Eddie and Lisa Bolton, with 3-year-old Lindsay, the youngest of their three daughters, don’t often race against each other but both have been highly successful as drag racers based out of their home track, Maryland International Speedway. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

While most of the crowd at Maryland International Raceway reveled in the deafening noise, the fire blazing out of exhaust pipes and the suspense down on the drag strip, the future Lisa Bolton sat unenthused in the stands. She wanted to race like her boyfriend.

So after the race, Eddie Bolton put her in the driver’s seat. Lisa took the steering wheel and accelerated to 80 mph down the drag strip.

It was 1992. “That was my first time down the track and after that I was hooked,” Lisa said.

Sunday, with their three daughters standing near the start line, Eddie and Lisa Bolton will try to each bring home a $5,000 purse at the International Hot Rod Association’s inaugural Summit Sportsman Spectacular at the Mechanicsville track where both their racing careers started.

“It’s amazing that both of us have been successful,” Lisa said. “I don’t think he ever thought his girlfriend at the time would ever get involved in racing.

“But it’s turned into a nice family thing. . . . All the family comes. ”

Growing up in Upper Marlboro, Eddie and Lisa attended Frederick Douglass High but knew very little about each other. A few years after graduating from high school, the two exchanged pleasantries at a social gathering. A friendship was about to blossom.

On his way home that night, Eddie was a passenger in a car accident. He was rushed to the hospital where he required stitches for a cut in his forehead. While waiting for the doctors to tend to his injuries, Eddie made a phone call. Shortly thereafter, Lisa had arrived to his room.

Soon afterward, Lisa accompanied Eddie to the track. By 1992, she had grown tired of her role as bystander. After Eddie gave Lisa her first lesson, the couple competed against other cars and each other, splitting four races head-to-head before marrying on Dec. 27, 1997.

In 2002, Maryland International Raceway held its first IHRA Pro-Am race. Funds were tight at the time for the newlyweds — their first daughter, Alyssa, was 1 year old. However, since the track was seven miles from their house, Eddie could afford the $150 entry fee to pursue his dream of making it on the professional IHRA circuit, where he made his debut the year before.

On the first day of qualifying, Eddie thought he wasted his money. On the second day, however, he advanced to the finals in the hot rod division in his 1967 Barracuda. Eddie won $2,000 in his first Pro-Am event.

Shortly thereafter, Eddie got a call from his best friend to encourage him to chase the circuit. Back home after the conversation, he told Lisa, “I think we’re going to go to Buffalo in two months.”

She responded: “Well, is there a class that I can run in? I want to race, too.”

Eddie changed the cylinder heads, intakes and carburetors on Lisa’s 1968 Dodge Charger to meet requirements of the stock eliminator division. The weekend before the race in New York, the two took the car for a test run at Colonial Beach Dragway. Lisa entered a bracket race and won $600, which funded their trip to New York.

The fact that Lisa’s blue Dodge Charger showed up without any sponsor stickers on it fooled her competitors. They didn’t know she was a woman with racing experience in a male-dominated sport.

By the time the finals rolled around, Lisa had proven she belonged with everyone else: She and Eddie won their respective divisions.

“I turned to her [on the way home] and said, ‘We can’t stop now. There’s not going to be any what if’s. There’s too much of an opportunity here,’ ” Eddie said. “If we had to put the expenses on a credit card, we would just so we didn’t have to look back and say, ‘What if.’ ”

By the end of 2002, Eddie had won the IHRA hot rod world championship. The couple had established themselves in the upper echelon of their respective classes by their fifth wedding anniversary.

After being a bystander, “it’s different to go down the tracks,” Lisa said. “And to win, it’s nice.”

Last year, Lisa, now 39, won the IHRA circuit’s stock eliminator division. This season, she leads the class with 311 points. Eddie, 41, who is in sixth place in hot rods with 197 points, is hoping to improve after a rough start to the season. This Sunday, the couple expects to win in front of their family and friends.

“I always want to get past the first round, but it would be nice win at the local track, especially since it’s the first one of its kind,” Lisa said. “That would be great.”