Meet the Drivers: Colleen Callahan

Summer 2018 was Colleen's first drag boat racing season. She's been a Bad Apples driver since.


Colleen Callahan has held many titles in her life. She's hardworking, determined, generous and, friendly, with a sense of humor that all who know her appreciate. Colleen is the mom of her teenage son, Tyler. Last summer, she officially tied the knot with long-time racer, Brandon Callahan, picking up two new titles: Wife and Step-Mom. Somewhere in between all of that, she also found time to become one of the Northern Illinois Drag Boat Association's (NIDBA) only female drivers.

Bad Apples' driver, Colleen Callahan, returns to the pit at Blarney Island in her TX-19 during the 2019 NIDBA season.

Colleen met Brandon Callahan in 2018, and by the 2019 season, Colleen was behind the wheel of her first boat, a yellow and red TX-19, with Brandon as her coach. "The Lake Racer guys were great!" Colleen shared. "They were as happy to see me out on the water as I was and, even as competitors, didn't hesitate to help me find my way around the course." Competing in the Lake Racer inboard class, Colleen spent her first summer learning drag boat racing basics: putting the TX-19 in gear, rolling up to the starting line, hammering down on the pedal for a full 800 feet, and safely easing out of a full-throttle.


"The Lake Racer guys were great. They were as happy to see me out on the water as I was and, even as competitors, didn't hesitate to help me find my way around the course."

Looking Ahead to the 2022 Season

Colleen eventually blew the TX-19's big block motor, a common casualty from the extreme conditions these boats run in. "The lake can be rough, and we run wide open. The conditions out here at the island can beat these boats up," team captain Ron Silverstein explains. There was the pandemic, a wedding to plan, boys to raise, and health concerns to navigate; the TX-19 was placed on the market and scooped up by a hot boat enthusiast. Colleen looked back fondly at her time on the water and was proud of herself for giving the high-octane sport a try. But, after experiencing the calm moments alone on the water before a race begins and the wind on her face as she hurled down the track, Colleen knew she had to get behind the wheel again. She was a driver, after all.


An opportunity presented itself to pick up a red, pink, and white Eliminator Daytona from a retired NIDBA driver hailing from Northern Wisconsin. On a cold, snowy, December Saturday morning Brandon and Ron trekked up to the old racer's shop and pulled back the boat's cover. While a family of Raccoons had executed their vision for the vinyl interior, the vessel was in excellent condition overall. Colleen had a new whip and her husband a new winter project.


Join Colleen Callahan and the Bad Apples team at Blarney Island for the 2022 season. Races run on Thursday nights starting at 6 PM (Central) Memorial Day through Labor Day in this one-of-a-kind 'brung what ya got' bare-knuckles experience. The NIDBA's Thunder on the Chain is the only drag boat racing series where drivers lay it down 14 weeks in a row in a "street" racing format hosted by world-famous Blarney Island.



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