DORNSIFE — Carolyn Mull is quick to flash a big smile when the name John Force comes up in a conversation.
She is also fast to point out that Force — a 16-time National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) drag racing champion — recently turned 70 years old and is still speeding down the quarter-mile drag strip.
Like Force, Mull is also 70 years old and actively involved in drag racing. She competes weekly in the modified Northeast Division of International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) competition at Beaver Springs Dragway in Snyder County.
By day, Mull works as a fiscal technician for the Northumberland County Area Agency on Aging. She also compiles the agency’s newsletter which is sent to senior citizens.
Recently, as Mull’s 1965 Chevelle sat in the driveway of her home near Dornsife, Mull noted that her husband Dennis’ 1965 Chevelle was already at Beaver Springs Dragway, ready for an upcoming competition.
The couple has been involved with drag racing for 30 years.
“I like to drive fast,” Carolyn said. “I got a lot of speeding tickets.”
With Dennis having participated in drag racing as a teenager, the couple decided the best way for Carolyn to curb her need for speed on the highways was to turn her loose on a quarter-mile drag strip.
“We got a Camaro,” Carolyn recalled. “We were going to take turns racing it. Neither one of us wanted to sit out (while the other competed).”
As a result, Dennis — a mechanic by trade — found Carolyn’s car in a junkyard and turned it into a dragster.
“My (drag racing car) came out of a cow pasture,” he noted.
Dennis serves as the mechanic for both cars, which are not street legal at this time. He rebuilt the engine in Carolyn’s Chevelle over the winter.
Nearly every Sunday, April through September, the couple competes at a drag strip. While Beaver Springs is considered their home track, the Mulls have competed at Numidia Dragway in Columbia County, and at drag strips in Ohio, Maryland, Delaware and North Carolina.
There are about 50 other competitors in the class the Mulls race in.
“I do win sometimes,” Carolyn said. “It’s really fun because I beat the younger guys.”
The couple also noted their son, Tommy Mull, drives a 1976 Corvette in the same class they compete in.
“It’s a really fast (car),” Carolyn said. “When I beat him, it wasn’t too pleasant for him. The guys really made fun of him.”
Carolyn’s car tops out at around 110 miles per hour.
“I’d like to go faster,” she said, with a wide smile. “We’re not the type of people to sit on the porch on a Sunday. We like to be doing something.”
Since Carolyn is the same age as legendary drag racer John Force, she lists him as her “hero.”
“He’s such a personality, if you ever heard him talk,” Carolyn said. “He has so many followers.”
She once had a close encounter with her hero.
“He almost ran me over with his scooter at Maple Grove (Dragway),” Carolyn said, while laughing.
Much like Force, Carolyn has no intention of stepping away from behind the steering wheel any time soon.
“You can’t let yourself get old,” Carolyn said. “This has kept us young… We have so many friends (at Beaver Springs). Everybody is so nice.
“If you break something (on your car), someone is right there with a part (to fix it).”
The Mulls also noted that they’re not the oldest — or wealthiest — competitors at the track.
“You can take a car (to the track) that doesn’t cost a lot and beat a guy that has hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Dennis said.
While the drag racing community is a friendly one, it’s also competitive. The couple conceded that those who spend a lot on their vehicles don’t like to be defeated by those who operate on a lower budget.
The competitors to respect, and at times marvel at, one another.
“We have a guy that’s 80 who races (in our class),” Carolyn said. “He goes really fast. He goes 150 (miles per hour).”
Dennis wishes more people would come out to the track to watch drag racing. However, Carolyn quickly states she won’t be found in the grandstands.
“It’s not a spectator sport for me,” she said. “I have to be out there (on the track).”