Send it, granny!
Without her Dodge Hellcat, Carolyn Batteas looks like another sweet great grandmother. The 75-year-old has a head of gray hair that barely crests the roofline of her muscle car, which she doesn’t drive as if it were a Toyota Camry. Instead, Batteas takes her Mopar racing and has become at star student at the Bondurant High Performance Driving School located in Chandler, Arizona. She’s the kind of grandma you wished you had and we certainly hope her grandchildren appreciate their fortunate position.
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Recently profiled on Dodge Garage, Batteas not surprisingly disclosed she was a tomboy as a child, preferring playing outside to doing embroidery indoors. However, she didn’t suddenly gravitate to racing even when she earned her driver’s license. That need for speed came later as she moved to Texas and entered her retirement years.
Batteas was originally drawn to Dodge Challengers because she noticed how good-looking they were. They do have a retro charm to them, so it’s easy to see why the great grandmother wanted to drive one around town. However, once at the local dealership she was talked into buying a 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and was instantly hooked to the raw power and thrill of speed. She began visiting local drag strips to fully enjoy her Mopar and only then realized the full potential of her machine.
Perhaps just as surprising as seeing a woman in the twilight of her life shredding tires with people half her age is the fact she’s a retired nurse. There’s a stigma that nurses are risk-adverse and try ruining the fun for others by always highlighting the dangers in everyday activities. Perhaps this a testament to what so many racers know, that the risks of ripping it on the track pale in comparison to the rewards.
Instead of being scared by all that righteous horsepower and the sickly whine of the supercharger, Batteas wanted more. That’s the appropriate response to such activities, but admittedly not everyone has that response. Despite making all the rookie mistakes the first few times on the track, Batteas quickly earned the respect of other racers and fans, who started calling her “Ms. Hellcat.”
After a relative suggested she check out the Bondurant High Performance Driving School, Batteas loaded up her motorhome and made the journey from Texas to Arizona for instruction on how to perfect her skills further. Under the tutelage of professional instructors, the great grandmother learned not only how to get down the drag strip quicker but also how to choose the best line on a road course.
Just like at home, the 75-year-old quickly gained a reputation for her fearless spirit. Instead of being afraid of making mistakes, she seemed to revel in learning from her foibles. Soon, she was mastering the concepts of understeer and oversteer, carving up the track with ruthless precision.
For the drag racing portion of the instruction, the goal Batteas was laser-focused on was getting an official NHRA Nine-Second License. Learning to master the potent Dodge Demon, she eventually pushed the Mopar to a 135 mph trap speed and attained her lofty goal, something many racers have pushed for but not achieved. She has plans to continue on with the more advanced classes at the school, showing she’s willing to push herself even further.
Bitten by the bug, Batteas now owns a 2020 Dodge Challenger R/T 50th Anniversary in Go Mango and is preparing to take delivery of a 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. The great grandmother is also on the wait list for a 2021 Ram TRX Launch Edition