Elaine Larsen’s Motorsports Charity is All About Fueling Autobody Careers and More
After two world championship wins, ‘House of Kolor’ jet car racer Elaine Larsen launches full-throttle into mentorship.
How Blazing Trails Gives Back
Blazing Trails 501(c)3 Non Profit Organization helps students and adults find a passion-driven career path through mentorship and skilled non-degreed training for new and current automotive professionals, and financial aid to automotive technology students seeking employment. Visit www.blazingtrails.info to register
Elaine Larsen isn’t exactly who comes to mind when you think of a Mennonite pioneer. But the farmgirl-turned-athlete, entrepreneur, and humanitarian traces a love of cars—and her aviation- and motorsports savvy high-school sweetheart Chris—to her start racing cars at 25 years old. Married, they would eventually launch Larsen Motorsports and, with 20+ years of drag racing experience, today Elaine blazes new trails working with high school and college students who are seeking hands-on learning and career opportunities.
How Blazing Trails Got Ignited
Elaine: I always kind of go back to my roots and how I was raised. My parents did a pretty good job and I feel it’s all about community, that you shouldn’t have more than the next person.
When we farmed, it was a communal kind of thing. And whenever we had extra, we shared it with everyone. I thought, growing up, that’s how everybody did it. It wasn’t like I was raised under a rock, but we didn’t have TVs or radios or anything like that. So there was no need or want because if you needed something, it was just there in the communal pantry. When I realized the world really wasn’t that same way, it was new and different to me.
Elaine met her deputy driver Josette Roach at a National Hot Rod Association race back in 2017. Josette initially accepted a content creator position for the team in 2019.
Today, she carries the torch as Larsen’s “House of Kolor” Jet car owner, and the team’s Grant Development Officer for Blazing Trails.
More Than a Race Team
Elaine: When I got out into the industry and into the world, I realized that a lot of people are all about stepping on other people to get to where they want to go, or they’re not helping. And I thought, Wait a minute… why am I doing this?
If you think that it’s going to be for the many autographs, or for the money, or for the fame, or for whatever, if you love doing this, you’d better start doing this for a better reason. I thought: I have this platform. I have this podium. I have all of this power. What am I doing with it besides going fast and breaking bones? That’s stupid. And that’s why Blazing Trails was brought about.
Elaine met her deputy driver Josette Roach at a National Hot Rod Association race back in 2017. Josette initially accepted a freight driver position for the team in 2019. Today, she carries the torch as Larsen’s House of Kolor Jet Dragster Driver, and the team’s Grant Development Officer for Blazing Trails.
Connecting the Dots
To date, Larsen Motorsports and its Blazing Trails nonprofit have reached more than 100,000 students to help them connect the dots by answering these career questions: What do you want to do? Why is this job important? And how are you going to get to your finish line?
Elaine: We work with high schools, technical schools, trade schools, and universities to bring students into the motorsports world and say “Maybe you’ve never held a wrench before. Or maybe you’ve never welded, held a spray gun or painted before.” We’re not trying to turn them into something that they’re not, but our goal is to give them a new opportunity.
Florida Institute of Technology, which is an aerospace university, brought us on board. We’ve also partnered with Sherwin-Williams, House of Kolor, U.S. Chemical & Plastics, Miller Welding, SkillsUSA, and Universal Technical Institute. Some of our partners on the aerospace side are Boeing, Northrop Grumman, NASA, OptiTrack and Siemens. And our next big push is Highly Immersive Virtual Environment, which uses AI and 3D spatial computing to allow our engineers to collaborate on the design process, using virtual reality to troubleshoot our jet car designs before a physical prototype is built. What we sell is opportunity. What we really produce are humans who have worked on our projects or have been a part of our team, that can go out and be an important person in this world.