Most drivers in drag racing work their way up to faster, more competitive classes as they go. They get more money, invest more time, increase their horsepower and work their way up into that power and speed. Not Lindsay Wheelock. She went from driving a minivan to driving a COPO Camaro that runs 8.12 at 165 mph almost overnight.
“That’s a big shock and a big difference,” Lindsay Wheelock says. “The COPO is a whole other beast, but it’s a blast.”
Lindsay grew up around cars and things that go fast such as go-karts, snowmobiles, four wheelers, dirt bikes, boats, jet-skis, and really anything with an engine. Her dad, Mike Alsop, had always worked in the car industry and now owns a dealership and the racing team Lindsay and her husband Dustin drive for – Mike Alsop Racing.
Her husband Dustin also grew up as a car guy and has been drag racing for a long time, joining Mike Alsop Racing in 2019. It was Dustin who gave Lindsay her first taste of serious speed behind the wheel of a drag car.
“My husband signed me up for the Dodge Hemi Shootout without me knowing,” Wheelock says. “I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? We did not talk about this!’ I had never told him I wanted to race in my life. I just had a blast watching and I thought that was it for me. I called him in a panic. He said, ‘Just do it for me. If you don’t like it, you never have to do it again. Just try it once. I want to see what you think.’
“My dad had this Dodge Demon, but no one was running it. That’s what they put me in. I had the time of my life. It was wonderful. The rest is history. I knew they were building another car for Factory Stock Showdown, so I put myself in it.”
For the past two seasons, Lindsay has been driving that COPO Camaro in NHRA Factory Stock Showdown. In 2020, she competed in five of the eight events, but 2021 was her first full year of competition.
“I still consider myself very much a rookie, but I learned so much in the last year,” she says. “In my first year, it was just a matter of learning – learning to actually drive and pilot the car. Now, we’re getting to the point where I’m learning the mechanics behind it.
“Two years ago, I hadn’t touched a wrench in my life. I’ve now probably done eight or 10 different engine installs with my husband. It’s really opened my eyes to see what that process looks like and how much work goes into it. It’s a lot of work and I think it’s helped me be a better driver to be under the hood learning how to wire, learning how things are put together, knowing what each part looks like and trying to really digest all that information.
“Now, we’re talking about how we can squeeze out just five to 10 more horsepower. Whereas, before, I didn’t care. I just needed to learn how to drive the car, and in my mind, stay alive. I had literally no idea what I was doing. I’ve come a long way and now it’s just a matter of getting more seat time and getting more involved behind the scenes with the cars.”
Part of Lindsay’s journey to becoming a better driver included time at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School to hone her driving skills.
“I learned a lot when I went to Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School,” she says. “That class offers so much. That really advanced me and helped me feel comfortable getting behind the wheel. The most anticipation isn’t necessarily after you let off that trans brake – it’s staging from the burnout box to the Christmas tree. That’s the most intense moment. It is so wild and so fun.”
As mentioned, Lindsay went from a minivan to her COPO Camaro just two years ago. However, Lindsay is much more than just a drag car driver. She has three kids with her husband Dustin, she’s a dental hygienist and she has been homeschooling her children since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I clean teeth for a living,” Wheelock says. “I also homeschool my kids. We loved it so much and the flexibility, especially when we’re racing, is why we decided to keep homeschooling. I don’t really know how I have time to do it all, but somehow we found a way to make it work. I’m a very busy person.
“The week before a race is the craziest. I put in roughly 25 hours of work as a dental hygienist. Then we come home, go straight to my parent’s house where the cars are, get the trailers loaded, get the cars ready, and somewhere in the mix I find time to teach the kids. Either that or we’ve got a babysitter who does it too. I bet we put in close to 40 hours outside of our regular day jobs getting the cars ready. It means long nights.
“To me, it also means great memories and we have a good time doing it because we bring the kids with us. We find a way to make it work and it’s a really good time. It’s worth it to us. I would never complain about it. We’re definitely tired, but we don’t know how long this opportunity going is going to be there. We’re just having fun while it’s here.”
Speaking of fun, what has captured Lindsay the most about drag racing, as can be expected, is the adrenaline rush of going down the track.
“I like the adrenaline and the thrill,” she admits. “When I first rode in the Demon, I told my husband, ‘That was terrifying. I think I blacked out, but it was so much fun I want to do it again.’ I came to find out that blacking out is a true thing. The science behind it is your eyes can only focus on something for a certain amount of time. When you’re going so fast, if your eyes don’t have a focal point and they’re just darting all over the place, it’s as if you’re temporarily blind every time you move your focal point. That’s what I was doing, so I really couldn’t see a thing when I first went down the track. Once you learn to really calm your eyes and find that focal point, everything’s good.
“My favorite part is between the burnout and staging, and then just feeling that speed. When you open up the throttle and get on that trans brake or that two-step, it’s so crazy to think I’m the one behind the steering wheel when it’s screaming like that just ready to go. It’s so fun.”
With just two seasons under her belt, Lindsay is more than eager to continue competing in Factory Stock Showdown, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t thinking about what could be down the road long-term.
“We really want to stay in this class. We’ve made it our goal between my dad, my husband and I that we won’t quit until we get a Wally,” she says. “The road is long, but we’re here for it. I also think that, like most racers, once you hit a certain speed, your next goal is to move up. I think it would be a pretty cool accomplishment to get into a Pro Mod at some point. My husband would probably be a little jealous though, so hopefully he gets in one before me.”
For now, Lindsay is having a blast doing what she’s doing and considers it an honor to be a competitive drag car driver.
“I think it’s an honor that my husband supported me in doing this,” Wheelock says. “He’s never once doubted my abilities to do this. To have such a supportive man behind me and then my dad behind me supporting me is an honor. I get nothing but support and I think it’s awesome.
“I have a lot of little girls who come up to me who say, ‘I want to do this too. I didn’t know girls could do this.’ To me, that’s just the coolest thing. I have two daughters, so it means a lot to me.”