I was introduced to the sport of auto racing at a very early age. As a youngster, my mother would take me to Stafford (Stafford Motor Speedway – Stafford Springs, CT) to watch my dad race in the Street Stock division. We would go to Stafford on Friday night and I remember spending time sitting in the driver’s seat of his car on Saturday mornings – while the car still sat on the trailer from the night before.
Shortly thereafter, my parents bought a Quarter Midget. I remember the moment through pictures that were taken when they showed my first race car to me on Christmas morning. I had just turned five.
Eventually, my dad gave up driving and concentrated on getting my younger brother and me up to speed at ‘Silver City’ (Meriden, CT) and the ‘Little T’ (Thompson, CT) tracks. I wasn’t very good at first. In fact, my family coined me ‘the little old lady going grocery shopping.’ At some point I overcame my moniker. In the ten years that I drove Quarter Midgets, I collected countless victories, won multiple championships, set six track records and was the recipient of five ‘Driver of the Year’ awards.
At 15 (when a driver’s career in the Quarter Midget ranks is over), we made a family decision to get into bigger, heavier and faster cars. We chose the Pro Four Modified division – a four-cylinder, open-wheeled modified series that toured at tracks all across New England. I spent six years in Pro Fours – winning several features and a Series Championship.
Next came an opportunity to get behind the wheel of a full-blown NASCAR Modified – running weekly at the now defunct Riverside Park Speedway (Agawam, MA). For me, these 600 horsepower ground-pounders were the stuff of legends. As a kid, these were the cars my dad took me to the track to see. These were the cars that my heroes drove. In any event, in my time at ‘The Park,’ I earned the ‘Rookie of the Year’ award, as well as seven ‘Most Popular Driver’ honors. And, on April 24, 1999 I became the first and only female in the track’s 51-year history to record a NASCAR Modified feature event victory. All told, we ran competitively at Riverside until the track was shuttered at the close of the 1999 race season.
Since that time, I have competed – as the lone female – with NASCAR’s ultra-competitive Whelen Modified Tour, driving for team owner William Woodman. I campaign the No. 90 machine – a number I have competed with since the age of five. In the 26-year history of the Series I am the only female to earn a front row starting position and top-ten finishes.
At this point in my career, I have no aspirations to advance. I simply want to be competitive with NASCAR’s WMT. This is no easy task. As in most forms of motorsports, cash is king. How fast you want to go is directly related to how much money you have to spend. Compared to the competition, we’re a seriously underfunded team. That’s an enormous obstacle we constantly work to overcome. In that area – sometimes we’re successful, sometimes we’re not.
Racing has become a way of life for me; I probably don’t know how to function otherwise. It’s a sport that can be a great source of pride; yet offer up an enormous supply of pain. I believe that many of the lessons I’ve learned in racing, parallel those that I’ve learned in life. Through it all – the good, the bad and the ugly – I still encourage young females I meet to pursue their racing goals.
To that end, I’m fortunate enough to have forged a lasting friendship with Lyn St. James. Over the years, she has been a mentor, advisor and friend. As a woman who competed at the very highest levels of this male dominated sport – she has literally seen it all. I have found her insight and guidance and opinion to be spot on. In an attempt to pay it forward, for several years I have volunteered my time with her ‘Women in the Winner’s Circle Complete Driver Academy.’ I am proud to be a part of Lyn’s comprehensive educational and training program and enjoy watching the progress of the women I meet. I would encourage anyone attempting to ‘find their line’ to attend Lyn’s Program…
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