Dystany Spurlock: Fueling this Racer’s Adrenaline Started with Mom and Dad

First African American woman to own a team in NHRA history!

By Pam Collins
Dystany Spurlock drag racer
Dystany Spurlock makes history as being the frst African American woman NHRA team owner.

Meet Dystany Spurlock

It should surprise no one when a young woman blessed with a can-do-anything attitude, who dined on a diet of athletics, engines, and speed while growing up, enters the world of motorcycle racing.

Some might call it destiny. Or rather…Dystany.

31-year-old Dystany Spurlock joins the ranks of competitors in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), the sport’s highest level this year. She’s drag racing her Eric Buell Racing pro stock motorcycle and owns her own pro stock motorcycle team. While women have raced in the NHRA for years, women-owned teams are rare. And, as an African American woman team owner, Spurlock is a first within the association.

Erik Buell Racing Pro Stock Drag bike
Dystany Spurlock's Erik Buell Racing Pro Stock Drag motorcycle.

Support System Starting with Mom and Dad

Spurlock’s love of all things with a motor and wheels started early. Her parents rode motorcycles, taking Spurlock on rides around their Richmond, Virginia-area home. Sundays often saw Spurlock and her dad glued to the television watching NASCAR races. She says her godfather took her to her first motorcycle drag race at age 12, kickstarting her motorcycle racing dream.

I told my mom, “This is what I want to do.”

Spurlock credits her family, especially her mother, for constant encouragement.

“My mom is my hero and best friend. She told me at four years old, if there’s something you want to do, do it. Don’t be that kid sitting in the back of the classroom saying, ‘Dang, I wished I would have raised my hand or volunteered.’ I still remember that.”

An avid football fan, Dystany watched Dallas Cowboys games with her dad, played football with the neighborhood boys, and played on her middle school football team.

An Early Start in Racing

While most 16-year-olds ask to borrow the car, Spurlock instead owned her wheels, a 2006 Suzuki GSX-R750, a gift from her mom. But Spurlock didn’t use it for commuting. She raced it. She began drag racing motorcycles at 17.

Fast forward fifteen years and she has numerous wins and broken records to her credit. Spurlock still races, always moving onto bigger stages and taking on more significant challenges. She attended Skip Barber Racing in Virginia where she excelled in racing Formula cars.

Spurlock admits the challenge of racing satisfies her on various levels. “I love the adrenaline. And to be a woman in a male-dominated sport is amazing because I can be that example for other little girls who might think ‘only boys can do that.’ No, you can do it too, you can do it well, and you can be a girly girl while doing it.”

Dystany Spurlock racer
Meeting young girls who are interested in motorcycle racing or trades especially touches Dystany’s heart.

Being a Woman in Racing

Spurlock stands out among her competitors. She's tall and athletic, with expressive brown eyes and a smile as bright as highly-polished chrome. Her lengthy hair is twisted into braids, and she calls herself a “pretty tomboy.” “I do my makeup, I have fancy nails, but I work on my own motorcycle and get my hands dirty. You can have a foot in both worlds.” Spurlock says she and her boyfriend do most of the work on her racebike.

Spurlock says motorcycle racers seem more accepting of her gender. In Formula car racing, she experiences more typecasting and is often asked if she’s a helper or a flag girl. “I tell them no, I race. The look they give me is the craziest ... welcome to the pits!”

The move to NHRA racing marks a big leap forward in Spurlock’s career. She had planned to kick off the season with the series opening race in Gainesville, Florida, in March. However, after testing her bike, she opted to wait because she needed to tune her motorcycle better.

She also races in the East Coast-based XDA—the Xtreme Dragbike Association, where she began her drag racing career. She says that racing’s most difficult part is not the physical challenge. “For me, it’s the mental part. I can race with my eyes closed because I’ve done it so much. But I also have to be mentally sound. Meaning if I don’t do my pre-race ritual and something is out of whack, now I’m out of whack. I need to stay focused and do everything that I need to do prior to that race, from waking up in the morning to the first pass on the bike. We have to cross our T’s and dot our I’s.” Physically, she lifts weights about four times each week. Interestingly, she says her smaller size gives her an advantage in drag racing because less weight equals faster times.

Going Beyond the Race

Racing is not Spurlock’s income source—yet. “I say not yet because I still drive tractor-trailers for a living. That’s my job. The balance of it is crazy, but I’m hoping to get to the point where racing will be my living.” She worked as a flight attendant for four years but said the scheduling conflicted too often with her racing. She says garnering partners to sponsor her in racing would help greatly.

Not one to feed solely on adrenaline and live in the moment, Spurlock does have goals. “In the next five years, I hope I’ll have enough backing and partners to race a full season of NHRA Pro Stock every year, reliable motors, and an engine-building team. And I want to continue to build my foundation called “What’s Your Destiny Foundation,” designed to help kids get introduced to motorsports.”

Dystany Spurlock girls
Spurlock sees herself as an ambassador for the sport she loves. She presently sponsors two kids in junior drag racing but eventually wants to sponsor five children for an entire racing season. “I love to give back,” she says.

Dystany sponsors career days near her Virginia home with her motorcycle. The intent is to educate children about racing. Specifically that both riding and working on them is a career option. She says bringing new blood into the sport is crucial as current racers are aging out.

As an ambassador, she has advice for girls looking to join the sport or do anything. “Young women, do not get discouraged. Do whatever your heart desires, and don’t give up on those hard days when you feel like everything is falling apart. It’s okay to cry; get it out, regroup, and go back for it.

“You’re going to get a lot of people in your ear telling you why you shouldn’t do something. Don’t follow them. Follow your gut.”

Keeping Focus

When asked about her most significant setback, she casually laughs, calling it a multiple-choice question. “There have been times when I didn’t have enough money, and I asked myself, ‘How am I going to make it to this next race?’ or ‘I need to do this, but I don’t have the backing.’ Your day is going to come. Stay focused on the end goal, do what you can within reason, and never give up.”

Dystany Spurlock
You could say Spurlock wears her love for the sport on her sleeve—in the form of a tattoo. “It’s a gear-head tattoo. I have a shock, a sprocket, a valve, a piston, a turbo intercooler. I feel like it represents who I am and what I do. I’m a motorhead, a motorsports junkie, and I just wanted to put a part of it on me.

Spurlock Advocates for “Tools For The Trades” Program

During Daytona Bike Week this past March, Spurlock visited Daytona Beach as a spokesperson for Northern Tool + Equipment and its Tools for the Trades program, designed to help address the trades labor shortage by igniting a passion for the trades in the next generation. 

Dystany Spurlock Billy Lane
Fifty students enrolled in Career & Technical Education (CTE) courses in Florida’s Volusia County gathered at the New Smyrna Speedway with Spurlock and Sons of Speed racing series founder Billy Lane.

Spurlock and Lane spoke about their path into trades-related careers and how those careers are in demand.

“To become a professional motorcycle drag racer, I’ve had to work on my bikes myself,” shared Spurlock. “We’re showing these kids that you can get a good job in the trades no matter your gender or background or where you come from. These are great careers, and it’s an honor to tell the kids about my career path and to let them know they can use these skills to be anything they want to be.”

Find the NHRA 2024 season calendar here to find out how you can watch Dystany race.
Learn more about Dystany at her web site here.

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