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Simply Amazing – A True Race Girl’s History in Drag Racing

She’s an Arizona Native, born and raised. She attended Washington Grade School then later Cortez High School. Her family lived across from Metro Center Mall. Her father worked in construction so she and her siblings had the opportunity to watch their father work the big loaders all day long while he worked on Metro Center Mall. She currently resides in Glendale with her husband; they love their town and make sure to participate in the City’s big events.

While in high school, she had a boyfriend who had a 1965 Ford Mustang. He taught her how to build engines and race. She loved working on cars to make them go fast! It is apparent that the love for racing never left her.

Some of her biggest influences include Top Fuel Race Legend Shirley Muldowney and Mel Larson whom she met while working at Phoenix Dragway (currently Speedworld Raceway Park in Whitman). Along the years she met many racers that helped fuel her passion for the sport. This article is an in-site to a race girl’s career, Victoria Griffey Track Manager at Speedworld Raceway Park (Ret.)

Believe it or not, Victoria has some street racing under her belt. Back when you were able to drive your race car with slicks on Central Avenue in Downtown Phoenix, she would challenge the boys in her four-speed 1970 Dodge Challenger.  Victoria would come to a red light; she would yell a few words to her opponent and point to the light. She would then down shift, rev it up and wait for the light to turn green. That was usually in front of the Arby’s, a popular hang out at the time, so there were a lot of spectators there to cheer the racers on.

When Victoria met her husband Brian, he literally took her off the streets. He said, ‘no more’ and took Victoria and her car to the race track. She began racing at Firebird Int’l because Phoenix Dragway was closed at the time. It wasn’t long before Phoenix Dragway reopened so they headed there; and it quickly became their home. There, she raced her Dodge Challenger in many of the Lady Lighten Rod competitions. Her fastest time recorded is 11:46 seconds at 116 miles per hour.

Victoria began her career at Phoenix Dragway not long after it reopened under Bob and Caroline Curlee. Her first assignment was the Burn-Out Box. Over the years she held almost every position available; from Staging to Tech, Tower, Starter, Time Slips, Gates, and finally Track Manager. Victoria made sponsorship deals and organized events for the track, she also assisted with marketing.

Victoria worked seven days a week, non-stop for months at a time. She can remember her phone ringing till the morning hours at times. She had Pro’s from the NHRA calling to set up test sessions, from Warren Johnson to Joe Amato. She received calls by representatives from Chrysler in Detroit and Chevy as well. She describes it as an, “AMAZING WORLD!” After a big hectic race, Victoria remembers taking some time for herself, she would sit in the grandstands, close her eyes and just smile.

Over the years Victoria witnessed the track renamed several times, starting with Phoenix Dragway to Phoenix Raceway Park, Speedworld Motorplex, Speedworld Dragstrip and is currently Speedworld Raceway Park. She worked for many track owners such as Bob & Caroline Curlee, Joe & Lena Coletti, Dave & Betty Nipper, Bill Botelho and Dan Matthews. She said it was an ‘HONOR’ to work under the said owners. She also had the pleasure to work with countless Race Directors in which she states are, “too many to mention.”

After almost 25 years of employment, Victoria’s name became synonymous with the race track Speedworld. A lot of people depended on her and she always made sure to always take care of not just the staff, but the customers as well. She has fond memories of many racers as they aged, she had the opportunity watch their children grow up and become part of the sport. At times, she is reminded by friends of events they experienced together, “…there are too many memories to recall”, she adds. She admits that it was a very tiring job, the physical and mental labor was overwhelming at times. But her heart was always in it.

Sunset from Maui – Victoria

It was a tough decision, but Victoria decided to retire last year. She confined herself to her house and surrounded herself with family. She says, “I cried for months once I left”. She misses the sound and smell of the track on the weekends. She misses the staff as well. The picturesque view from her window at work of the surrounding desert and White Tank Mountains is unforgettable to Victoria, “I don’t think anyone’s ever had a more beautiful view out of their work window than me.”  What she misses the most is watching the racers smile as they drove into the facility with their two loves; their race car and the family.

As a retiree, Victoria is making up for all the missed time with her family. She has had job offers from different tracks that she has considered. But she says it’s the workaholic in her and she has to remind herself to relax……

 

On the ship (Hawaii)
Victoria & her husband Brian

A toast to Victoria, congratulations on your retirement! Enjoy the time with your family and friends. It was my HONOR to meet you and feature you here on Maggie’s Corner. See you out there!!

1 Comment

  1. Julie Fowler says:

    Great article!! Love the picture! Have a great time in retirement, although knowing you it won’t be for long!

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