Shelly Segal The Firestarter
Shelly Segal A.K.A. The Firestarter drives the jet dragster called the Firestarter in the Western part of the states. In her off time from the jet dragster, Shelly is an Art Instructor at her local Senior Community. She loves painting, sketching, and various crafts. Shelly is originally from Joliet, Illinois but has spent the last 20 years living in Las Vegas, NV.
Currently, Shelly Segal is sponsored by: TMS Titanium, Advertising Edge/Really Fast Girl Racing, Sunbuggy Fun Rentals, Carson Trailers and she also represents the Ovarian Cancer Coalition of Greater California.
For the 2017 season, Shelly’s biggest highlight was being invited to Las Vegas Motor Speedway with her dragster. For 2018 her season highlight is finally being able to add Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove to her schedule for the Night of Fire on June 30th, 2018.
“I got involved with the jet dragster in 2014, through my husband who has been a Jet Car Driver/Builder since 1978. We have created everything on this dragster from the chassis to the paint in our shop. I love everything about this lifestyle. From maintaing the car, traveling to each track, interacting with the people at the track, and of course driving the car!”
Of course just like every racer, Shelly has had her fair share of bad memories:
“Knock on wood – I don’
t have any bad experiences, like a crash. Just emotional… I was at my
first NHRA National Event at the Texas Motorplex last year and during my first run I had
problems with a switch that closes my bleed doors. (J-85’s compress more air than it can handle
during start up, so there are two doors that are open, to dump excess air out of the engine.
Then I close them before leaving the starting line, which creates the thrust power.) I made it
down the track… But the run sucked! I was so upset! I felt like I let people down, I didn’t want to
talk to anyone… Including the fans who were standing at my pit area after my run. But, I did…
And they very supportive!! A moment I will never forget. So weirdly, even though it was a bad
experience, it turned into a great memory.”
Shelly does have some struggles that she strives to break every day. One major struggle is she drives an exhibition car and it’s hard for her to get booked with her jet dragster. Tracks are drying up in the West and the ones that are left are just trying to make ends meet. Another struggle that Shelly is trying to break is trying to step out of her husband’s shadow. Her husband retired years ago from racing and she still has a hard time getting people to know it’s her driving and not her husband. Shelly is forever grateful for her husband because she wouldn’t be where she is now without him.
Of course with the struggles comes the rewards in Shelly’s racing career,
“Having the opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone! This car has changed my life.
Even though I was never in motorsports, I have always loved operating anything with an engine.
My first “toy” was an Arctic Kitty Cat Snowmobile at the age of 5. I have been behind the wheel
of pretty much everything (even some heavy equipment). LOVE the challenge of different terrain
and weather elements – no matter what I was sitting on, or in. BUT, I have pretty much lived my
whole life as a hermit… AND driving a Jet Powered Dragster means putting myself out there in
front of a crowd and having a one on one conversations with strangers.
I just hope that energy I get from everyone I meet, I can somehow give it back. It’s been a great
life overhaul and I want to thank everyone who has supported me, from the bottom of my soul.”
If Shelly could go back and give herself some advice to her younger self it would be to get into this racing industry earlier! She, of course, doesn’t beat herself up over it because she believes that everything happens for a reason.
Shelly’s goals for the 2018 season is to book more races in the Midwest, especially in the Iowa/Illinois/Wisconsin area because she used to live in the Midwest. She just thinks how cool would it be to be a driver finally and not just a spectator like she was the last time she was at the track 30 years ago. The one thing that makes it hard to reach her goals is finding ways to give back to her community. With Shelly trying to travel to the East side of the country, it means she will not be around a lot and will miss out on special events and the overall togetherness of everyone that shares her passion.
Before the 2018 season starts, Shelly and her husband will be making changes to her general electric 85 powered jet dragster. They will be putting their jet dragster on a “diet” with help from TMS Titanium who will be joining the Segal Motorsports 2.0 this year!
Besides being at the track and driving her jet dragster, Shelly enjoys anything art related. Rather its designing things with pencil and paper, metal art (her dragster is made out of metal, so it too is a form of art.), or even building things out of wood. She also enjoys photography! Shelly was a track photographer for 3 years at Las Vegas Motorsports. She was there for every race and it didn’t matter what type of race it was.
Shelly would like to share some advice with the women who would like to get into the motorsports world:
“First, decide if your life has room for the high demands the sport puts on you and everyone in
your life. It’s a lot of hard work and sleepless nights in between events. Being at the track is only
a tiny fraction of entire program. If you are able to make racing a lifestyle, THEN actively find
people who want to teach and can help you learn. And learn everything! From how to load a trailer, working with others under pressure, tuning a car for each run and of course, how to
operate the vehicle. The short version – If your are all in, don’t waste your time with people who
don’t take you seriously. Also if you plan to get into this profession reinforce the fact that jumping in a car is a way of life, know that having fun is hard work…And there is never really an off season. But most importantly, learn to eliminate the people who do not value what you do, even if it means starting over. Don’t compromise your self-worth.”
One of Shelly’s favorite quotes is,
“*Live life to the fullest… Keep your Inner fire burning!”
If you would like to keep up with Shelly Segal you can check her out on her social
media platforms below:
I got into racing when I first saw the first Fast and the Furious movie. I have an older brother who was into imports and loved customizing his cars.
I got into drag racing in 2006 when my friend Alan Smith brought me to Great Lakes Dragaway. From there I was hooked! I met my now husband Carlos at Great Lakes Dragaway and soon become the coordinator of the Chicago WiseGuys. The Chicago Wiseguys are the fastest pro mod circuit group in the Midwest!
My husband has an 81 Camaro which is the original Cisco kid from the old pro stock days. It was running with the Chicago Wiseguys for many years.
My father in law Hector Laracuente owns a 2006 blue twin turbo hemi GTO. The fastest ET is 6.40 at 221 in the quarter mile.