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Women in the IHRA - Meg Grzeskiewicz

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

You don’t often hear of a pageant contestant referencing her drag racing career during the talent portion of a competition but for Meg Grzeskiewicz, that is just one of her hobbies. The 24-year-old New Yorker was the 2014 Lancaster track champion in the street class and is also starting her own grass fed beef business.

It Only Took One Win Light

Growing up in rural New York, it’s not unusual that Grzeskiewicz became involved in motorsports or farming. “An ex-boyfriend got me into racing. I started thinking it would be kind of fun to race my truck in Street just to see how I did. My very first IHRA Street race I entered at Lancaster National Dragway, I won. All it took was seeing that win light one time and that was history. That was back in 2010.”

While Lancaster is where Grzeskiewicz got her start, she predominately races at Empire Dragway these days. “I race at Empire Dragway because I now live close to there.” In addition to a track championship, Grzeskiewicz has made appearances at the Division 3 bracket finals. “I have raced at the bracket finals in Pittsburgh. The last few years I’ve gone to represent Empire Dragway.”

Her ex-boyfriend isn’t the only factor to Grzeskiewicz’s racing career. “I’ve had an interest in cars since high school. I’ve stuck with my 1984 GMC truck. I bought that truck when I was 16, it was my first vehicle and the vehicle I predominately race. I [race] Street and sometimes No Box. I find that, being a slower ET vehicle, I’m a lot more competitive in Street.” Grzeskiewicz’s truck features a unique stick on the back. “It’s a picture of a drag tree on the window and it says, ‘Run your number not your mouth.’ “

Over the years, Grzeskiewicz has learned as much as she can about her truck. “I try to have a hand in everything that is done to my truck. I’m not experienced enough to do everything totally by myself but I do like to learn from people who know what they’re doing so that way I can do it myself next time.”

Crowns and Cattle

Racing isn’t the only area Grzeskiewicz dives in head first in. After getting involved in FFA (Future Farmers of America) in high school, thanks to some friends, she decided to pursue a career in livestock. Grzeskiewicz graduated from West Virginia University in 2012 with a degree in livestock science and is now building her own grass fed beef business, Rhinestone Cattle Company, from the bottom up. “Having to start from the ground up with no inheritance or no operation to take over, farming is often a family thing handed down between generations and I don’t have that. I figured it might take me my whole life to make it so I should start early.”

Many girls with the same hobbies as Grzeskiewicz would consider themselves tomboys but don’t call Grzeskiewicz one. “Even though I work and play in male dominated fields, I don’t consider myself a tomboy. I’m extremely girly even though I enjoy more tomboy like hobbies.” The “girly’ side of Grzeskiewicz comes out in the form of pageant competition. She recently competed in her first pageant, the Miss New York USA, a preliminary pageant for Miss USA and Miss Universe.

“[I got involved] in pageants much the same way I got involved in drag racing. Basically, just figured I was going to try it because I wanted to and I’m interested in it. It’s always been something I kind of wanted to do but never really thought I’d have the chance. I applied and they phone interviewed me. I told them about my racing and my cows and they picked me.”

It’s A Powerful Thing

Grzeskiewicz drive has led her to be successful, but that doesn't stop her from feeling the pressure at the track. “I get really worked up about losing, especially in foolish ways because I feel like people would let that slide if it was a guy but I’m open to being made fun of because I’m a female. At the same time, everyone at the track has been extremely nice to me and they’ve taken the initiative to help me out when I’ve needed it.” While most women feel more at home with other women, Grzeskiewicz continues to buck the trend, “I have a much easier time talking to men and a lot of my friends are men. I understand how their brains work, I don’t really understand [girls] as well.”

Even with the challenges of growing a new business and the pressure to do well at the track, Grzeskiewicz plans on competing in the Empire Dragway points series. “I definitely plan to be in the series every year as far as I can see into the future. I want to continue racing at the bracket finals in Pittsburgh every year. Once the business takes off, I plan on doing a complete and total frame off build on my GMC truck and continuing to race that and possibly in faster classes.”

While women in motorsports are not unusual, Grzeskiewicz hopes to show girls that you can be both extremes. “Being a female who enjoys racing and hot rod culture and cars, who is a physical laborer and works very hard, but, at the same time is beautiful and engages in girly activities too, it’s a really powerful thing.”

Last modified on Wednesday, 25 May 2016

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