Typical seven-year-old girls might spend their free time playing dress-up or acting out a domestic dispute between Barbie and Ken.
At seven, Torey Fischer was anything but typical.
Now a junior at West Fargo High School, Fischer, 16, has spent nearly 10 years strapped inside race cars, flying around dirt tracks at maximum speed.
There's no fighting it; racing is in her blood.
"My grandpa (Paul Fischer) raced awhile back," Fischer said, "and my dad (Darren), when he was a kid, used to go out to the track. He loved seeing the people race ... and eventually he started racing. My uncle (Shannon) races, too."
Fischer has been wired to race since the very beginning.
"After I was born, we went to the track a lot," she said. "I'd see all the people and all the cars and I wanted to get out there so bad. I always wanted to race."
Fischer's first race car was a $300 go-kart her father bought.
"He probably regrets that now," Fischer said with a laugh.
She eventually outgrew the go-kart and graduated to Hornet Class, which she has raced since 2008. Fischer's Hornet, the pink, No. 9F Dodge Neon, complies with strict classification guidelines. Hornets must be at least 10-year-old, stock passenger cars with three- or four-cylinder engines and a maximum horsepower and torque of 140. The windshield is replaced with heavy-gauge mesh and an internal roll cage is added for protection.
Though she did a stint last season racing Mod 4 cars at River Cities Speedway in West Fargo, Fischer's home track has been Buffalo River Race Park in Glyndon, Minn. She cut her teeth on the speedway, and gradually increased her prowess through the years.
"In 2005, I won points for the first time in Glyndon," she said. "After that, it started getting better and better."
Standing out in the crowd
As a female racecar driver, Fischer is a minority in a sport largely comprised of males. Sometimes she gets asked why she races, so she responds with her own question.
"I ask them why they play basketball or volleyball or football, and they say 'well, I love it, it's my passion,' and I say 'well, same goes for me with racing.'"
Most of the guys on the track treat her just like another racer, but every once in a while there's a bad egg looking for trouble.
"Sometimes you get that one guy who has a problem with girls racing and he tries to take you out every chance he can," Fischer said. "But you know what? That's just part of racing, so I deal with it."
Last season while racing Hornet, Fischer finished second place in points out of 26 cars. Her crowning achievement came in September, when she won the second night's heat and race during the Corncob Nationals at Buffalo River Race Park.
"They told me I was the first girl to win Queen of the Cob in the history of the race," Fischer said. "It was pretty cool."
She nearly didn't get to race after an untimely accident the previous night.
"I let my cousin borrow my car (to race) and he rolled it," Fischer said. "I was so (mad)."
The wreck, thankfully, looked worse than it was and Fischer was able to race the following day.
Play hard, work hard
When owning race cars, repair and maintenance is just part of the job. Fischer said it takes a lot of time and elbow grease to keep a car in tip-top shape.
Maintenance can involve "tear down, cleanup, going through everything and putting on new body parts to make it look better," she said. "Some people put in new motors, but that's expensive."
Fischer said next season she'd like to kick her racing up a notch.
"I want to race Pure Stock," she said. A Pure Stock Class car "is basically an old clunker from the '70s. You rip everything out (and then) throw in a roll bar and a bigger engine."
After graduating high school, Fischer plans to attend a two-year college so she can run her own business.
"I really want to open a track, like a go-kart track or a speedway," she said.
When told that financially troubled RRVS is thinking about leasing, and asked if she was in line as a possible suitor, Fischer chuckled, "I wish."
Fischer said she'll race as long as she can. Donny Schatz is a Fargo native who races sprint cars in the World of Outlaws. Would Fischer like to follow in Schatz's footsteps and race in the WoO?
"Oh man," she said, "that would be my dream."