Sisterhood of Muscle: Emma Rhudy

In our Sisterhood of Muscle series, we have featured women who drive and race Dodge products. Those women come from different parts of the country, they vary greatly in their age and they’re participating in different activities with their Dodge, but they all have one thing in common – they are of legal driving age. Our latest member of the Sisterhood of Muscle is not yet old enough to drive legally on the street, but 14-year-old Emma Rhudy is already racing in a Dodge Charger.

Emma participates in the NHRA Junior Street class, which is open to racers in the 13-16 age range, gathering experience on the track before she is old enough to drive on the open road. She is the next generation of Dodge gearhead and today we bring you the story of how she got into racing a Dodge so early in life.

Emma’s dad is Gary Rhudy, an experienced racer who also serves as the drag racing instructor for DragCoach.com. Matt from SRT Addicts worked with Rhudy to learn the ropes of drag racing and he chronicled it all here on DodgeGarage back in 2022. Due to Gary’s activity in the drag racing world, Emma has been around the sport – with up-close access – since she was very young.

“She has been a gear head pretty much all her life and has been around racing since very young. She loves going to the track and will go to any event you will take her to,” said Gary Rhudy. “She has a huge personality and loves to chat with people. Now that we have gotten past the junior dragster experience, she wants to drive anything you will give her the keys to. She is a super-competitive kid and I am sure with some more seat time she will be a top competitor in Jr. Street before the end of the season.”

The Junior Dragster Experience

When Gary Rhudy mentioned the “junior dragster experience” when taking about Emma’s interest in racing, he was talking about her first time behind the wheel of a racing machine – and it did not go very well.

“We legit bought everything. Junior dragster, starter box, spare motor. I purchased a golf cart to tow it with a junior dragster dolly – basically turnkey operation. I spent a week moving the seat and pedals for her height, went through all the controls, including the safety shut off. I bought all the fire gear and helmet. I took her out in front of the house, fired it up, told her hit it, go two driveways and shut off, then pull over, I’ll come get her. She hit it and it dead hooked on the street. All I could say was ‘uh oh’. She was probably doing 60 by the second driveway. She shut it off, pulled over, unstrapped from the seat, got out, said ‘not for me, daddy’ and walked back to the house. She was 10 at that time. We called the car the bad unicorn.”

Racing in a Dodge

Fortunately, she didn’t lose her interest in the sport, and she continued to go to the track with her dad and his fiancee, Kate. Kate has been featured here in the Sisterhood of Muscle as part of Girl Chat Racing and she continues to tear it up at a variety of events with her Furious Fuchsia Dodge Challenger. While at a Modern Street HEMI® Shootout event at Rockingham Dragway, Kate took Emma for a ride down the track, running in the low-11-second range after lifting at 120 miles per hour. When Emma got back from that ride-along, she told Gary that she would be interested in racing in a “door car” someday. It just so happens that right around that same time, the NHRA was rolling out their new Junior Street program.

The NHRA Junior Street class is a 8th mile bracket class on a .500 sportsman tree for racers ages 13-16. This class requires that competitors to drive a “door car” that covers the 8th mile no quicker than 9.00 and an adult has to ride along for the run. Emma has Kate ride along with her rather than Gary, as she is a “gentler” coach (Gary’s words). Emma’s racecar is a 2022 Dodge Charger Blacktop with the Pentastar® V6. Her best run to date is a 9.75 at 79 miles per hour, but there is potential for quicker times as she gets more experience, as Kate did a test run before letting Emma drive and she ran in the 9.50s.

Her first big event in the NHRA Junior Street class was held at Cecil County Raceway in mid-June, and it didn’t go as well as she had hoped, but she did come away from that event with more drive to improve in the sport.

“Her first weekend of racing was a tough one. She was very nervous going into both days. Her time runs went great both days and her reaction times were in the mid-.060 range. When it came down to eliminations, on both Saturday and Sunday, she drew two of the more seasoned drivers who have a year of experience in the Junior Street class,” said Gary. “I think the nerves got to her as she went red both days. Sunday, she was .007 red and ran a 9.811 on the 9.80 dial. This was also her first time ever staging with another car. When you make your license runs, you run solo and auto start (7 seconds to fully stage) and courtesy staging doesn’t come into play yet. So, this portion of the race was a teach-on-the-go moment and Kate was basically explaining on the fly in the car.”

However, Gary and Emma talked about the experience later that week, and she wants to continue to work toward a win.

“She said that she’s still in 100% and wants to continue with it. She also wants to show younger girls that this is something they can do and be competitive; helping to get more younger girls involved in the Junior Street class.”

In addition to her budding racing career, Emma Rhudy is a competitive archer, having won the 2023 Maryland State Middle School Championship, and she also plays fast-pitch softball, so there is no question that she knows about competing at a high level. With the help of Gary and Kate, Emma Rhudy has a great leg-up early in her racing career, making her a great next generation member of the Sisterhood of Muscle as she progresses through the NHRA Junior Street ranks.

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