- May 19, 2021
Braden Pines' Faith Frost is a drag racer.
She's also a great-grandmother.
The combination might be uncommon on the regional drag racing circuit, but the 68-year-old Frost never has let her age or gender stop her from accumulating a mass of wins and other high finishes over an approximately 20-year racing career.
Frost's initial fascination wasn't with racing, but with cars. As a young adult, Frost enjoyed going to car shows on the weekends, sometimes showing off her 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1.
She said her ex-husband became tired of being left behind when she attended car shows, so he decided to try his hand at drag racing. Never a person to be one-upped, Frost entered the drag racing world as well. When it turned out she had a knack for it, she unearthed a passion that has not left her since.
Frost does not work on her race car — a 1967 Ford Mustang as that is left up to Steve Cannizzo, her "crew chief" and boyfriend of 12 years. Any time something goes wrong, Frost said, Cannizzo is there to fix it, whether that thing is a blown-out tire or a mechanical throttle stop that needs a micro-adjustment to get the air flow to the car's motor just right.
Frost has been racing that 1967 Mustang through her entire race career and she always has been loyal to the Ford brand. Whenever Cannizzo suggests putting a Chevrolet motor under the hood of a race car, she has had one response — absolutely not. Frost gives a similar answer when asked about ever trading in the Mustang for a newer model.
"This one is perfect," Frost said. "There's no reason to change."
Other than the tires and a handful of other parts, the car remains the same as it ever was, and that is how Frost likes it. It was once painted red, but now sits a cool blue, with flames licking its sides and a giant iron butterfly on the hood.
Smaller, realistic butterflies adorn the car's back end. Frost said she initially wanted the more natural butterflies on the hood, but the person who painted the car's decorations could not bring himself to create such a "girly" design in a prominent spot on the car.
An iron butterfly was a compromise. Frost said her butterflies make her male racing counterparts feel the sting of losing to her just a big more.
The car runs on an alcohol racing fuel infused with a scent called "Goofy Purple," which carries notes of artificial grape flavors. The infused scent is necessary, as the burnt alcohol can get strong on the nose and other body parts.
"When you're inside of a building and you have the door closed, it (the alcohol) will burn your eyes out of your head," Cannizzo said.
Butterflies or not, competitors need to take the Frost-Cannizzo team seriously. Frost won the 10.50 index division of the 2022 FL2K on Oct. 8-9. The FL2K is an annual drag race typically held at Bradenton Motorsports Park, but because of Hurricane Ian's impact on the track and the surrounding area, this year's event was moved to Gainesville Raceway. Unlike other types of racing, an index race is about precision, not the fastest overall time. The division name, which in Frost's case was 10.50, corresponds to the target time in seconds in which drivers are aiming complete the quarter mile (1,320 feet) race. The car that comes closest to the target time wins each two-person heat and stays in the competition, until only one car remains.
In the FL2K finals, Frost finished in 10.546 seconds, meaning her differential was 0.046 seconds. That was 0.005 seconds closer to the target time than second-place Austin Stephens of Saint Petersburg, giving Frost the win. For the record, Frost's Mustang still went plenty fast, to the tune of 126.83 mph.
"I was coming down the service road (to exit the track) and all the people in the stands were saying "yeah!" and high-fiving," Frost said. "To me, that was the most exciting thing of all. It was such a good feeling. I was so proud of myself and happy that people were even paying attention to my race at all. Then I went down to the winner's circle and got my big check."
The "big check" was for $1,500. Frost said that amount is approximately equal to the cost of driving to Gainesville with all of their equipment and cars and participating in the event itself. Frost is not in this sport for the money, she said. It's about the work, fine-tuning everything down to a science, then executing when everything is on the line.
Frost said the FL2K win was perhaps the most memorable and important of her career. Coming off of Hurricane Ian, Frost and many of her family members had been without power for days in addition to the other effects on the region. It was a tense time, Frost said.
She was not sure if she and Cannizzo would make the three-hour drive to Gainesville for the race. At the last minute — the Thursday morning before the Saturday race — they said yes, knowing they would not get much time to test and tune the car. At the starting line before her first heat, she felt the nerves. What if she had come all this way just to lose in the first round?
She didn't. Frost and Cannizzo's veteran savvy carried them to victory.
There are not many drivers in Frost's age range still competing, she said, and the ones who are her age or older are men. Frost said winning against younger drivers, like she did at FL2K, always gives her an extra sense of accomplishment.
Are Frost's days behind the wheel coming to an end?
She's not sure. Frost said she has two more races scheduled, the Snowbird Nationals in December and the U.S. Street Nationals in January, both at Bradenton Motorsports Park. After that, Frost said, she's not sure. She will evaluate how she feels, which is what she has always done. Right now, Frost said, there's no reason to stop.
"There's no age limit on racing, as far as I can tell," Frost said. "It's a lot of work, but a lot of fun."