Sportsman drag racing is one of Lynsi Snyder-Ellingson’s passions. Not only does she find a connection to the sport through her family lineage and late father, but also her family business, In-N-Out Burger, where she is president and owner.
[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #183, the Sportsman Special Issue, in July/August of 2023.]
Snyder-Ellingson began racing a ’69 Camaro SS when she was 18 years old and quickly fell in love with the hobby her father, Guy Snyder, was so fond of before he passed away in 2000. “I discovered that really [the Camaro] wasn’t that fast on the track,” says Snyder-Ellingson. “I thought it was time to look in Dad’s garage and see what car I could start racing that was a little faster.”
She jumped into her father’s ’68 Charger, which the thrill-seeker raced at Carlsbad Raceway, and soon found herself licensing in NHRA Super Gas.
“It was a good place to start to get used to the NHRA events and get a feel for it,” explains Snyder-Ellingson. “I had only raced my dad’s cars aside from my first car up until that point.”
Not long after, Snyder-Ellingson found herself building her own car – a ’69 Dodge Dart. She began taking auto-mechanics, engine performance, and diagnostics classes in college, where she was one of the few women receiving a high grade.
“That was a lot of fun,” she says. “It tied into things nicely because I learned a lot about under the hood and different parts of the car, then it carried over to drag racing and being out on the track.”
Snyder-Ellingson’s drive for performance continued to grow, and she began advancing through different classes in the NHRA. Now racing her dad’s newly painted blown ’84 Camaro, she competed in Comp Eliminator and Super Gas. Snyder-Ellingson’s determination paid off when she won a Wally at a divisional race in Arizona.
“That was a special memory for sure in racing with it being his car,” Snyder-Ellingson says, referencing her dad. “I have a picture of us both sitting in it at Pomona.”
After Snyder-Ellingson fulfilled her goal of winning a Wally, she told herself it was time to get a new car to compete in Top Sportsman after building her racing résumé to include Stock, Super Stock, Super Gas, and Super Comp.
“That’s when I found the ’70 ‘Cuda that had a 709 engine that I still have,” she says. “That was one of my favorite cars, for sure. I mean, I love all of them. I feel like I have a relationship with all the cars I raced, but that was a beautiful car with a lot of muscle.”
Fast forward to current day, and now Snyder-Ellingson is behind the wheel of a beautifully hand-painted ’69 Chevelle from Jerry Bickel Race Cars, powered by the engine from the Plymouth Barracuda. The car with the name “Flying Dutchman Racing” inscribed on it is a dedication to Snyder-Ellingson’s father – a nickname he used while racing.
The connection of drag racing to In-N-Out Burger was established in 1960 when Snyder-Ellingson’s grandfather, Harry Snyder, purchased a 50-percent stake in Irwindale Raceway and started selling his famous hamburgers at the track’s concession stands.
“I was born around it, so it was just always something that was cool that my dad did, and I loved it,” explains Snyder-Ellingson about drag racing. “I loved going to watch and thought, ‘Oh, one day I’ll do this.’ I remember when my dad died, his celebration of life was at the track, and that was kind of that moment where I was like, OK, I’m going to race.”
“I was 17 [at the time], and I was 18 when I started [racing],” she continues. “It was sad for me because it was something that [my dad] did. It was a memory that we had, and so when I started, he wasn’t there. So, my whole life racing, he hasn’t been there to watch, which is emotional for me because I want him to be there, but it’s also a connection to him.”
It’s been a natural synergy between Snyder-Ellingson’s family business and her upbringing that she continued the ongoing partnership with the sport of drag racing.
“It’s just a perfect fit because we have such a strong car culture within In-N-Out with being California’s first drive-through,” she says. “Just looking at our t-shirts since we started them – you’ve got all of these cool cars, these hot rods, muscle cars, and classics on them.”
As In-N-Out gears up to commemorate its 75th birthday, Snyder-Ellingson thought what better place to host the celebration than the newly branded In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip.
In-N-Out Burger’s 75th Anniversary Festival is set to take place October 22, 2023, and will feature a full day of NHRA drag racing, Southern California’s ultimate car show, live music throughout the decades, carnival rides, games, In-N-Out Burger cookout trucks, concessions, and entertainment for the whole family.
As a matter of fact, Snyder-Ellingson’s and In-N-Out family members’ band, .48 Special, as well as ZZ Top and 311, will be performing in the “Rock 2 Freedom” Benefit Concert. The proceeds from the concert will support the Slave 2 Nothing Foundation, a charity that Snyder-Ellingson started with her husband, Sean Ellingson, with the mission to free people from being enslaved to any person or substance.
“I had this vision for a festival to the song ‘Double Vision,’ with a drag race and music – it all just fell into place, and we’re excited about it,” says Snyder-Ellingson. “We thought this would be a great way to fight together and bring our customers and our internet family together and have the ‘Rock 2 Freedom’ event at the 75th festival during National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.”