The Northeast has a storied history at the Midwest's Chili Bowl, a tradition that Jessica Zemken hopes to continue in Tulsa at the Tulsa Expo Center on January 8-12, 2008

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Related Issue: Women Racers Directory, Women in Racing, Women Racers, More Women in Racing, Race Schedules, Notable Women
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Birthdate: 5/5/86
Hometown: Sprakers, NY
Marital Status: Single
Family: Mom-Shauna, Dad-Ray
Occupation: Student at Hudson Valley College in Troy, NY
How did you choose your car number? It was my Dad's number
Chassis: Eagle
Engine Builder: Kriner's
Crew: Seeking
Favorite Track: Eldora
Divisions competed in: Karts, Dirt Modifieds, 360 Sprints, 410 Sprints
Years Racing: 12
Wins: over 100 in karts, 16 with Mod and Sprint combined
Championships: 04 Utica-Rome Speedway Sportsman Track Champ
Regular Tracks/Series : 06 Empire Super Sprints
Hobbies: Racing, Swimming, Sports, Snowboarding, Snowmobiling
Favorite TV show: Anything short and sweet, not much for sittin in front of the TV
Favorite Music: Variety
Favorite Band: Nickleback at the moment
Favorite Food: Chicken Wings
Favorite Beverage: Ice Tea
Favorite Restaurant: Outback
Favorite Driver: Smoke
When and how did you get started in racing? My Father raced since before I was born. I grew up at the track, attending my first race when I was 2 weeks old. It was something I always wanted to do from as far back as I can remember. I started racing Karts when I was 8.
Who had the biggest impact on your racing career and why? Going to watch my dad when I was growing up made me develop the urge to get out there and do it myself someday.
What would you be doing if you weren't racing? Living in NC working in the marketing department of a racing team. Although if I wasn't brought up around racing I may be living the normal college life like many of my friends. Couldn't really see myself doing anything not race related.
What is your favorite aspect of racing? The traveling and meeting new people every week
What is your greatest accomplishment/best memory? Winning a track Championship at 18 and winning my first 360 sprint race in my rookie season with a sprint car
What is the worst thing that has happened to you in racing, or your worst season? Back when I was 14-17 struggling to make it to the track each week and missing lots of weekends due to lack of finances.
In your own words, describe your 2006 season: Eventful !!! 2006 went well, It had it's up's and downs. Got to travel more then ever, see and race at tracks that I had either only seen on TV or read about. Two wins with the 360, a top 5 in a 410 with the NST, and a heat win and a top 10 with the WoO. More then I could have asked for in my rookie season. With out the support of my sponsors none of the 2006 season would have been possible. Thank You!!!
What are your plans for the 2007 season? Plans are still ALL up in the air. As of October I have no idea what the 07 season will bring or not bring.
Where do you see Sprint Car racing five years from now? It's where its at!!! One could only imagine?
What is your ultimate goal? Hard to say honestly. If I was asked at this time last year what I would be doing for the 06 season and where I would expect to be in my racing career I would have never imagined that I would have gotten the chance like I did in the 06 season. Racing sprint cars is something I have wanted to do since I was about 6 years old, when i saw my first sprint car. I got the chance to do that a lot sooner then I would have ever imagined. I would love to get some more laps in a 410 sprint. Someday maybe try going south? Right now every day is a new learning experience. I'm racing, having fun, and loving life!

Northeast sprint car star and an original Dirt Nation ‘Teenage Titan’ Jessica Zemken of Sprakers, NY joined the show to talk about her career, her plans and about winning as a woman in a male dominated sport. Zemken is running a select schedule for 2007 that includes the ASCS King of CNY Tour, ASCS Patriots and Empire Super Sprints (ESS) competition. The 21 year old made ASCS Patriot history when she became the first female to win a series event when she took the checkers at Brockville Ontario Speedway on June 2nd. Zemken drives the Jessica Zemken Motorsports owned; Emory / Kriner powered Maxim #1z sponsored by Patterson Motorsports, Finish Line Racewear and Bell Helmets.

Jessica was born into a racing family. Her father Ray Zemken is a 28 year veteran of DIRT Modified racing in the northeast. Attending her first race at just 4 weeks old, Jessica became a regular to the local dirt tracks. As an only child Jessica spent most of her childhood growing up in the race shop around her father’s modifieds.

At the age of eight Jessica began her own racing career at the local dirt go-kart tracks. Jessica still spent much of her time around her father’s stock cars as she very interested in getting behind the wheel and learning the ins and outs of an open wheel stock car. After 6 seasons of kart wins and championships at two local tracks, Jessica got the chance to run her father’s back up car at Fonda Speedway, a near by half mile dirt track. At 14 she was competing at a few hit and miss events at the local tracks. She was able to win heat races and consolations in just her first few attempts.

At the age of 17 she was able to put together her own race team with a few associate sponsors. Contacting the sponsors and putting a solid team together, this is when Jessica’s drive and determination really shined through. Jessica was able to put the 2004 Utica-Rome Speedway Track Championship under her belt.

This accomplishment at the age of 18 got her recognized by not only modified teams but also local northeast 360 sprint car teams. Jessica was able to run about six 360 sprint car shows in the northeast with the Empire Super Sprints. Her second showing in a sprint car was at 360 event which took place at Rolling Wheels Raceway in Elbridge, New York. This event was sanctioned with the World of Outlaws. Jessica started 15th in the event and charged to a 4th place finish in the 25 lap sprint A-Main.

Her performance with the limited schedule she was able to run in 05 earned her a full time 360 sprint Car ride for the 2006 season, competing with the Empire Super Sprints on the 37 race schedule.

The team also rented a 410 engine from Kriner’s Racing Engines out of Chambersburg Pennsylvania to run a couple of local 410 shows. Jessica ran a 410 with the National Sprint Tour at Fonda Speedway. This was her 2nd time ever in a 410 sprint. At the event she timed 8th and ran 2nd in the dash to Jason Sides. Starting 6th in the 6 lap event she passed many regular 410 veterans and successful talents including: Lucas Wolfe, Danny Lasoski, Dean Jacobs, and Jason Sowald. In the A-maim she ran 5th to Danny Lososki, Jason Meyers, Steve Kinser, and Craig Keel.

Jessica timed 13th with the World of Outlaws at Fulton Speedway in New York. She won her heat race over WoO veteran Craig Dolansky. In the A-main, Jessica was involved in a first lap tangle which took the front wing off and bent the front axle. Under the red the team replaced the front wing. With a bent axle Zemken charged from 23rd to 10th.

- Four 410 starts, one top 5 with the NST, a 10th with the World of Outlaws, 10th at

Oskaloosa Speedway in Iowa with both the NST and WoO combined.

- Two 360 wins in her first year of sprint car competition

Jessica is a marketing student at Hudson Valley Community College. She is currently taking online classes so she is able to keep up with school while traveling with her race team April-November.

Jessica is a 20 year old seasoned veteran to open wheel racing. She has track championships, heat wins and feature wins in Karts, Modified’s, and 360 and 410 winged sprint cars. Jessica has the drive and determination to get her where she wants to be. She has a goal of competing in midget and sprint races in 2007. She would like to be running a non-winged 410 Sprint in the next 2 years and be able to compete in a division of NASCAR in the next 3-4 years.



  • Began racing go-carts at the age of 8 in 1994, Won 1st race in only second attempt
  • Obtained over 5 track titles between two tracks (Dodge City Speedway- Cobleskill, NY, and Caroaga Creek Speedway- Ephratah NY) in the junior I and II divisions. Cart feature wins totaling over 100.


Began racing an open wheel dirt modified in the northeast, as well as continuing to compete in the cart ranks.

Stock cars

  • Fonda Speedway - “Outstanding Rookie”
  • New York State Stock Car Association - “New Comer of the year”


  • Dodge City Speedway- Cobleskill N.Y. - Junior II Light class, Season points champion.
  • Dodge City Speedway - Junior II Unrestricted class, 2nd in points.


  • Started racing a full season in stock cars, traveling to various tracks to gain experience
  • Utica-Rome Speedway- Vernon N.Y. / Afton Speedway - Afton N.Y. / Can-Am Speedway- Lafargeville N.Y. - Second place feature event finish's in the Sportsman division at all three tracks
  • Several top five and top ten finishes at tracks from northern Pennsylvania to southern Ontario, Canada


  • Raced only limited schedule due to engine failure and lack of finances
  • The New Utica-Rome Speedway- “Hard Luck” Award
  • New York State Fairgrounds- Syracuse N.Y. - Labor Day Sportsman Super DIRT series event- set 4th fastest qualifying time, 8th place feature finish


  • Second Place in The DIRT Sportsman Mr. Dirt Championship points in the eastern division of New York State
  • Placed 6th in the state of New York for Mr. Dirt Championship points in the Sportsman division
  • Utica-Rome Speedway- Won first feature event on 6/29/03. The event was a Super DIRT Series tour event Became the first female to ever qualify for a feature event at the New York State Fairgrounds in the 358 modified division
  • Started 42nd in the 150 Lap Mr. DIRT 358 Championship event and finished 28th
  • Afton Speedway- Won feature event 7/25/03
  • Afton Speedway- 2nd place in Championship points
  • Afton Speedway - Most popular driver award Fonda Speedway- Fonda, N.Y. - Eleventh in Sportsman division points -only attending select shows
  • New York State Stock Car Association - “Presidential Award of Excellence”
  • New York State Stock Car Association- Awarded driver of “Outstanding Performance”- Afton Speedway


*After winning the first three events at the clay ½ mile banked oval, became Utica- Rome Speedway's 2004 Sportsman track Champion

  • Brockville Ontario Speedway- Won 50 lap Mr DIRT Sportsman Series Championship race - Became the first female to win any kind of a Super DIRT Series feature event in Canada 9/17/04
  • New York State Stock Car Association- “Driver of the Year”- Utica-Rome Speedway
  • Thunder Alley Speed Park- Fourth in overall Sportsman points standings
  • Afton Speedway, Afton New York- One feature event win 5/07/04
  • Thunder Alley Speed Park, Evans Mills, New York- One feature event win 6/03/04


Dirt Modified

  • As of 7/21/05
  • 7 top 5 finishes in 12 starts
    Competing at: Utica-Rome Speedway, Thunder-Alley Speedway, Afton Speedway

Racing open-wheel 360 winged sprints

  • First start 5/29/05 with the Empire Super Sprints (ESS) at Utica-Rome Speedway, Vernon, NY Started 10th in heat, finished 3rd Feature- running 7th, DNF mechanical failure
  • 6/1/05 with the Patriot Sprint Group at Rolling-Wheels Raceway, Elbridge, NY Started 11th in heat, finished 3rd Feature- Started 10th, Finished 4th, in only second ever start in a sprint car
  • 7/14/05 With the 410 Sprint Open - Fonda Speedway, Fonda, NY (running a 360, against the 410's)Started 17th in the main event, worked up to 10th The 3rd 360 across the line


  • Ran twice in a challenger late model at Adirondack International Speedway in Lowville, NY
  • Finished 7th in a 101 lap event (6/18/05), Second start ever on asphalt


  • Fonda Speedway April 29th - Sprint Car Open WIN
  • Utica Rome Speedway April 30th - Sportsman Opener WIN
  • Saturday May 27th - E.S.S. at Can Am Motorsports Park - WIN! (First E.S.S. Win)
  • Tuesday July 18 Fonday Speedway NST(National Sprint Tour) Finished 5th
  • Sunday July 23 - Utica Rome Speedway E.S.S. - Finished 2nd
  • Tuesday July 25th The World of Outlaws at The Fulton Speedway Finished 10th
  • Thur July 27 Can-Am Motorsports Park LaFargeville, NY.... Finished 6th
  • Fri July 28 Autodrome Granby Granby, Que......................... Finished 5th
  • 16th Over all in Tourment of Champions Knoxville Raceway
  • First woman to qualify in a Big Block event at Syracuse (NYS Fairgrounds)
  • Timed 2nd in the Sportsman event during the NYS Fairgrounds Super DIRT Week



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