Dina Parise was a professional skater for Ice Capades who traded in her skates for tires and sequins for a fire suit. As the proud owner of Dina Parise Racing (DPR), a two-car pro modified drag racing team, she is one of the few female team owners and drivers in motorsports today.
Working alongside her husband Andrew, DPR is considered one of the most dynamic racing teams on the circuit. So how did this glamorous skater end up behind the wheel?
Growing up and throughout high school, Dina competed as both a gymnast and an ice skater, but skating was her true passion. Dina continued to train in skating beyond her high school years in order to achieve her dream of performing with the Ice Capades.
Returning home to New York after touring with the entertainment show for four years, Dina met and married her husband Andrew, a competitive drag racer, and it wasn’t before long that Dina got the itch to get behind the wheel.
“Did you ever see something and just know you had to try it? Even if maybe you did not succeed, but you just had to try? Well, that’s just what happened when I began drag racing,” she shared with WYSK.
Dina isn’t a stranger to risk taking or a dangerous activity. Many of her performances with Ice Capades included specialty numbers… everything from magic routines, to hanging by one wrist 21 feet in the air spinning around, sans a net or harness. So drag racing didn’t seem like a big jump.
“Believe it or not, performing in Ice Capades and drag racing are more similar than you would think. From gliding on ice to pounding the pavement, it’s still a show. Now, if I can only get a good pair of lashes to wear that won’t come off when I put my helmet on!”
Dina attributes much of her success to preparation, both physically and mentally. “I am 5′ tall and 115 lbs. This car has 3,000 horsepower and goes 240MPH in 6 seconds. Being fit and keeping my strength up, helps me to wrangle my car. Mentally, it can be a challenge, but you need to clear it out once you get in that car.” She adds, “My skating coach, Lee Meadows taught me a lot about how to focus. I don’t think I always applied the focus I needed then, but I do now. When I get in the car, I focus down the track. I race my race and do not worry about what my competitor is doing.”
Dina is not only out to win, DPR is a race team with a purpose. They raise awareness and pay tribute to military members and their families through their Vettes for Vets program.
Veterans, wounded soldiers as well as active duty members, and their families are invited to a free day of racing, lunch and a ton of entertainment. “We are hoping to acquire more funding for the team, so we can expand on our program. We have been flying under the radar for years now and would love to give it wings. Freedom is not free. We need to show these men and women our appreciation for their service.”
Dina is a woman following her dreams. She has reinvented herself, more than once, and continues to just go for it. “Life is not a dress rehearsal. You get one ticket, and I’m using mine until it expires!”