Student takes fast lane to success through drag racing

Emily Zartman is leading a double life; by day, the liberal arts major attends Penn State Berks, but during her free time she is a drag racer, competing regularly at Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pennsylvania and other racing competitions across the country.

In fact, Zartman was named 2016 Yellow Bullet winner at Cecil County Dragway in Havre de Grace, Maryland, and she has been named both a semi-finalist and quarter finalist at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee. She competes in her own racecar, a 1979 Chevy Monza.

For Zartman, getting involved with racing changed her life. She explains that she and her siblings grew up in a household where there was constant fighting. Then when she was 5 years old, her mother committed suicide.

“One day, I decided I had enough and that I deserved better than this, and that is when I found my new family and my new life,” says Zartman. “When I found Pray Hard Racing, it changed everything for me.”

Pray Hard Racing is owned and operated by a local couple, Doris and Mark Knarr. Their mission is “keeping kids on the track and off the streets.” Pray Hard Racing gives kids who might not otherwise have the opportunity the chance to pursue their passion for racing. The Knarrs serve as role models, teaching the importance of teamwork and responsibility. They took Zartman into their family and she considers them her adopted parents.

“Racing is everything to me,” Zartman exclaimed. “I had to fight for it, but it was worth every minute of practicing and time. I would tell anyone who has a dream or wants to make a change in his or her life to never give up and keep moving forward. I’d say I am pretty happy with where I am.”

Zartman plans to graduate from Penn State Berks in May 2017. “I love Penn State and I am glad I went to school to earn a degree,” Zartman commented. “I now have several racing sponsors and plan on continuing with the sport, but you never know where life will lead you and that’s why college was so important.”