhere Kathy asked if I wanted to experience drag boat racing. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity. I mean, who can say they went 95 mph on a drag boat? Not many! And notice I used the words ‘on a drag boat’ deliberately. I am a frequent boater and all boaters know that one usually rides ‘in’ a boat. This type of boating felt completely different and I was nervous. Going 95 mph in a boat that sits 3-4 inches above water, with no seat belt, harness or bolster, and reaches that speed in 2-3 seconds….how can one not be nervous. I was just thinking, “It’s me and this life preserver.”
We slowly trolled out to the course and Kathy asked if I was ready. I gave a nod and started to say OK but really all I got out was “O” when suddenly, like a bullet shot out of a gun, we achieved what seemed like MACH speed. Within 10 seconds it was over, and thankfully so as I was unable to breathe for the full duration of run. Then barely 30 seconds after the first run began, Kathy positioned the boat in the opposite direction and we were rocketing back the way we came. My body was in what can be best described as a blissfully slight shock, barely able to mentally process what was happening to it. Wow, those were arguably the most intense 20 seconds of my life, and certainly not something I will soon forget.
While we were making our way back to the dock I was smiling ear to ear and could not stop talking about how my cheeks were flapping, eyes were glued open like something out of a cartoon, and how I got that feeling in my stomach like one is free falling. It was GREAT!
Kathy was the only female racer that night at Blarney Island. You may be wondering how a female got involved in such a sport. “My husband, [Roy], was racing when I met him. He asked me if I wanted to try [racing] at a small[er] race in Oregon, IL, and I said, ‘Heck, yeah!’ The officials allowed us to run the same boat in two different classes- I ran with no nitrous and he ran with nitrous. Well, I won that first race and got hooked, so we bought a second boat and raced them both at Blarney Island in Antioch, IL” said Kathy.
As the day went on, Kathy blessed me with another fun fact about her. She’s also an avid motorcyclist and budding 2-wheel drag racer. Well, what else don’t we know, so I pressed on with the questions. Kathy owns and races a 2011 Harley Davidson V-Rod. She has had a bit of performance work done on it by Performance 41 of Punta Gorda, FL. Kathy took it to Bradenton Motorsports Park in Bradenton, FL for the 2017 NHRA Bracket Series Opener and raced it in the V-Twin Class. This was her first time racing the bike and she managed to go a couple rounds before getting eliminated, but she said, “It was fun and exciting and a lot different than the boat. I’ll definitely try it again!”
A female who travels the Midwest and Southern portion of the U.S. racing drag boats and hopped-up bikes with a passion for taking care of the bodies and souls of those she comes in contact with in her profession. Kathy is one in a million and an amazingly cool person. For all of us women in the marine business, you are our hero.