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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

The need for speed

With a Disney flick hitting the small screen Friday, Erica Enders is one step closer to topping 330 mph and fulfilling her dream of becoming a Top Fuel dragster.
Enders, a freshman business and marketing major at Texas A&M, began drag racing when she was 9 years old, winning 37 titles throughout her junior level career, including Driver of the Year in 1995. In 2000, Enders advanced to the Super Comp level when she was 16 to become the youngest national event finalist in National Hot Rod Association history, losing to world champion Jimmy Lewis by only 0.003 of a second in the final round.
Enders went on to win five races that year and NHRA named her Rookie of the Year.
Tonight, The Disney Channel will air an original picture based on Enders’ junior drag racing career up to her rookie season.
“Right on Track” will premiere at 7 p.m., followed by encore presentations of the two-hour movie during March and April.
Enders said a few things were added to make the movie more interesting for younger viewers, but Just Singer Entertainment, Salty Pictures and Disney did a good job.
Enders does the stunt work in the movie, and Beverly Mitchell of The WB’s “7th Heaven” plays her character.
Enders met the actress last year while filming in Salt Lake City.
“I got to hang out with her for three weeks while we shot the racing scenes,” Enders said. “She’s awesome. She’s not stuck on herself like you would think most actresses would be.”
Enders and Mitchell have become good friends since then. Enders and her boyfriend visited Mitchell during spring break, and Mitchell visited Enders’ hometown of Houston twice.
Annette Mumolo, a media relations spokeswoman for ABC Cable Networks Group, said Disney did the movie because Enders is an ordinary teenager doing an extraordinary thing.
“She’s an inspiration for young women,” she said. “And young men, too.”
Mumolo said Mitchell’s recognition by young teen audiences and her personality is what landed her the role of Enders.
“Mitchell has a certain innocence, but exuberance that we thought would creatively portray Enders in an accurate and compelling way,” Mumolo said.
Other actors include Brie Larson (“Raising Dad”) as Courtney Enders, Erica’s younger sister and fellow drag racer. Jon Robert Lindstrom (“Port Charles”) plays their father Gregg Enders, and Jodi Russell (“Twice Today”) plays their mother Janet Enders. Marcos Toji (Disney Channel’s “Movie Surfers”) stars as Randy Jones, the Enders’ crew chief.
Enders said seeing her life portrayed on screen was hard to adjust to.
“It’s kind of surreal,” she said. “I see Disney’s advertisements for the movie and I hear my name, but I don’t know if it’s really hit me yet.”
Enders said she hopes publicity from the movie will get her the $4 million sponsorship she needs to fulfill her dream of competing at the highest professional level.
“I can’t wait to see what rolls after the movie,” she said.
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Live with Regis & Kelly have already contacted Enders to appear on their shows.
“I think the publicity is good for my dream,” she said, “and it’s good for the sport.”
Now 19, Enders can go from 0 to 100 mph in one second in her Super Comp Dragster or Super Gas Corvette. She said she wants to be able to go faster.
“It’s kind of addicting,” she said. “I just want to go faster and faster.”
Super Comp and Super Gas competitors typically exceed 185 mph.
Enders said she grew up around the racetrack and was inspired by her father’s love of cars.
“I remember going to the racetrack with my dad when I was a little girl,” she said. “Racing is in my blood; I wouldn’t think about doing anything else.”
Enders said her father has always supported her, but not all males have been supportive.
“A lot of criticism comes from racers who are older,” she said. “Some competitors get mad that I’m a young girl in the sport who is halfway decent.”
Enders said she’s heard comments like, “You’re a girl, you don’t need to be racing,” or “Why don’t you do the sport a favor and quit?”
The best advice Enders said she can give to other women and girls who want to pursue a male-dominated sport is: girls can do anything guys can do.
“If it’s a dream of yours, gender doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she said. “It’s the practice and attitude that makes you good, not if you’re a boy or a girl.”

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