PALM BEACH GARDENS – Talk about fast!
Race car driver Elaine Larsen’s fearsome jet-propelled rocket car drew crowds of the curious last month during a visit to the popular Cars & Coffee Palm Beach car meet up. With 5,000 pounds thrust on a 1,200 pound frame, the sleek dragster can reach speeds of over 300 mph.
Admirers couldn’t help but marvel at a driver who steers a fireball.
“People want to know how fast does it go,” Larsen said. “It’s 0 to 100 mph in one second and 0 to 280 mph in 5.5 seconds. The fastest I’ve been is 336 miles.”
“The cars only weigh 1,350 fully fueled with the driver in it so every single pound makes a difference. We will do a quarter mile pass at a time, and burn 22 gallons of jet fuel. In 5.5 seconds it’s over,” Larsen explained. “They’re fun, they’re different. We take the engine right off the airplane and re-purpose it for the cars. We make it do things it was never meant to do.”
Larsen said it costs about $150,000 to build a jet car and about $500,000 to keep the racing team running (spare engine, spare after burners, tires, starters, fuel controls, and driver salaries).
Check out the video below to hear Larsen talk about her cool jet car!
Jet Car Racing is a Dream Come True
Larsen fell in love with jet cars when she was 18. But her path to becoming a race car driver was unusual. She was raised in a Mennonite community, which shied away from technology.
“As Mennonites, we could have cars that were plain. If it had a radio, we would have to take it out,” she recalled. “The wheels would have to be very plain. My family just couldn’t understand why I would want to drive a race car.”
She married Chris Larsen at a young age and the rest is history. The couple moved to Florida when she was 21 and she’s been chasing her dream ever since.
Chris Larsen is an air frame and power plant mechanic who worked for the Cessna Corporation before partnering with his wife to start Larsen Motorsports in Palm Bay, FL. Larsen’s car is sponsored by the Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne), whose students work closely with the Larsens to learn every aspect of the jet car from the body to the chassis to fabrication.
Larsen Motorsports operates a team of six cars with four more in production.
“People who like to go fast, people who like exotic things (love these cars),” Larsen noted. “These are exotic. There are probably only about 25 of these cars running today.
“There’s nothing on the planet like a jet car to drive because there is no power to the tires. It’s thrust-driven. It’s like the tires are floating on ice,” Larsen said.“The part I like about drag racing is that the race is won and lost in just a few seconds.”
Larsen won back-to-back titles from the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) jet dragster championships in 2014 and 2015.
She also knows firsthand about risk. In 2011, her jet-fueled dragster crashed nose-first into a wall in Columbus, Ohio. Larsen’s skull still carries the titanium screws that were inserted to repair the damage from that crash.
“The wreck actually made me go full throttle faster,” she said. “I don’t want to be afraid to do what I want to do.”
Larsen Motorsports Aims for the Next Generation of Drivers
Cars & Coffee affords the Larsens a chance to promote the sport of drag racing and also promote their relationship with the Florida Institute of Technology students who work with them to keep the race cars going.
“The coolest part about us is very early on we learned we like to work with the younger generation. Chris loved to show the kids what to do,” Larsen said.
Cars & Coffee Palm Beach draws thousands of car enthusiasts to the Palm Beach Outlets Mall, at 1751 Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard. The event showcases an array of vintage, classic, custom and exotic cars and features 1,500 to 3,000 show vehicles and 30+ vendors every month.
The July 30th event attended by the Larsens was Cars & Coffee’s “Christmas in July Benefit Toy Drive.”
Florida Fine Cars Makes Used Car Shopping Easy
Florida Fine Cars offers nearly 1,000 quality used cars priced thousands below retail at its three locations combined. Florida Fine Cars dealerships are conveniently located in West Palm Beach just north of Palm Beach International Airport and just off Florida’s Turnpike, and in Hollywood and Miami.
Used car shopping has never been so easy. Stop by Florida Fine Cars today and test drive the car of your dreams.
#floridafinecars #usedcars #cars&coffee #Larsenmotorsports