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 2 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 was 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 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 four 360 sprint car shows in the northeast with the Empire Super Sprints. Her first showing in a sprint car was at a 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 28 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 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 stand out 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
Wayne Simmons, F5 Sprint/Midget Chassis: “I have never seen a driver adapt so quickly to an unfamiliar race car and track.”
Dirt Racing Connection / A.J. Payne: “This 21 year old young woman has truly come into her own as a racer; she uses her sharp business woman traits along the way as she continues to make a name for herself in the world of dirt track racing. There is no doubt that she will be able to further her career to the next level. In addition, she has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt in my mind as well as many others, that she belongs in the racing world and more importantly to her, behind the wheel on a sprint car.”
Big West Racing News: “The Canadian fans came to Brockville Saturday to see their local hero Rick Wilson race on Saturday, they walked away though with Jessica Zemken capturing a historic ASCS Patriot win to become the first female feature winner in American Sprint Car Series history”
Jessica is a business/marketing student at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York. She is currently taking online classes so she is able to keep up with school while traveling with her race team April-November. Through the years Jessica has taken the right steps to develop her racing skills and Mechanics to create a solid backbone for her career. With the valuable lap time and experience she is ready to pair herself with professionals to launch her ever growing racing career.
• Invited to compete in Australia. Running only 2 events due to severe weather- 5th at Brisbane Speedway in Brisbane Australia and 14th at Parametta Speedway in Sydney Australia. These events included the best sprint car drivers in the world.
• 8 top 10 finishes in the All-Star Circuit of Champions series, finishing 8th in the national points
• Knoxville Nationals- 4th quick in time trials of over 70 cars
• Featured in Central NY Woman’s magazine and on News Channel 9 out of Syracuse- Live interview on the show Bridge Street
• The World Finals for sprint car racing in Charlotte NC- Qualified top 25 of the over 50 cars each night- Made the Dash Fri, 15th in A-main
• Sat event featured live on the Speed channel- Qualified 2nd in heat, blew an engine in the A-main
• 26th in the World of Outlaw Sprint Series of the 408 drivers entered
• 7 wins with the 360 Sprint Series with less than 12 starts
• Purchased a 410 engine to compete on a higher racing level
• Ran 2nd to Tim Shaffer (2010 Knoxville Nationals winner) at an All-Star Circuit of Champions event in Granby Quebec Canada
• Ran 3rd to Daryn Pittman and Tyler Walker (Two of the top rated drivers in the country) at an All-Star event at Fonda Speedway in NY
• Ran select pavement races at Airborne International Speedway, Plattsburgh NY in a modified / 3 top 10 finishes
• Ran a very limited 360 sprint schedule finishing in the top 4 of the 3 local shows entered
• Awarded “Outstanding Woman in Racing” Award by Dirt Motorsports and the Gater Racing News
• Rented a 410 engine to Compete with the World of Outlaw 410s- 2nd in heat, 4th in Dash, 6th in A-Main at Canandaigua Speedway
• 4 Feature event Wins in a 358 Dirt Modified between two Canadian provinces. 3 wins in Ontario, Canada and 1 in Quebec, Canada
• 7 top five finishes in 9 starts with a 360 winged sprint car
• Finished 5th in an American Sprint Car Series race beating out racing professional Tony Stewart who finished 6th in the event.
• American Sprint Car Series feature win June 2nd Brockville, Ontario Canada – Becoming the first female to win an A-main event in the 25 year history of the nationwide sprint car organization
• Only 360 sprint to make the 410 World of Outlaw A-main at Rolling Wheels Raceway in Elbridge, NY on May 11th
• 1st ever USAC/CRA Start – Manzanita Speedway, Phoenix, AZ 4th in heat, 24th to 18th in A-Main.
• 21st Annual Chili Bowl Nationals- First time in a Midget 2nd in heat – 12th in the E-Main – Mechanical Failure
• 5th in the Empire Super Sprints Championship points in rookie season with the 360 winged sprint tour
• 2 wins with the 360
• Numerous hard charger awards for gaining the most positions in an A-Main event (Hard charger at the Canadian 360 Sprint Nationals, 86 car field)
• 1 Sportsman-Modified win, 5 top tens, 6 starts
• First 410 Sprint starts
• National Sprint Tour- Fonda Speedway, NY- Qualified 8th, 2nd in the dash, 5th in the A-Main
• World of Outlaws- Fulton Speedway, NY- Qualified 13th, 1st in qualifying event, 10th in the A-main
• NST/WoO Combined event at Oskaloosa Speedway in Iowa during the Knoxville Nationals, Qualified 16th ran 10th in the A-Main
• First female to ever qualify for the DIRT Big Block Eckerd 200 during Super Dirt Week at the New York State Fairgrounds on the Syracuse NY mile track. This was Jessica’s first ever attempt at running a Big Block Modified. The event was nationally televised on the speed channel and Jessica was interviewed after engine failure sidelined her from the event.
• Jessica competed at the invitational only 360 Tournament of Champions at the Knoxville Speedway on August 6th. An event which only drivers in contention for the point’s championship in their current 360 series are invited to compete at. This includes all the 360 sprint car organizations across the country. Jessica placed 16th overall in the A-main event.
• In the off season Jessica landed the NativePoker.com sponsorship which allowed her to put together her own 360 winged sprint team which she ran on her own out of her parent’s race shop.
• First start with 360 winged sprint car as the 2nd member of the Patterson Motorsports team, running back up car
• 10th to 3rd in first ever sprint start, in a qualifying event • 4th in the A-Main with the Patriot Sprint Group in 2nd sprint start
• Asphalt Late model at Adirondack International Speedway in Lowville New York
• 3 top 10 Sprint car finishes in 5 starts
• 14 top 10 finishes in 19 starts with the Modified
• 6 feature wins at 4 different tracks
• Utica-Rome Speedway Track Champion
• 4th in Championship point standings- Thunder Alley Speed Park, Evans Mills, NY
• Jessica won a 50 lap Mr. DIRT Sportsman Series Championship race in Ontario, Canada – becoming the first female to win a Super DIRT Series feature event in Canada.
• “Driver of the Year” Award – New York State Stock Car Association • By the age of 18 Jessica had 9 feature wins between four different tracks and one track title in the DIRT sportsman modified division.
• 2nd place in the DIRT Sportsman Mr. Dirt Championship regional points
• 6th place in points overall in New York State.
• Jessica earned her 1st feature win on June 29, 2003. The race was a Super DIRT Series tour event.
• 1st female ever to qualify for a feature event at the New York State Fairgrounds in the 358 Modified Division at Super DIRT week in Syracuse.
• Feature win at Afton Speedway
• 2nd place in Championship points at Afton Speedway (Missing 1st by a 38 point margin)
• 11th in Sportsman Division points- Fonda Speedway -despite racing only a limited schedule.
03 Awards includes:
• Afton Speedway:
• Outstanding Performance
• Most Popular Driver New York State Stock Car Association
• Presidential Award of Excellence
• Limited schedule due to engine failure and lack of finances
• “Hard Luck” award – Utica-Rome Speedway
• New York State Fairgrounds mile in Syracuse NY- Jessica set the 4th fastest qualifying time (Fist time at the mile)
• First full season in stock cars ( DIRT Modifieds)
• Gained valuable experience, placing 2nd in feature events at Utica-Rome Speedway, Vernon, NY; Afton Speedway, Afton, NY; and Can-Am Speedway, Lafargeville, NY. She also earned several top 5 and top 10 finishes at tracks from northern Pennsylvania to southern Ontario, Canada.
• Track lengths ranging from ¼ mile to 5/8 mile
• Go-Kart Championship
• Limited starts in DIRT Modified division
• “Outstanding Rookie” – Fonda Speedway
• ”Newcomer of the Year” – New York State Stock Car Association
1994 – 1999
• Go-Karts at various dirt tracks in New York
• 5 track Championships in the JR Divisions
• Over 100 feature wins • Over 100 feature wins