Adriann Sawyer didn’t believe Deric Kramer when he told her he was an NHRA Pro Stock driver. Not only did she disbelieve his assertions, she didn’t actually know much about drag racing at all.
“His friends told me he was a line cook,” says the childhood cancer survivor with a laugh.
They’d only been dating two weeks when Kramer asked her to accompany him to the Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas, and once they were on the plane, he convinced her that he really was a racer and that she was going to meet his whole family that weekend.
[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #168, the Women of Power Issue, in June of 2021.]
“I was very nervous at first,” Sawyer admits. “I stood against the trailer and didn’t really do much, but that was the first race Deric made it to the finals. He lost by seven ten-thousandths of a second [to Vincent Nobile], and I was super confused. His dad was cheering, and I was like, ‘Did he win?’ He said no, but he said that I had to come to every race from now on.”
Sawyer, who is an emergency medical responder by night for a senior living facility, quickly became part of the team. She immersed herself in learning everything she could, and when Kramer’s father, Dave, moved over to servicing the engines, she moved into the official position of back half mechanic.
“I was terrified at first; you don’t want to forget to tighten down the lug nuts and a tire comes off, and I worried that I wasn’t packing the ‘chutes well enough and Deric would go into the sand,” she says. “That’s scary, because that’s the guy I love driving. But with time, came comfort. I double-check everything I do, and I know what they expect from me now. I know that everything is correct and safe.”
Sawyer, who is 34 years old and resides with Kramer in Colorado, has been in her current role for the past two years, and she’s been there for all but one of Kramer’s eight Pro Stock wins – his first. When the Topeka race was rained out and the conclusion was moved to a different day, she was already committed to other plans and could not attend.
“He definitely reminds me of that one, but I’ve been there for every win since then,” she says.
In her free time, not that she has much of it, Sawyer fights in medieval armor as a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. The SCA is an immersive history group where members dress in clothing of the period and participate in tournaments, royal courts, feasts, dancing, and recreate pre-17th century skills. Sawyer, whose parents joined the SCA when they were 17, fights in full metal armor with a ratan stick. The SCA is where Sawyer met Kramer, who is a fencer in the society.
She also owns her own metal fabrications business, which she started after learning the craft on the Torchmate CNC plasma cutting table Kramer had in his garage. He wasn’t using it, so Sawyer signed up for a class, figured out she really enjoyed it, and started a business. You can find her on Etsy at BeskarFabrications.
Perhaps one of the most common questions asked of a crew member is if they want to drive the race car. For Sawyer, that question is easily answered.
“We’ve thought about it, but my whole thing is that I just very much appreciate working on the car,” she says. “I understand that I have someone’s dream job, and I didn’t even ask for it. People go to school with the sole purpose of doing this, so I never take it for granted. I’ve never asked for anything else.”