Women in Stock Car Racing
Women don't belong in racing.....A Women in a Man's World.....Women Drivers have their heads in the clouds. And I'm sure the Women in Racing have heard worse. It's simple, many Men don't think Women can drive and shouldn't race. In all my research for this article, I got so many responses and stories, some were predictable and others surprising. I was very surprised to hear that in 2006, the King himself Richard Petty said, "Women shouldn't be in racing because they can't compete with men." The Car doesn't know who is driving it but everyone else does and that myth of the Women Driver probably will never go away. When Janet Guthrie made her first trip into Indy's Gasoline Alley in 1976, women weren't allowed to be in the pits, including wives and children. Women were nothing more than "window dressing" in victory lane. Along the way, she was called every derogatory name that man had devised to describe women.
Before I get into the great female racers of today, we owe a huge amount of gratitude to the following female racers, among others of course, who made many sacrifices and no doubt put up with a lot of criticism. Fortunately for the women racing today, these ladies broke down gender barriers and helped to show women are just as capable as the men in motor sports.
-Sara Christian was the first woman driver in NASCAR history. She competed in NASCAR's first race on June 19, 1949 at Charlotte Speedway.
-Shirley Muldowney is known as the "First Lady of Drag Racing", is a pioneer in professional racing. She was the first woman to receive a license from the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) to drive a top fuel dragster. She won the NHRA Top Fuel championship in 1977, 1980 and 1982. She has won a total of 18 NHRA national events.
-Janet Guthrie was invited in 1976 to test a car for the Indianapolis 500. That year, she also became the first woman to compete in a NASCAR Winston Cup super speedway stock car race. The next year she became the first woman to qualify for and compete in the Indianapolis 500, where she finished ninth and she was also first woman and Top Rookie at the Daytona 500 in the same year.
-Louise Smith is known as the first lady of racing and first raced at Daytona 1949. She raced from 1946 to 1956. She won 38 races in her career in numerous formats: late models, modifieds (28 victories), midgets, and sportsman.
-Ethel Mobley was tied for the second female to drive in NASCAR history along with Louise Smith in 1949. She raced in over 100 NASCAR Modified events in her career. Part of the racing Flock family, three of her brothers are considered to be NASCAR pioneers: Tim Flock, Fonty Flock and Bob Flock.
-Lyn St. James started her racing career in 1973 with the Amateur Sports Car Club of America. Her first race at the Brickyard took place in 1992 and she won Indianapolis 500 Rookie of The Year (first woman to win). In all Lyn had 7 Indianapolis 500 starts in 9 years and she set a world record on closed-course for women reaching 225.722 mph during the 1995 Indy 500 qualification weekend.
-Michelle Mouton is a former French rally driver. She is the most successful and well-known female rally driver of all time, and is arguably the most successful female in motor racing as a whole. In North America she is not as well known but she truly gives inspiration to many up and coming female drivers in Europe.
-Shawna Robinson began her racing career in 1984 in the GATR Truck Series, winning rookie of the year honors. She began racing NASCAR in 1988 and set two NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division track records and was the first woman in NASCAR history to win a pole position in the NASCAR Goodys Dash Series. Robinson was also the first woman to win a NASCAR touring event. She raced in the Great American Truck Racing series, the NASCAR Goodys Dash Series, the Auto Racing Club of America (ARCA), the NASCAR Busch Series, and the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.
-Kelly Williams became the first female driver to capture a win in the 14-year history of CASCAR racing. In her rookie season in Canada's top stock car series, Williams was victorious in a qualifying heat race at Delaware Speedway Park. She also raced successfully locally for many years.
This is just a sampling of a few of the pioneers for women in the sport. There are many hundreds more and if you would like to view the list, check here! When I first started researching for the article, my focus was strictly on the female racers that participate in Ontario. I widened the scope when I found many Ontario girls are racing in the U.S.A. I took it one step further to get a feel for Women in Racing and interviewed a few stars that race In Nascar series south of the border. This is their story!
Ha Ha...you got beat by a girl. That seemed to be the popular reaction that I received from many female racers. Several asked not to be named, perhaps worried about retribution. Several girls told me that they overhear the guys saying, "How could you let her beat you...she's not very good." A few told me, "I've been told women don't belong behind the wheel of a race car, they belong in the kitchen, or she ain't good for nothing other than being at home." Although most of those I interviewed say the guys treat them pretty good, they were instances where that wasn't the case. It's too bad women are stereotyped that way but that's the way it is in many things in life, it's going to happen. Not everyone has the same beliefs but some guys will never get past, "The Good Ole' Boys Routine", that racing is a Men's only Club. Being male and around racing for so long, I have heard that more than once and that's what I set out to find in this article. I also wanted to bring Recognition to the past, present and future stars of the local racing scene. I'm not out to trash males or females, I just want everyone to know what it's like and some of the things being said.
Brittanica Howell who races a Thunder Car at Flamboro Speedway told me, "Men don't intimidate me, but I do believe they treat some race women different like we are not capable, because we are women". Others told me a lot of intimidation goes on but many are subtle about it and try and make it not so noticeable. Most agreed that if you treat them the same and race them rough, they usually back off. One response I really liked, "When I'm on the track, it doesn't matter that I'm a chick, I'm a Race Car driver. Nobody intimidates me, if people hit me I just hit them back". One driver told me her first few years were really tough. She got hit or spun almost every race but they realized after a while that she couldn't be intimidated and they eventually backed off. Something she said really stuck with me however, "Most male racers think that female drivers are just a novelty, which is true sometimes. But in most cases female drivers are just as competitive and talented as male racers. Male drivers also judge and criticize the driving of females more harshly". She also said, "If a female driver and a male driver made the same aggressive move on the track, no one would think twice about the males move but the female would be unfairly labeled and called a weapon or bad driver."
I also spoke to 16 other female drivers and asked them questions on their careers in racing, myths about Women in Racing and how they were treated by their male counterparts. They seemed for the most part, to agree that most men were very professional and other than a few instances, they were treated equally. In no particular order this is what they had to say,
Tabatha Murphy Brockville Speedway #66 Sportsman Division
Favorite Nascar Driver : Kyle Busch
Tabatha has been around racing most of her life. Her main influence was her father, Ralph who has been involved in drag racing for as long as she could remember. Growing up she had a little karting experience but her break came at the age of 15. Her father and Chico Dingwall saw some potential and asked her if she would like to race in the Sportsman's division for Dingwall Motorsports. She said, "When Chico Dingwall gave me the opportunity, I couldn't pass it up." Now in her fifth year she has raced at Merrittville, Brighton, Cornwall and Brockville Speedways. Each year she has had perfect attendance and has 5 heat wins and many other great finishes under her belt.
Early on she faced some "different" treatment from male drivers. She was "young and new," and had comments from males and females telling her to her face and behind her back, "Girls don't race so get off the track." Her boyfriend, Josh Kane, who also races in the Sportsman division at Brockville and many of the other drivers are now some of her closest friends.
Her goal for 2010 is to win a feature. "I have some pretty rough and tough competition out there but I think I'm due for a big win." She didn't expect to be a professional racer in her first couple of years and she is learning a lot and getting better fast. She tells me she hopes to become the next Jessica Zemken. She also wanted to thank her sponsors that have supported her over the past 5 years, also her father Ralph and especially the fans. She says she wouldn't be where she is without people cheering her on!
Samantha Jansen ASA Late Model Series
Favorite Nascar Driver : Kyle Busch/Kasey Kahne
I remember the first time I saw Samantha race. It was her first year in a Canadian Vintage Modified. She was only 14 and was very shy and quiet. I remember she had trouble with the clutch but overcame that quickly and now she has developed into one of the premiere female drivers in Canada. She began her racing career like many young racers in go karts, at the age of 12. The story behind it was kind of funny. She told me, "I had a paper route when I was a kid and I wanted a go kart so I could do it faster" and the rest as they say is history! Her dad knew one of the drivers in CVM and she tested one and later that year, at the age of 14, she was behind the wheel. Her dad is a mechanic so Samantha was around cars all of her life. As she gained more experience in karting she gained awards like most improved driver, best appearing kart and most sportsmanlike driver. She had numerous wins at the Waterloo Regional Kart Club in the Jr. Teen Class, at the Toronto Kart Club in the Jr. Pro Class (including winning a 1 hour Ironman or Ironwoman Enduro race), at Simcoe Kart Club in the Jr. Light Class and at Batavia New York in the Jr. Light Class.
When she moved into the Canadian Vintage Modifieds she gained experience quickly. She raced with the hobby club for the next few years winning numerous races and various awards such as most improved driver, best pit crew and most popular driver. She was always a big draw at autograph night and she had many young female admirers like my two daughters. The fact that she drove an all Pink car with Tweety Bird and Tinker Bell on it sure didn't hurt her popularity with fans young and old. For the next few years Samantha ran a limited race schedule as she gained a bachelor's degree in Architecture-Project and Facility Management, graduating at the top of her class. The 23 year old Cambridge native is currently employed as a project manager full time and a Remax Real Estate agent, Part Time. After school was finished she had more time for racing again and took a new challenge and took the pink car to the Vintage Racing Organization of America circuit with cars like the CVM that race at tracks around Michigan like Berlin, Dixie, Owosso, Autocity and a few others. She had a successful season in 2008 and finished 2nd in points. This past season she was on fire all summer and she won every race except one on her way to the 2009 VROA Championship, at the same time becoming the winningest female in the VROA's history as well as the first female to win the Club Championship.
With all this experience and success I asked her about the myth in auto racing that because you are a female, sponsorships are easier to get. She told me, "Sponsors are hard to get and I think it has a LOT to do with who you know. But I would have to agree that if anything, I think I have an advantage as a unique aspect in the motor sports world." She also told me she has been very lucky so far that the divisions she has raced that every one was great and she has never had any problems. "The guys in the VROA were amazing." They joked about getting beat by a girl but that was it.
With the 2010 race season not far off Samantha is ready for her new challenge. This past November, Brock Motor-sports announced that Samantha would be there driver in the ASA Late Model Series. Good luck in 2010 Samantha, I have no doubt you will be successful! She will also be racing once again in the VROA and driving Rick Warnes modified at Delaware Speedway.
Lisa DeLeeuw Flamboro Speedway #84 Mini Stocks
Lisa DeLeeuw was born and raised around racing. The DeLeeuw name has been prominent around racing circles in Ontario and especially at Flamboro Speedway as long as I can remember. Harold, Ding, Jeremy and her dad Mike have also raced at Flamboro. Harold and Ding raced Hobby Cars (CVM) in the 70's and 80's and Jeremy and his wife Nina raced CVM as well. Lisa said when her Uncle stopped, "I told my dad it was my turn!" Her dad Mike finished 12th in points last season in his rookie season. Lisa has been racing Mini Stocks at Flamboro since 2005. She has improved every year, she finished 18th in points in 2008 and improved to the top10 in 2009 with a 9th place finish. She also gained her first heat win in her first full year of racing in the car by herself. I understand she has a new race car for 2010 and she is hoping to improve even more. She is shooting for a top 5 finish this year. She also hopes to get a few more wins, she wants to make her dad proud. She said, "Male racers do treat women racers differently. As I've been told women don't belong behind the wheel of a race car but they belong in the kitchen. Out on the track most male drivers try to intimidate but some female drivers won't put up with it but I've noticed once you treat them they way they have been treating you they back off."
Crystal Doucette Barrie Speedway #33 4 Cylinder Pure Stock Division
Favorite Nascar Driver - Kyle Busch
Like the first two girls, Crystal became interested in racing at an early age due to her father's involvement in the sport. At an early age her dad, Dave, raced derby cars and in train races (like the ones at Varney Speedway) and in 2002 began racing at Barrie Speedway. She said, "As soon as I seen him out on the track and the speed and thrill of racing cars I knew I wanted to be in one." So at the age of 15, her dad and a supportive crew built her a four cylinder mustang. In 2007, Crystal finished 7th in points and was the top female racer. In 2008, she was 2nd in the Nascar Whelen Series at Barrie, 3rd in Barrie Speedway points and won the hard charger awarded to the driver who can start at the back of the pack and consistently make their way to the front. This past season, her rookie season in the four cylinder division, Crystal placed a very respectable 5th place.
Crystal told me she hasn't experienced being passed over because she is a girl but said many people were surprised she raced and assumed she wasn't any good until they came out to watch and seen otherwise. She also echoed the comments of others when it came to the myth of sponsorships easier to get because she is female. "I think it is difficult for anyone to get a sponsor due to the economy today. However if the myth is true, I think it would be because people find it interesting when they are approached by a female racer for a sponsorship and it strikes their interest." As far as intimidation she said that in her second year, "One male racer in particular ran her and the three other females at Barrie Speedway dirty, trying to spin us out and bump us off the track. He ran the male drivers fairly clean but for people with big egos it would be embarrassing for them to get past by a girl." Crystal will be attending college this year and right now school comes first. She said if sponsorship comes her way she will race but if not she will be taking the next two seasons off. She won't be to far from the racing scene however, her boyfriend Jeff Walt races the #31 Late Model at Sunset and dad Dave Doucette races the #44 Thunder Car at Barrie. She also lends a hand where needed to Dave Glaze who will race her #33 Pro Stock car in her absence.
She asked if anyone is looking to sponsor you can email her at : email@example.com
Kathleen Hosang Delaware Speedway #16 DEMAR Aggregates Trucks
Favorite Nascar Driver - None
Growing up Kathleen wasn't really interested in motor sports. Although her dad was a road racer (Formula 4, Formula 2000, ice racing & indoor go-karts) for 15 years. Her first visit to a track was when she was just 10 weeks old. Her dad wanted Kathleen and her younger sister Valerie to get into racing but they weren't interested. She told me, "I remember asking him to quit because it was dangerous!" A family friend had a son who raced CASCAR Junior, and she eventually agreed to try it out. "After driving his car I wanted my own," she said. She began her racing career at age 14 and raced in the Junior Racing League (formerly CASCAR Junior) at Delaware Speedway from 2002-2005. During the years of 2003 to 2005 she also raced JCAR (Junior Canadian Auto Racing) which traveled to Varney, Peterborough, Flamboro, Grand Bend, Barrie, Sauble, Kawartha and a few others. She won Sportsperson of the Year in the JRL in 2004. 2006 was her first season at Delaware Speedway in the truck division.
When asked about how male drivers race her she said, "They definitely try (to intimidate) but it's hard to say whether it is because I'm female or because of my clean driving style. They think that because I prefer not to bump or hit people out of my way, I can be taken advantage of on the track." She also felt that it may be to the advantage of a female to get sponsors because they are still relatively rare and somewhat novel. "Having said that, we still have to work hard to obtain sponsorship and it is still extremely important to maintain relationships with the sponsors we have." Look for Kathleen at Delaware in 2010 for her 5th season. She wants to race as long as time and money permit.
Samantha Erin Shaw Flamboro Speedway #88 (#81 for 2010) Mini Stocks
Favorite Driver and idol is Danica Patrick
Favorite Nascar Driver - Jimmie Johnson/Kyle Busch
If you love racing and ever get a chance to race a car, don't let it pass you by. That's what Samantha Shaw did. She has been around racing all of her life. The Shaw name has been very prominent on the racing scene in Ontario for over 50 years. Her grandfather Ron began his racing career in 1958. Samantha at 14 years of age, along with her cousin Dale Shaw, became the 8th and 9th member of the Shaw family to race stock cars. (I am currently working on a separate story on the 50+ years history of the Shaw's in racing)
Samantha didn't have a lot of racing background but being around the track all the time she realized it was something she could do. When I asked her about her racing background she said, "There's nothing to say because I've never raced before in my life. When they say 'Rookie Season' they really mean it." Ken Spira who is a mini stock driver at Flamboro and a big supporter and sponsor of many of the Shaw racers saw something in Samantha and taught her to drive a manual car and drive figure 8's and start and stop constantly. She got the chance and took advantage and has become a very good racer. I really noticed the difference as the 2009 season progressed as she gained experience and her goal is to be the most improved driver in 2010 and finish in the top 10 in points. She will have her own car so she will be racing a full schedule. Her long term goal is to race a late model or a Canadian Vintage Modified like her Uncles who have numerous track championships. As far as rough drivers etc. she told me that she is friends with a lot of the other racers and it was fun. She feels that racing sponsorship should be based on your ability not your gender.
When she's not at the track her other loves is horses. She has been involved with horses most of her life. She has competed in a few shows and can't see her life without them. She definitely has that competitive spirit and know how behind her to be successful. For 2010, Sam will be racing her own car and will be sporting a new number, 81, just like her grandfather and uncle. On practice day recently she was burning up the track so it should be a very interesting season!
Michelle Koricina Delaware Speedway #99 DEMAR Aggregates Trucks
Favorite Nascar Driver - Jeff Burton
Michelle got her start in racing at Grand Bend Speedway. At the age of 13 she began racing mini sprints and did so for 6 very successful seasons until she moved up to the truck series at Delaware Speedway in 2009. Some of her accomplishments included Jr. C Champion and Rookie of the Year in 2003, Ladies 9hp Points Champion and Rookie of the Year with 8 feature wins, 3rd place in 9hp Sprints in 2006 & 2007 and with 9 feature wins in 2009 giving her the 9hp Mod. Sprint Points Championship.
She keeps busy all the time either in a race truck, snowmobile or four wheeler, she always liked to drive and a need for speed!
In 2009 at Delaware, she had a very successful rookie season with 3 heat wins to give her an 8th place finish in the point standings, 2nd place points in the CSRA Trailsport Women's Division and the Rookie of the Year title in the truck division. She told me the male drivers were a little tough at first. "I think this year being my first year at Delaware they tried to lay it out the first few races to show me who the track vets. are but you just have to push back as hard as they do and they will get the hint." She also told me a few people, who don't know her, assume because she is a women racer that automatically she is terrible. She also said, "I would say that it's good and bad. If I get in a wreck or something happens on the track it is easier for people to put the blame to the girls because they are 'Women' drivers." She will begin her 2nd season at Delaware this April and her goal is to get that first feature win. The team is adding a second truck that her brother Matt will be driving. Anyone interested in sponsoring the Koricina team is welcome to contact her! Good luck in 2010!!
Jenn May Capital City Speedway #14 Mini Stocks
Favorite Nascar Driver - None
Jenn has always Loved Cars! She has been around cars along time working with her fiancée in Autovation Inc., an 8 bay, 5,000 square foot repair shop located on Sweetnam Drive in Stittsville near Ottawa. "He is my biggest supporter and advertiser!" She started her racing career 3 seasons ago in the 4 for Fun series. She told me that in her first year of racing, "No one knew how to drive so it was a messy class. It was non contact but it was rough and it was hard to tell if it was specific to me." She races in the Mini Stock division and has many friends and she said they were amazing to her. She told me that she probably doesn't have any problems because of her courteous driving and she doesn't block anyone. However, she doesn't expect any special treatment, "So if I get in the way I get bumped," she said. She said the drivers at Capital City for the most part are great. She only races Capital City Speedway currently. She told me she wanted to Thank all the people that help her because without all those friends helping her, she wouldn't have this opportunity. She and her team are currently building a new car for 2010 so she is hoping for a top 10, or better, in the Mini Stock points race. She said, "I would love to one day have a Late Model, but not until I'm ready. I also plan to try the BMW schools at the Calabogie Circuit Track in Ottawa." I joke with her occasionally, I'm a huge Toronto Maple Leaf fan and she is a huge Ottawa Senators fan....need I say more. If you ever get the chance to go to the new and improved Capital City Speedway, make sure you cheer nice and loud for Jenn!!
Holly Porter #1 Outlaw Micro Sprint Division Wonderland Speedway London, Ontario
Holly started racing in 1998 at the age of 10. Her dad is a former Super Late Model driver. Holly, along with her brother Darrell and sister Alana have all raced micros and Jr. micros and go-karts. Her brother races the #8 truck at Delaware Speedway.
At first she told me, her dad wouldn't let her race but after a few years she convinced him to change his mind. She started in Junior Micro Sprints at Lonestar Speedway and Nature's Finest, which are now both closed. Some of her career highlights include winning the 2003 Points Championship at Grand Bend Speedway, 2008 Summer Series Points Champion at Tillsonburg Indoor Speedway, 2008 Outlaw Points Championship at Wonderland and Spring Series Championship at Tillsonburg and the 2009 Spring Series Championship at Tillsonburg. I asked her about being treated different by the guys and she told me, "I would say most of the guys on the track don't care that they race with a girl and they don't seem to treat me any different than any other driver." A very talented driver, and also very shy and quiet I am told. As far as 2010 goes, she plans on continuing to race at Wonderland and Tillsonburg and try to win as many races as possible and aim for the points championships.
) Alison MacLeod #4 USAC Regional Midget Division, ARCA Series, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. Favorite Nascar Driver - None
When I started researching this story, many people told me I had to talk to Alison. They told me about her racing accomplishments along with her determination, talent and intelligence when it came to racing and the marketing of the sport as it applies to women. I quickly found all that out and more. Alison, along with Samantha Jansen are two of the rising young racers to come from Ontario and burst on to the US racing scene. Alison has raced all over the USA and Canada. Karts for 9 years, USAC Midgets for 2 years, USAC Ford Focus for 3 years and with the Can Am Midgets for 1 year where she met her boyfriend James Gray, the Points Champion for 2009 .
She began her racing career at the age of 7 racing with the Waterloo Regional Kart Club. She told me as at first she hated it but after making a few friends it became more fun and after she won that first trophy, "I was hooked. It was 5th place in the B division, I still have the plaque!" She graduated from 4 cycle sprint karts to 80cc shifter karts by age 11. She told me she feels very lucky and when I asked her if she ever felt that she was passed over because she was female, she said No. She was approached by FORD before she even realized that there was a possibility of making racing a career. By the age of 13 she had signed with FORD Racing and has been with them ever since. With her success however she did say that as she moves up the ladder, sponsorship is harder to get due to the fact of how much is needed, but suspects all drivers, male or female are having the same struggles. Alison was given the opportunity to showcase her talent in the Ford Racing Sponsored Driver Development Program managed and operated by renowned open wheel car builder Bob East, of B. East chassis. Competing in the USAC Ford Focus division Alison scored her first victory in 2005, just 3-weeks after her 16th birthday. She has a tremendous success, just check her website for her career highlights. Alison again proved herself in 2009 with another successful season in the USAC Regional Midget Division. Alison scored 2 victories in her first Regional Midget season, along with 2 more victories in 2009. Alison continues to hold the title of USAC's Winningest Female Driver in history.
I quickly got a lesson on her intelligence and marketing when I asked her about the Myth that because she was a women, sponsors are easy to get. She told me, "This isn't true. As a marketing student I know the value of demographics and promotions. Even though 40% of racing fans are women, they are not 'typical' women. There are only a few products that can be marketed in that direction. Sponsors have 2 options, market gender specific products with a female to a female OR the route Danica Patrick has taken, to market products to men through sex! Sexy women to sell products to males. Not all female drivers have the look to do such a thing and those that do may not want to take that route." She continued, "On the other hand, in some cases, it may be easier as most females get much more media attention when running well. Therefore more media, more companies willing to pay more money....so I guess it can go both ways, depending on the type of marketing the company is after."
I also asked if she ever felt intimidated by male racers or raced rough. "I have only had 2 instances of that in my entire career. Both were taken care of in a manner that will ensure they will not be doing it again!" I found out how competitive she is. "I am extremely competitive in everything that I do, and I mean EVERYTHING! I can make a race out of anything and usually do!"
On her Facebook fan page she posted what 'Racing Means to Me'. I thought it was interesting and shows how much she loves motor sports. Here are a few highlights,
-I eat, Sleep, Breathe, Think and Dream about racing. There isn't one question you can ask me that doesn't come back to racing.
-When driving on the street I always drive on the "line" no matter where I go
-I named my Pets Victory and Hoosier
-My bedroom at home has Checkered wallpaper
-I own something checkered for every possible thing, shoes, shorts, shirts, earrings, sunglasses etc.
-When I sign my Visa receipts I always include my number (oops LOL)
Now that is addicted! I also asked who her favorite Nascar driver is and she responded, "Ahh, I hate this question. I don't have one....and here's why. I respect Jimmie Johnson for what he has done, I've always liked Jeff Gordon as well, I also like Carl Edwards, however I don't have a favorite and wouldn't consider any my hero. I don't want to be like them...I want to be ME!!! I dream to be a competitor of theirs and I respect them and enjoy their accomplishments. One day I would love to go head to head with them and love it even more when I beat them!!" She may get that chance someday soon. For 2010, although still not confirmed, she hopes to move up to race the ARCA series, but it is pending on sponsorship. She did some testing at Daytona Speedway and last word still was in negotiations for at least one race season. Nascar Canadian Tire series is also a potential, again pending sponsorship and possibly some more midgets.
Alison also has her own photography business called MacLeod Designs and Photography. She gets to mix her passion for photography with racing and Design. She creates hero cards for herself and other drivers, when she's not racing she takes photos of other racers and was the official photographer for the Can Am Midgets last year. She does studio photography and opened her own studio. For more info, go to www.macleoddesigns.ca
Caley Weese Brighton Speedway #77 Pro Stocks Favorite Nascar Driver - None, Caley is on the right in the above picture.
Caley began her racing career at age 15. She didn't come from a family with a long career in the sport like many, so it was a big learning curve she told me. Her dad did take her to races and she got hooked. She wanted to start racing in the enduro. cars and after a lot of convincing, that's what she did. After a few enduro. races she bought her first car and raced in Brighton Speedway's Comp 4 division. She raced that series for 2 years and then moved up to the Pro Stock Division and ran both divisions in 2007 before moving to Pro Stocks full time. Caley has raced Edelweiss Autodrome, Brockville, Cornwall, Merrittville, Peterborough and Brighton Speedways. Some of her accomplishments include, Best Appearing Car 3 times, Most Consistent Driver 2 times, 2004 Comp 4 Championship, Rollover Award and the only person to ever race 2 cars in 2 divisions on the same night for an entire season (2007), 2007 2nd overall in Comp4, 2008 4th overall in Pro Stock, 2009 3rd overall in Pro Stock and 1st place overall Eastern Ontario Stock Car. She also races Snowcross all over Ontario. Highlights include, 2nd overall Trailsport and a 3rd and 4th overall in Sport Women.
I asked if she felt over looked by sponsors. "I think it is a challenge for most drivers to get sponsors. I have a lot of sponsors and worked really hard at it. And a lot of people say no. Most sponsors think girls just get money handed to them, which is not the case. When approaching new sponsors, I don't think they feel I am as serious about what I'm doing , as I am. Most people think Daddy put the little girl in the car because he wanted her to race and that is not the case at all on our team. I couldn't do it without my dad, but it wasn't his idea." She also disagreed with the myth that sponsors are easier to get. "It's a guys sport and it always will be, due to that guys will always be favored." She also said the guys try to intimidate her, "Try is the key word. I've raced several tracks in the series races where I was the only girl and I loved it. They only try for a little while." In 2010, Caley will be racing a new car, a 2007 Bob Pierce Late Model in the Pro Late Model Division at Brighton and Can Am Speedway located near La Fargeville, New York. Long term she would love to race for a living, but that opportunity hasn't come along yet.
Jamie Horner #14 Limited Late Model Peterborough, Kawartha & Sunset Speedway
Favorite NASCAR Driver - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
This year Jamie will be entering her third year racing a Limited Late Model and first year in a Late Model. She has been attending stock car races every weekend since the age of three or four with her dad. She began her racing career at Mosport Speedway at age 8 when she raced go karts. She race at Mosport until age 12 and finished in the Jr. Lite division. She started racing cars at age 14 at Peterborough Speedway in the Thunder Car Division. Some of her accomplishments to date was winning Rookie of the Year at Kawartha and Peterborough in her first year of Thunder Cars. She also took the Rookie honors in her first year racing Limited Late Models at Kawartha. This past season she finished 3rd in Late Model Points at Peterborough Speedway.
Jamie told me, "I would say that I have had difficulties because I am a girl because it doesn't matter how much talent I have people always assume that I have to cheat in order to finish in the top of the field." The accusations are very difficult to deal with because Jamie knows she is capable of beating all the guys in the field. "In my first few years of racing I had to deal with a lot of sexist comments about how girls simply aren't aggressive enough to compete against men. I was pushed out and stuffed into the wall on many occasions for no reason", she said. "There are some male drivers who simply don't have the same respect for female drivers that they do for the guys. The male drivers dont intimidate me, I actually think that it is the other way around. Female drivers who are good pose a threat to male drivers on more then one level. Many guys see it as an embarrassment to lose to a girl even though she is better than them. I have been called many terrible things by other racers over the years but i have learned that it comes with the territory. My six years of racing has taught me to take any negative criticism and use it to fuel myself to becoming a better driver." The long term goals for 2010 are to run a few ACT Late Model races and work on getting more sponsorship and a pit crew that is more then just my dad and me. Good Luck Jamie!!
Kristi Wolfe Murie #25 Thunder Car Sunset Speedway. Favorite NASCAR Driver - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Known around the track as "Tough as Nails", Kristi has a new challenge ahead of her for 2010. First of all, Sunset Speedway has and still has some major renovations as the track was torn up and replaced. And foremost, she became a new mom last October and now will have to find the balance between racing and a new mother. She told me her plans are to race this season but she will see how it goes. She began her racing career in 2000 at Varney Speedway in the Women on Wheels division and after 2 years she moved up to the Street Stock class. In 2004 she joined the Thunder Car division at Sunset Speedway where she has raced ever since. After years of being a racing fan her dad offered to build her a car. "My dad was my biggest influence as well as supporter and biggest fan. Now my biggest fans are my husband Scott and step mom Dawn, as my dad has passed away."
Some of her accomplishments include lots of heat wins and 4 feature wins. She also has won best appearing car twice, most improved once, and most sportsmanlike 4 years in a row. Kristi finished 15th in her first year at Sunset but has improved to 5th, 6th, 5th, 5th in the years since. Her crew consists of Scott, Dawn and the Wild Child Racing team. Sponsors so far for 2010 are GD Auto and The Dizzy Gastro Sports Pub.Good luck Kristi, hope to see you back full time in 2010!
Melinda Thomas #66 Mini Stock Sunset Speedway. Favorite NASCAR Driver - None
"You can't take it with you when you leave this world, so make every effort to take full advantage of what life has to offer." Those are words Melinda lives by and her grandfather always taught her to go for her dreams. Well racing was one of those dreams. Growing up, Melinda along with her brother and dad would race go-karts, snowmobiles and motor cycles. But it wasn't until 4 or 5 years ago that Melinda got involved in racing again and because of a friendship she started to work herself into the driver's seat and living her dream. But that dream almost had a tragic ending.
In 1998 and again in 1999, Melinda was nearly killed when she was involved in a very serious accident when a mechanical failure left her with no brakes or steering whatsoever $6. "God or someone was watching over me that night and I survived it, so the first year I raced in 2008 was a scary thing." That year she raced a 1998 Ford Probe and unfortunately the car broke down a lot and she didn't do so well. Bill Campbell, a "very special person" asked her to race his car, 1991 Honda Civic, and in 2009 and Melinda placed 26th out of 70 cars and she raced pretty much every other weekend.
Born and raised in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, Melinda has worked for over 20 years as a buyer in the manufacturing industry to running an office. Currently she goes to school at Georgian College in Barrie studying Digital Photography and Imaging Full Time and expects to graduate in April of this year and plans to have her own photography business specializing in sports, portraits, and commercial work. "Eventually I would like to go back to school and get my Master Of Fine Arts. My kids, my photography and my racing are my passions and loves in my life, and my Sunset Speedway family means the world to me."
This year Melinda hopes to do well and be competitive and win her first official checkered flag. She won a race last year but it was by default. Sunset Speedway is currently going through some changes with a completely new racing surface among other improvements and Melinda says everyone will start out as rookies again getting used to the new track.Still among only a few female racers at the track, Melinda tells me she hasn't has any problems with anyone. "People there treat me with respect and dignity and most of them are my friends on and off the track." As far as sponsors for the 2010 season, of course the car owner Bill Campbell and William Major, California Dave, and she is currently working on getting a couple of more, including one she told me was a secret! Good luck in 2010!!
Megan Reitenour #92 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
Favorite NASCAR Driver - Tony Stewart. Top 3 Racing heroes - Lyn St. James, Tony Stewart, Toby Alfrey (her crew chief on the Legend car and ARCA Trucks)
Megan Reitenour's name probably is not to familiar to many Canadian race fans but don't forget it. She is one of the next star's on the horizon and if her recent success and family history has anything to do with it, she will be a big star before long. A third generation racer, Megan grew up in Miamisburg, Ohio. Her Father was a quarter midget driver and her daredevil grandfather drove in races across the USA. He goes to the track to watch his granddaughter race whenever possible. Megan's racing career began at the age of 2, in her Pink Barbie Corvette car. Her dad would put pillows under her and behind her back so she could reach the pedals. By the age of 4 she was racing quad runners, then quarter midgets the following year, racking up some very impressive finishes. She progressed to Legend Cars in 2006 finishing in the top 10 in 24 of 26 races. She then stepped into the ARCA Lincoln Welder Truck Series and then she moved up to the Super Cup Stock Car Series winning the inaugural race. The 18 year old was the 2008 Super Cup Series Rookie of the Year and was the only driver in the series to win 3 races and finished a mere 7 points behind the winner Ryan Miller. The cars are powered by 600 hp V8 engines and race mainly in the Eastern United States. She was selected to participate in the 2008 Drive for Diversity Testing & Evaluation Combine. Her performance at the Combine earned her a spot in the 2009 Driver for Diversity class. She drove for Leicht Motor-sports in the 2009 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Tri County Speedway in Hudson, N.C. She was only 1 of 12 drivers in the U.S. to be selected for the program. She had an impressive season with 7 top 5 finishes, 16 top ten finishes in 17 events and won Rookie of the Year honors. In her 14 years of racing she has over 200 wins and 7 championships.
She told me, "As everyone knows there isn't many females in Stock Car Racing but NASCAR and many team owners are making great strides at getting minorities and females in the upper levels of stock car racing." She felt the myth of women getting an easy ride in the sponsorship race. "That Myth is completely FALSE. If anything I think it is harder. Women have to prove themselves. We can't just go out there and finish top 10. We have to go out there and get wins and get championships so that people will recognize you and your name will get out there and just maybe a sponsor will jump on board. I do believe though that sponsors will get, I guess you could say 'More Bang for Your Buck' sponsoring a female driver because in any series you look at, for example ARCA Series, look at how much more the females get on camera and noticed when they are running well." I asked her about male drivers running her rough and she said, "No male drivers drive me like I drive them. When we get in the race car and put helmets on you can't tell if we're a girl or guy. We're all going for that win. I try to give drivers respect and hopefully in return they give me the same." Her goals for 2010 and beyond, "My short term plans are to get as much experience in heavy body stock car so when I do make it up to NASCAR (or IRL) I will be competing for that championship, which is my long term goal."
Jennifer Jo Cobb NASCAR Camping World Truck Series/NASCAR Nationwide Series/ARCA-ReMax Racing Series. Favorite NASCAR Driver - Mike Harmon, David Reutimann, Rick Crawford.
Jennifer Jo Cobb started her racing career in 1991 at the age of 8. She grew up around racing, her dad Joe who has been racing since 1976 and has hundreds of victories and awards and at the age of 63 still competes in the NASCAR Weekly racing series premier Modified Division at Lakeside Speedway's 1/2 mile dirt oval in Kansas City. Jennifer has wanted to race since the age of 8 but began her career at the age of 18 in a 4 cylinder Pony Stock Car at NASCAR's grassroots level at Lakeside Speedway. She had numerous victories and finished in the top ten championship standings every year she competed at Lakeside, Mizzou and I-70 Speedways in Kansas City in the Late Models, Sportsman and Pony stocks series. In 7 career ARCA Re/Max series starts since 2002, she has 3 top 10 finishes including a career best 7th place finish at the Nashville Super Speedway in 2004. Other results included a 9th at Kansas Speedway in 2004, 10th at Chicagoland Speedway in 2004, 16th at Kansas in 2002, 19th at Chicagoland in 2008, 25th at Kansas in 2007 and 33rd at Kansas in 2003. A veteran of late models and Sportsman Late Models and as competed in NASCAR sanctioned Late Models at I-70 Speedway in 2000 and 2001 and included 4 feature wins and a career best 2nd in points for the 2000 season. In total 12 features and over 50 qualifying heat wins. In 2009 she raced in the ARCA/ReMax series, 2 NASCAR Nationwide events and 2 NASCAR Camping World Truck races.
When I interviewed Jennifer I wanted to get an idea of what it was like in a higher level of racing. I asked her if Male drivers race her rough and try to intimidate her, she has a one word answer, "No!" She also felt on an even playing field when I asked her if she felt she had ever been passed over for a sponsorship saying, "No...I think this sport is difficult for everyone. It is a little easier to get a sponsor if you show a uniqueness and being a woman in this sport is unique, however everyone has some sort of uniqueness" She also said, "I think sponsors are hard to come by for everyone. You literally have to contact hundreds of companies before even getting a meeting, it's a numbers game. The harder you work the more successful you will be." Being a unique individual has led Jennifer to many opportunities and garnered her a great deal of attention. She has been interviewed on Speed Channel, ESPN radio and other National outlets like NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox and many others. Off the track Jennifer keeps very busy on the promotion side. She holds an Associates degree in Pre-Journalism and somehow is finding time to work on her broadcasting degree. She co-hosted a TV program on Time Warner Cable's Metro Sports TV called Inside Motor sports. Her fan base and popularity is growing and she gets more attention on Internet Search engines than many of the NASCAR drivers that have been racing for years. She also works for the Richard Petty Race Experience where she logs over 1,000 laps some weekends at many NASCAR sanctioned tracks like Daytona Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Texas Speedway, California Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Miami Homestead Speedway among others. She also finds the time to be a Nationally Registered Speaker at about 50 appearances per year. She has delivered presentations from everything like local schools and community engagements to large corporation and government groups in which she ties her racing experiences to business and life lessons. She focuses on an athletic, healthy and active lifestyle. No Kidding!!
She also is involved in two online companies, www.DriverBoutique.com and www.Drivenmale.com that help fund her racing programs and her goal is they will grow so big that one day she can help other underfunded teams. "So, please buy a shirt!!!" I DID, they are very nice, for males or females.
For the upcoming 2010 racing season Jennifer will race a full schedule in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and a few NASCAR Nation Wide and ARCA/Re/Max events. Her ultimate long term goal is to race at the Sprint Cup Level, she told me, "I've always dreamed big and it's gotten me this far!"
Good luck Jennifer!!!!!
Great Women in Racing Links and Websites
BOOK-Fast Ladies; Female Racing Drivers, 1888-1970. Jean-François Bouzanquet
So that's it, just a small sampling of some of the local very talented Women in Racing. If you are a women in racing please contact me, I would like to add you to the story and also add you do my driver Bio. page. I hope to add you all to the Canadian Racers.com directory as well. Please visit the links and support these ladies and help grow the sport for Women in Racing in general. We all have to realize that they are no longer Just Window Dressing and are some of the greatest stock car racers in and from Ontario!!
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