At the age of "29-plus," Redd Szillat is not your usual drag racer — she races for fun and treats winning on the track as a perk.
"Winning is just a bonus for me," said Szillat. "I don't race to win. I race for the enjoyment, for the fun."
Szillat is midway through her second year of racing the 1982 Firebird she built two years ago.
As the owner of Redd's Prints and Signs of Billings, Szillat has produced many of the numbers and decals on the cars of local drag racers over the years. When Yellowstone Drag strip (formerly Intermountain Motor Sports Park) was created four years ago near Acton, Szillat decided to try her hand on the quarter-mile track.
"I raced our truck the first time, and after that first run, I was hooked," said Szillat, adding that she and her husband of 25 years, Rich, spent their 25th anniversary at the track.
"He's so supportive," said Szillat. "He's my main man."
Rich adds that he "just likes to see the smile on her face after she runs."
Szillat races in the Sportsman class at YDS, a class that includes cars that run 13 seconds or less in the quarter-mile.
"I think it's fine running this speed, but I'm hoping to move up a class in the next couple years," she said. "If you know your car, you know what it can and can't do and how fast it'll go. I'm comfortable with this car right now."
Szillat will be on the track in tonight's event at YDS, which includes Ed Jones' Jelly Belly wheel-standing stagecoach dragster, four AA/Fuel-Altered cars, a jet car and a Top Fuel funny car beginning at 6 p.m.
IDRA state points bracket racing will also be held tonight and Sunday (10 a.m.).
A foursome of Classic Nitro Fuel-Altered cars will make three passes each during tonight's show. These cars run on the same fuel as the Top Fuel Funny Cars. "They are amazing to watch," said YDS general manager JaLene Gathman.
Jamie Kemp's Top Fuel funny car will be making shakedown passes throughout the evening and Chuck Haynes will close out the evening with his jet car at approximately 10 p.m.
Yellowstone Drag Strip is located 31/2 miles west of Acton, which is 15 miles northeast of Billings on State Highway 3. For information, call 406-245-7223 or go to www.yellowstonedragstrip.com.