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Ridgemont students up to speed on chasing their dreams

Ridgemont students up to speed on chasing their dreams

Posted: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 9:07 pm
By: Chris Menees Messenger Staff Reporter

Messenger Staff Reporter
Race car driver Amy Faulk and Ridgemont readers share a common bond.
Both know how to accelerate.
Mrs. Faulk — the former Amelia Garrett of Union City, now of Memphis — has been on the fast track in the world of racing since the 1970s, while Ridgemont Elementary School students have been going the distance with the Accelerated Reading program throughout the school year.
Their paths crossed Friday morning when Mrs. Faulk zoomed into Ridgemont to share some inspiration with students who accomplished their grade-level goals for fall and spring in the Accelerated Reading program.
She was joined by her mother, Nell Garrett of Union City, and was welcomed to Ridgemont by her first cousin, Ridgemont first-grade teacher Annette Ferguson.
Mrs. Faulk, a pioneer among female racers and the first woman to win a National Hot Rod Association division cham-pionship, told the Ridgemont readers about the importance of never giving up on their hopes and dreams.
As one of the first woman drivers in a sport dominated by men, she knows a little something about determination.
“Don’t let somebody tell you ‘no’ if there’s something you really want to do,” Mrs. Faulk said. “I had a lot of people tell me ‘no’ and it could have been easy to not stay with it, but my husband (Kenny Faulk) is very supportive and he’s the one who pushed and wouldn’t let me give up.”
Mrs. Faulk graduated from Union City High School in 1967 and completed some college at UT Martin and Bethel. She got a job in the medical field for a while before she shifted her focus to racing and automobiles.
“Back then, I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” she said. “I didn’t have a lot of money, so I was actually very lucky. I got a job in the medical field and started in that, but then kind of got hooked on racing and started in the automotive industry, selling parts and things like that. That was really the better thing to do.”
Her passion for racing and automobiles actually originated in Union City — where her parents owned a garage.
“We had a garage, so I had been around cars and I didn’t know that you weren’t suppose to know about them,” Mrs. Faulk said with a laugh. “And then my husband is an auto mechanic and we have a repair shop. He raced, but he really liked to work on the cars. Women are always backseat drivers, so I was always giving him advice on how to drive. One day, he just decided that he was going to put me in the driver’s seat.
“And I think if I had been good at it, I might not have really stuck with it, but since I was so bad — I mean, just terrible — and got a lot of people telling me women shouldn’t be doing this and everything, there was a determination to stay with it and prove that I could do something,” she said.
The early years of her career weren’t without a few obstacles, though.
“Women weren’t allowed to be on the race track and I had to have a special license and a special permit to be able to drive,” she recalled. “But a 16-year-old boy that just got his driver’s license could drive and race. They didn’t have to do what I had to do, which was fine. Rules are rules, right? But I had to get licensed drivers to sign off and two track owners to sign off and go do some tests and stuff like that. Soon, that went away, though.”
Then it was full speed ahead for Mrs. Faulk, who claimed her first championship in the late ’70s and never looked back. She currently races hot rods on the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) circuits, but in the past has also raced long dragsters at a dizzying 248 mph.
Her current car is a Pontiac that she races in the NHRA stock eliminator class.
“This is what I race now,” she said, pointing with pride to a shiny yellow car adorned with her name and many other colorful markings.
Her racing career has taken her throughout the United States and Canada — which she said is “a good history lesson” — and she was headed on to a race in Bowling Green, Ky., after leaving Ridgemont. Then, it will be on to Dallas for yet another race.
In June, Mrs. Faulk will be inducted into the NHRA Hall of Fame, adding to a string of honors and achievements she has claimed over the past three decades.
“And that’s good, because I’m not a professional at it,” she said of her latest honor. “We just do it on a sportsman level and it’s pretty nice to get recognized because mostly it’s professionals.”
Mrs. Faulk’s chosen profession is as chief administrative officer with Hypertech, a company which makes products for street cars and performance improvement products. About racing, she added, “No, this wouldn’t pay the bills.”
Still, for a woman driven by determination and fueled by a passion for automobiles, racing proved to be just the right fit.
“We’ve been very successful,” Mrs. Faulk said. “But you’ve got to learn to make right decisions. You can’t do drugs and things like that. You’ve got to really discipline yourself. You’ve got to follow the rules. You can’t take the easy way out.”
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at
Published in The Messenger 5.26.09


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