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Bill W's Knoxville News Bill Wright
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From the Grandstand Ron Rodda
Wagsworld Ken Wagner
Keeping Track Dino Oberto
Tri-State Outlook Duane Hancock
Runnin The High Groove Paul KuyawaHoosier Race Report Danny Burton
Not Just Another Racing Column Pastor Dudley Balmer
Dirt Divas Camisha MillerCentral PA
by Camisha Miller
TWO IN ONE- CORRIE AND SAMANTHA PORTSCHY
When did you know you wanted to race:
I knew I wanted to race as soon as I saw my dad win a race and have fun doing it.
How old are you when you started:
I started racing at the age of 14.
Do you think your daughter will race:
I would love for my daughter to be in some sport and follow her dreams; I don’t know if that's racing or not but I am not going to push her to race.
How hard it is it to be a woman sprint car driver:
I would say that the guys don’t treat me like I am a woman driver they treat me like I am their own which is a good thing because I would not want to have special privileges just because I am a girl. I want to get treated like their own and have them race me just as hard as they would any other person.
What is the one thing you want people to know about your dad:
What I want people to know about my dad is that he was a great family man. He would do anything for his family and we always came first no matter what.
You recently graduated from college- what is your degree in:
I graduated from Moraine Park Technical College with Associates in Criminal Justice.
If you had to choose dry slick or a tacky track which one would it be:
I preferably choose tacky tacks because you can hold it wide open and not have to worry about spinning out.
My best moment
My best moment in racing would have to be winning a heat race my rookie year against Danny Schlafer and Pete Ostrowski.
My least favorite moment would have to be when my dad crashed into a driver and then I crashed into my dad and I had to go to the hospital because I had neck pains and found out I tore all my ligaments on my second vertebra and had bruised ribs.
Favorite Driver (other than your dad):
My favorite driver would have to be Donny Schatz.
Your life motto:
My life motto...hmmmm I have a lot of them lol...probably live each day like it’s your last because you never know when it might be.
Have you always been involved in racing:
When I was a young girl I was a “norm” at the Plymouth Dirt Track I was a fan of the sportsman division. I sat in the bleachers and had the mud hit me and I would always just play with my friends when the super winged modifieds went out because I liked a different division. Little did I know that I would end up falling in love with a driver in that modified division Brian “the tornado” Portschy. We met one night when I visited my dad and there was this guy in a blue hat with the lettering saying Portschy Racing. I simply said, “You know Portschy?” He replied, “I am Portschy” and then I thought he must be a jerk because of the division he raced in, boy was I wrong! He had raced since 1998 and not in a fender car so I did not pay much attention to him, but I am glad my dad had him over and we started then to build a life together. He raced sprint cars for years after his modified days and got his daughter Samantha in one as well, so I guess I knew then no fenders going to be around our shop! Two opposites attract and that was us to a tee!!
Favorite win with Brian:
In all honesty, I don’t have a favorite win with Brian because each was different and all of them were just as equal as his first win. Now when he did win, my favorite part of that was how he shared it with everyone around him but mostly his family who shared 110% of his passion and love for the sport. Brian was a selfless man and if you looked at old photos of him in victory lane he was not smiling until he got to share it with his family, sponsors and fans after the races were done.
Brian left us all in August, 2013, how are you doing: It was a tragic accident not race car related but still car related at our shop on a night I will never ever forget. I now get to see how our kids and my grandchild are living examples Brian. He would say “we” all the time not “I” because he was always thinking of us. His motto in life was to always include family into everything. His sister Pam is a doctor and any medical problems we had or the kids had questions on, he would say “call your aunt she will know.” She was right alongside of us throughout his time spent at the hospital before he left us and his mother was there too. He also was a mama’s boy and for as tough as his layers were there was a soft spot for his mom. His strength came from his mom and they shared a special bond that I feel he will always have with Samantha, Emily and Liz too. Brady our son was his left-hand man. He loved to work on things with his dad and help him out all the time. Those are cherished memories I know Brian loved and he was very passionate about anything he was involved with. He believed without children there would be an end to racing, so by watching his daughter race in the same division as him was a lifelong dream he had succeeded at. I will always be “Ma” Portschy because I was always involved with our families racing ventures and still plan to be. And that is how Brian would want it to be.
Corrie would like to add: Brian was 28 years old when he started racing a super winged modified and did not come from a racing family. He simply saw the rush and thrill and jumped right in to owning and driving a modified and sprint car. He had started a chain now with Samantha being second generation and he was so proud of her and still is. He was very well known to his fans especially on autograph night because we had the best goodies to giveaway! BP was humbled and never took any credit for always helping people and working hard. If Brian could say one thing about the things I wrote he would say anything is possible as a child so don’t give up and oh my wife “ma” hit it on the head in this interview (lol)!!
I grew up watching BP race and got to know the Portschy’s very well. Brian stood up in our wedding and for that we are so very grateful he was a part of our day. It is said that you meet people for many reasons, and I believe with my whole heart we met the Portschy’s to be encompassed by their passion for many things. Corrie and Samantha makesme laugh and has always supported me in whatever I was doing and for that my diva’s, I am forever grateful!
ONE-ON-ONE WITH HEIDI WARREN
How did Billy and you meet?
We went to school together but during high school I was dating someone else so he would just stalk me (follow me around school). After graduation we all used to go to the same bar, finally after several beverages he worked up the nerve to talk to me... and the rest is history!
What do you do for a living?
I have three jobs - my favorite job is part-time professional grandma, babysitting for my one year old granddaughter Alexis (we are expecting our second grandchild, a boy on June 8). I am also the office manager/bookkeeper for Warren Automotive & Machine and shortly (Tuesday) I will be taking my exam for my realtor’s license so then I will also be selling real estate for Anderson Realty in Beaver Dam.
Do your children enjoying racing and do they ever want too?
I am not sure if you would call it "enjoy". They have always helped in the shop and went to all of the races when Billy raced 360's. But when he went back 410 racing with all the traveling it didn't always work for them to go along. Our oldest, Cody lives in Apple Valley, MN and whenever we are in that area he and his wife Christine will come to watch and if they are home and we are racing they will come along. The youngest Sam works for the family business and he does come along to help whenever he can. Billy likes having Sam come along because he knows and understand the engine part so if there are any engine issues he can trust Sam to assist him. Happily I have to say the neither one of the boys want to race. I say this because I often think of Amy Swindell and having both husband and son racing, I am not sure my nerves could take that.
Your favorite win with Billy?
Hmmm.... favorite win.... he had quite a few with the 360's and those wins both boys were along to share the experience and usually my family was also there. Probably my favorite would be in 1997 when he won the 360 championship, the final night he won the feature. That one was special because Cody and Sam, my family and his mom and dad were all there to enjoy it. His first 410 race I was pregnant with Sam and it was very hot and my doctor would not let me go to the races because of the heat. That one I would have really liked to have been at, all I got was to see the video.
Your least favorite moment with him?
I have two - the first one was when he flipped in turns three and four at Knoxville and almost bounced off the score board. The second one was at St. Croix two years ago going down the front straight passing for second in the feature the steering locked up, he turned into the front straight wall and proceeded to flip into turn one. The best/worst part was several weeks later we were in the doctor’s office and he asked the doctor what were the symptoms of a concussion; And apparently he had been experiencing these symptoms but never told me!
Favorite person you have got to know through racing and why?
I have met so many people through racing, which is what I think is the best part of racing. But my FAVORITE person has got to be Melissa Reinke. Most of my close friends don't understand racing, and then I met Melissa! Finally a close friend that understands my need to follow my husband all over the countryside to watch him race. We help to keep each other sane during the racing season, although I have sustained several bruises from her after a feature. Her and Mike have taken several trips with Billy and I, to Mexico and our Couples Weekends in the fall. She was also very supportive when I was dealing/fighting my breast cancer.
What makes you a diva?
Hmmm.... not sure because I never thought of myself as a diva. But I guess that standing by and supporting my husband in all his racing endeavors and fighting and winning my fight against breast cancer.
A motto you live by?
I have two - That which does not kill you only makes you stronger and
With God all things are possible.
One-on-One with Kylie McMahan
How old are you?
What are your plans after high school?
I don't know exactly what I want to do, but I know I want to do something with music.
How do you manage not seeing your dad all the time? Any advice...
I've gotten used to not seeing him all the time since he has been racing my whole life; however, it is hard when he goes to Australia for a month.
Your favorite racing moment with your dad?
Probably when he won Eldora for the first time because he wouldn't stop saying "Guys...I just won Eldora." and it made me laugh
What do you want us to know about your dad many people wouldn't know?
He really likes to sing even though he is tone deaf and doesn't know the words.
Your favorite track?
What makes you a diva?
I won't let anyone get in the way of my goal. If someone tells me I can't do something, I try to do it just to prove them wrong. I'm not sure if that's exactly what makes me a diva J
Favorite race food?
Probably the hamburgers and the fresh squeezed lemonade from Eldora
Favorite driver other than your dad? :)
Your favorite non-racing moment your dad and you have shared?
My favorite non-racing moment would probably be all the times we've gone to amusement parks because we both love roller coasters so we ride them all together.
I have gotten to know Kylie over the years and she is growing up to be an amazing and talented young lady. She has a spark just like her mother Jan when she walks in to a room. Her voice is beautiful and I think Paul will have to take lessons from her! The McMahan’s are a great family and have been supporters of my family and for that I am thankful! No one usually stands in our way as Diva’s Kylie, so of course that makes you a DIVA!! Welcome to the Dirt Diva Club!!
One-on-One with Xia Xianna Bacon
How did Brady & you meet?
It was a sunny afternoon on
September 30, 2008. I was Miss Winchester for my hometown and track! I
only did a few races a year, mainly the bigger events and USAC was one
of them! I enjoyed being Miss Winchester and used it as an excuse to get
dressed up since I wasn’t into the racing much. That day was the same as
any other; being walked around to meet and greet fans, shake the
driver’s hands as they were introduced for driver intros, ride in the
pace car during caution laps, and stand in victory lane with the winning
driver. Little did I know I would soon meet my future husband? Brady was
currently driving for Kasey Kahne Racing in the midget and sprint car
divisions for USAC. Today’s race was a sprint car race and Brady had
won. Back then I didn’t understand the prestige that went along with
winning a USAC race at Winchester Speedway. The entire team was so
excited as I made my way to Victory Lane to congratulate the driver and
crew. We didn’t talk much, just took pictures. After the celebrations
were over I was making my way to the track office to get ready to leave
when I was asked to come officially meet the winning driver. I walked
over and Brady and I were introduced. We made some small talk and I was
asked for my phone number. I initially said I wasn’t interested but was
talked into it by a friend. Brady invited me to a bonfire that night but
had other plans and I really had no interest in going. We both went our
separate ways as we left. It didn’t take long for him to start texting
me. I had just recently gotten out of a 5 year relationship and wasn’t
interested in dating at that time. However, after a few days and a very
persistent Brady, I agreed to go on a date with him. We went to dinner
and a movie then came back to my house where I told him he had to meet
my roommates, which were 2 girls and 3 guys. I’m pretty sure that when
he arrived to pick me up the guys were trying to scare him off lol.
Apparently it didn’t work! After our first date we enjoyed each others
company and started spending more time together. I went to his house in
Brownsburg a couple times. I remember one night we were bowling and
Brady’s mom had asked for my phone number and as I was giving it to her,
Brad Sweet was trying to put it in his phone ha-ha boys will be boys!
That next weekend was the Hut Hundred in Terre Haute. It was my first
race that I went to actually watch Brady, I’d say I was hooked from then
What do you do for a living?
I am an Esthetician and skin care
professional. I have a spa in my sister’s salon! I love making people
feel great. I also do permanent cosmetics which is tattooed eyeliner,
eyebrows, and full lip color. Its funny seeing peoples reaction when
someone tells them that I do tattoos! When we are on the road which is
the majority of the time I take care all of Brady’s merchandise and run
our merchandise trailer. I also take care of all the social media and
update all of Brady’s races live! You can get updates from me on
twitter: @XiaXianna and on Facebook.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Well my biggest pet Peeve is our 60
pound black lab, her name is Pevely, aka Peeve for short ha-ha. OK… One
of my biggest pet peeves is when someone says they will do something and
then they don’t. I would just rather them not say they can do it than to
say they can and don’t. My other pet peeve is leaving lights on around
the house in rooms no one is in;Brady does this all the time especially
in our pantry lol.
Favorite win with Brady?
Well my favorite win has to be
Winchester because without that win we wouldn’t have each other. Besides
that win my favorite would be when Brady won both non-wing and wing
features of the night during the Jesse Hockett/ Daniel McMillan Memorial
race! Another good win was Brady’s win in our car at Eldora in October!
It was his first win there!
Hardest moment with Brady while racing?
The hardest moments for me with
Brady while he’s racing is either when he is qualifying or when he is
leading. When he qualifies he needs the best lap he can possibly make
and I know he is trying his best to make that happen. When he is leading
a race I’m so excited and nervous at the same time because I know at any
given time something could possibly happen to the car that is out of
Brady’s control and could take the win away from him. This year this
exact thing happened at a USAC race in Iowa, Brady had an 8 second lead
on the field and his rear axel broke. That’s heartbreaking!
Your favorite part about being on the road?
I think my favorite part about being
on the road is being able to spend so much time together. Most family’s
only get to spend the evenings together after they get home from their
9-5 job. We work together and are a great team. I would do anything I
could to help Brady and his career and being on the road with him is a
big part of that. It’s how we make a living and it’s what we love doing
What are your 2014 resolutions?
To win the USAC Championship this
year!!! Brady is the hardest working and most dedicated person I know.
He puts everything he has into what he does for a living and I believe
this year is going to be one of his best!
I love breadsticks with cheese and
pizza, especially Pizza King! We are big fans of Mexican food and eat it
Favorite vacation spot?
Well as many racers know there isn’t
much time for a vacation, but the most amazing place I have been was our
honeymoon in Costa Rica. It was so beautiful. We were in the rain forest
and looking out of our private bungalow was a Volcano. The scenery of
all the tropical plants, trees, and flowers were so different than you
see in Florida or Mexico. It truly was one of those places you only see
on TV and think wow!
Who is your favorite driver
(can't be Brady)?
Anytime Brady isn’t driving I’m probably cheering for Shane Stewart. He is such a talented driver and one of the nicest guys I know.
do you like to do when you’re not racing?
When we aren’t racing we like to spend time at home to just relax. When we are busy during the race season we are gone so much that we don’t get to enjoy being home much without having to leave in a day or two. We avoid restaurants at all costs because we get so sick of eating out. We have 2 nieces and 2 nephews so we enjoy spending time with them as well.
What do you do with Brady's racing?
Besides taking care of all the
merchandise which is a ton of work I pretty much help Brady with
whatever he needs help with. When he’s not racing for Hoffman in the 69
car for USAC, Brady will run our own stuff with the All-Stars or World
of Outlaws. We don’t have a full time crew guy so Brady pretty much does
everything himself and if he needs help at the shop I’ that person. I’ve
done everything from cleaning out fuel bladders to mounting and
dismounting tires to changing rear ends to putting a motor in the car to
cutting all the vinyl and lettering the car. Whatever he needs I will
find a way to help. I may not be the best at it but we do it together.
What makes you a diva?
Hmmmm…. If I was asked this question
about 5 years ago I would say probably the fact that I own over 30 pair
of heels and it’s rare for me not to be all dressed up. But since I
obviously don’t live that life anymore I’d say it’s my type A
personality. I’m a very organized person that has a place for
everything. I plan everything ahead of time even if its months away.
This sometimes drives me crazy because you can’t always do that with our
schedule and how it can change last minute. I’m also extremely
competitive and Brady and I are always trying to outdo each other; he on
the track and me in the merchandise trailer, we keeps tabs of who makes
more money that night lol. I can get down and dirty at the track but I
can also be the girly girl when I’m at home.
Thank you so much for asking me to do this for you!!! I appreciate it and hope you enjoy getting to know us a little better.-Xia Xianna Bacon
I had to opportunity to meet Xia at the Knoxville Nationals a few years back and we were both a bit busy so it was a short moment we spent together. Last year I was able to see Brady make ALL THREE A-MAIN EVENTS AT ELDORA in October and capture a win! I was excited my brother-in-law made the BOSS show at Eldora in the non-wing car and Brady won the A-main in their own car, so there was excitement in the pits for me! Xia has one of the biggest hearts of anyone because she has not yet met my niece Ava who has a Congenital Heart Defect but she supports her all the time. I reached out to her and Brady and she didn’t even blink an eye and sent raffle items for our Bowling for a Broken Heart Benefit last weekend. Without even meeting her she said “No child should have to go through this and bless her little heart- we will pray for her always.” Diva’s stick together! I have learned this in many ways since I started doing this, and I am so excited to welcome her to our Dirt Diva family! Make it a Diva day! PS. I like to work on our race car too :-)
ONE-ON-ONE WITH HEATHER BROWN
HOW DID BRIAN & YOU MEET?
I have always wished that I had some romantic fairy tale story to tell of our meeting; however, I don't! Brian grew up in a town 15 minutes away from my hometown, but I guess a couple years’ age difference made it so there was no running into each other and no high school romance! However, in my twenties, I would see Brian out and about and my girlfriends and I would always joke that he was my future husband! He was exactly what I was looking for in a man: tall, good dark hair, pretty smile, and a nice dresser. One night we were at the right place and the right time. He was single and I was single, so we tried it. Ten years later, here we are!
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING?
I am a hairstylist at a salon in Blue Springs, MO. I have been blessed to have one of the best jobs a woman can have and lucky enough to have done it for almost 17 years! My clients who know nothing about sprint car racing have been very supportive of the life style I have! Many times I’m able to move appointments last minute or work late hours to be able to leave town for a race. I am slowly educating "fancy" women about a little bit of "dirt" racing and what it is all about!
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED IN RACING?
I have been asked this questions many times! At the Nationals this year, I was a part of a women's panel about "women in sprint car racing". As I sat and listened to the women answer questions, every single one had a wonderful story about growing up being involved in racing since childhood or that they had a family member race. Then there was me. When I met Brian, I wouldn't say it was his pickup line, but I do remember him throwing it out there a few times that he was a sprint car driver. My response was simply, "What the heck is a sprint car?" Brian was racing the Casey's #6 with the Outlaws and he invited me and some friends to come see him race. So we packed up and headed to Pevely, MO, to a race. If you have ever been to a race there, then you know when I say this that Pevely was not a place for a first-timer to see her boyfriend race! That race was 10 years ago, and 10 years later I am still here! So even though I was not raised around racing, I can honestly say that I think I have now been involved long enough to understand what this racing stuff is all about!
WHAT IS YOUR PET PEEVE?
Oh jeez I have many pet peeves, from chomping gum to biting fingernails! But as far as a pet peeve in racing, it is pretty simple-- JEALOUSY! Gosh this one is a topic I could chat about for days! From the message boards, to every piece of social media out there, it drives me crazy to see the jealousy and mean things people say about racers! When someone works hard, accomplishes something great, or even gets a big opportunity, many, many times instead of the praise they deserve, I read such negative comments and words to tear them down! I will never understand jealousy and if people actually feel better after saying negative comments.
I am a food junkie! I love all kinds of food. But if I had to narrow it down to one favorite, I would say Mexican! Cannot go wrong with chips and salsa and a margarita!
I would have to say Top Gun! I really believed the first time I saw this movie that some guy would get done flying his plane, be all sweaty, and hop on his motorcycle then come busting in my front door and that was normal for romantic couples! Needless to say I am still waiting....
FAVORITE SPRINT CAR DRIVER (can't be Brian)
Well I discuss this with Brian all the time. I came into racing only knowing/watching him race! I didn't know anyone else to cheer for. However, over time, I have decided I would cheer for others because I liked the look of their car, I thought the driver was cute, or I liked their sponsor! But 10 years later I now choose "favorite" for different reasons! So if I had to choose a driver now I would have to go with the rest of the world and say Kyle Larson. However, I am probably choosing him for different reasons than others. I do agree he is an amazing racer. I hear it from my husband all the time, but I choose him because of so much more! I am constantly amazed the few times I see him that he is still the polite, kind person that he was the very first time I met him! The kid has had so much thrown at him and has more than enough reasons to be a cocky, punk kid; however, he is not! He is a racer that is not selfish and his whole goal in becoming a professional racer is to give another racer an opportunity, and I just love that!
WHAT MAKES YOU A DIVA?
Hmmmmm... a diva? Well, I don't really think I classify myself as a diva. Wait…who am I kidding?! It takes me as long to prepare my wardrobe for the weekend as it does the boys to do maintenance on the car all week!
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN WHILE YOU ARE NOT AT THE RACES?
I enjoy spending time with my friends, going to the lake, shopping, going to ball games, having a night on the town with my friends, and going to concerts. My daughter is now attending University of Missouri, so I love to go hang out in Columbia with her! Also recently, my brother and his wife had a little girl so I am a "new" aunt and love every minute of that! But to be honest, whenever I have time to just be home for a weekend doing nothing that is about as good as it gets!
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT BRIAN NOT MANY PEOPLE KNOW?
Oh I could go on and on about this one! He (thinks) he can sing as well as Brad Paisley, and he (thinks) he can dance as good as Usher! But thank goodness racing has been his choice for profession! Ha ha! But if I had to choose one thing that many people don't know about Brian, it is that he is an amazing step father to my daughter, Mikala. When I started dating Brian, my daughter was only 8. At that time, I would have never guessed that the single "bachelor" would have become one of the key parts in completing my little family. Brian has been so influential in many of Mikala's stepping stones-- school, sports, dating, break ups, college, and many more. He has truly been the person she can call at any time of the day, and he will drop whatever he is doing to help her! This is what I love the man for, not because he drives a race car!
EXPLAIN THE EMOTIONS OF RUNNING 2ND AT THE KNOXVILLE NATIONALS
Well, now I guess I get to explain 2 years of the emotions! Ha ha! When I try to explain it to people, I don't know how I can put into words all of the different emotions. Two years ago, the emotions were completely different than they were this year. So, go back to 2012 Nationals, I remember thinking to myself the whole day that it was just amazing that we made the show, so however Brian finishes I will be happy. I was so very, very nervous at the beginning of the race, just because I was so worried about the unknown-- blown motor, flat tire, etc. As the race came closer to the end, I would have never said it to Brian, but I would have just been happy to have a top 5!
Then with Donny Schatz in the lead, I think it is a mental compromise that we will have to settle for nothing better than second place, which hey I was ok with! I will never forget, I was sitting on the floor in the suite and each lap he was getting closer and closer to Donny, and I thought, “Oh my goodness if Brian pulls this off…” and I made the joke to everyone that I began to spend $150,000 in my head.
Just like that Schatz bobbles and Brian is as close as he has been all night. The picture of the checkered flag and the cars at the line will NEVER ever leave our memory! Sooo freakin close! So freakin close! Next came a different emotion...
To my husband, winning the Knoxville Nationals is like becoming President of the United States! There is nothing more that he wants. So coming from just happy to make the show to running 2nd is one step closer to his dream. The excitement was unexplainable! I got to sit back and watch something I had not witnessed before, which was the excitement not just from our family or his crew guys, but from fans that have been fans of Brian’s for years. Seeing them excited and then seeing the boys he grew up with watching the races at Knoxville and the emotion they felt and seeing grown men in tears because they know how very special that moment was for all of us. It was one of the best feelings in the world!
Every single person that has had a part in Brian's racing career was there to witness that night and all the emotions. Unforgettable for sure!
So, 2013 emotions are completely different than 2012. This year it was a calm feeling for me. I wasn't sick to my stomach or shaking so bad I couldn't stand up. This year was almost like a numb feeling at the start. There was so much more pressure this year because I feel that so many fans were behind Brian and putting the pressure to win on his back. It was an amazing feeling working in the t-shirt trailer every day and hearing the different comments from people that were pulling for Brian or that they knew this was his year. For me, I thought everything was going our way, so I just knew it had to come this year.
When the races started and Brian took the lead it was almost like that calmness was still there for me. At the halfway point I got a whole new feeling back! Good ol Schatz was coming and coming fast. So after leading 41 laps and getting passed this year by Schatz at the end-- it was a completely different feeling running 2nd! Two years ago finishing 2nd was like we won the Nationals and this year finishing 2nd was nothing like that. I know that Brian will get the win some day. He wakes up every single day thinking about what he can do to win it and he goes to sleep every night thinking about the same, so I know it will come.
I cannot wait to answer a question like this when he does!
FAVORITE WIN THAT STANDS OUT TO YOU WITH BRIAN
Gosh this is a hard one because I feel like so many wins have stood out for different reasons. Races where he started very last and won it or races when all of our friends and family have been there all have such memories. Anymore, it doesn't matter where you win. It stands out because competition is so tough. But, if I had to choose just one race that stands out, even though it wasn't a win, would for sure be 2nd at Knoxville Nationals 2012. That was one of the greatest memories for all of us with Brian.
Heather and Brian have been amazing with my niece Ava June Biel who was born with a Congenital Heart Defect & has had three open heart surgeries in 9 months since being born. I reached out to Heather after meeting her and hanging with her a few years ago at the Nationals and ask if she would send something for Ava’s hospital room from Brian because she needs to have more Dirt Diva items in her room.
She without hesitating sent items from Brian and has not stopped checking-in on her. We will never be able to express how much we appreciate it- but I do know this that Ava went to her first Nationals this year and was smiling the whole time. Dirt Diva’s are unique in their own right but all of them have hearts of pure gold. I am so blessed to have gotten to know Heather & Brian on a different level other then racing. Heather welcome to the Dirt Diva world-THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU!!
ONE-ON-ONE WITH LAUREN STEWART
How did Bryan Clauson & you meet?
When Bryan and I met, I was Ms. Eldora Speedway and I was helping at a Tony Stewart Racing event at the Knoxville Nationals. The TSR event was a Chevy “Test Drive with your favorite driver” day and I was helping with registration. During the day Bryan and I got introduced and I jokingly signed us up to take a test drive. Well, our turn came and we hopped in a Camaro with me behind the wheel. A couple minutes into the drive I scared Bryan and asked him if he wanted to take over the driving duties. We made it back to the track in one piece (with my scary driving and all). Five months later I needed a date to the Eldora banquet… after some prodding from Misha Geisert I asked him to be my date and the rest is history!
What do you do currently?
I just finished up my junior year of college. I attend Indiana University in Indianapolis (IUPUI) and I am majoring in marketing. I have a part time job for the summer, but I’m basically Bryan’s full time personal assistant, which is a 25-hour-a-day job. I handle his merchandise and his social media while at the track. We just launched an iPhone/Droid app and I keep that updated. We just got a puppy, her name’s Chevy and if you follow me on twitter or Facebook you’ve probably seen her!
How long have you been involved in racing?
I’ve been involved in racing since I was in the womb! When I was younger my dad sold tires and fuel at local dirt tracks in Illinois. My parents have owned their own racing merchandise business since they’ve been married. Growing up my parents traveled to NASCAR races with their merchandise trailers. I was pretty lucky and got to travel with them a lot! They always did a lot of dirt races as well, East Bay, Knoxville, Eldora and some WoO races. I grew up with winged sprint cars, and I never went to non-wing races until I started dating Bryan. I hate to admit it, but I think I might be converted. I still enjoy wing cars, especially the atmosphere at a World of Outlaws race, but you’ll never see a boring non-wing race!
What is your favorite track?
Hmm… this question has several answers! My favorite overall track is definitely Kokomo Speedway! Kokomo always puts on a good show; it’s always a good race. I’ve seen winners come from the back multiple times at Kokomo! The track is always prepped perfectly and it’s good for sprint cars and midgets. Another plus about Kokomo is the pork chop sandwich; next time you’re there you need to get one. I promise it’s the best item on a concession stand menu in the country. My favorite track for qualifying is Lawrenceburg Speedway. The track is really cool to look at empty because of the banked corners, so single car qualifying is pretty exciting! The drivers are on the gas for qualifying there and it usually takes someone pretty crazy to set quick time at Lawrenceburg. My favorite event is the Knoxville Nationals, so Knoxville Raceway is on my list of favorites. I love the Nationals and it’s something I look forward to every year! I’ve never missed a Nationals and I don’t plan on it anytime soon!
Explain the emotions Bryan & you felt for qualifying for the Indy 500...
The whole month of May was such an awesome experience last year. We spent so much time at the speedway with the whole Sarah Fisher Hartman team and everyone became like family. The coolest thing was seeing people in their dirt track shirts walking around the speedway. So many people told me they were attending their first 500 because Bryan was racing and that was pretty neat. The month was like a roller coaster of emotions, especially Pole Day. When Bryan hit the track for his qualifying run, the crowd went crazy.
I was sitting in the stands with my little brother and I watched Bryan come around three times and on that fourth and final time around I heard the crowd before I saw what happened. Bryan had a really good run going, the crowd cheering louder every time by and then it was a collective groan and I looked up at the screen and saw what had happened. My immediate reaction was fear; I was scared because Bryan just hit the wall really hard at 220+ mph. I watched him get out of the car, so I knew he was okay. Then I was devastated, for Bryan, for the fans that we’re watching, and for the whole SFHR team.
The team worked so hard and got the car put back together for Bryan and the next day when he qualified for the Indy 500 was such an incredible feeling! I was so proud of him and the smile he had on his face is an emotion I’ve never seen from him! He was completely beaming and it was awesome to see him so happy. The next week was crazy busy with dinners, the parade, practice and finally race day. The second best moment of the whole month was during driver intros. When Bryan was introduced the crowd cheered louder than I’d heard all month! Hearing him introduced as I stood on the track by his car made it so real. Bryan’s racing in the Indy 500!! How many people can say they’ve done that?!
What do you see in your future?
Graduation in One year! I’m pretty excited for that. Majoring in marketing I hope to find a job that is in motorsports. I would love to work for a series or a track. I’m not 100 percent sure what I want to do, but I still have some time to figure that out!
Oh man. I love to eat. I love a good steak and baked potato, that’s my go to at a restaurant. My favorite thing to cook is baked spaghetti, pretty simple, but it always hits the spot! I always and I mean always, save room for dessert. My favorite is pineapple frozen yogurt from Orange Leaf.
My all time favorite movie is 8-Seconds. If I could watch it every night I totally would. I don’t even have to have the volume up because I have every word memorized. I cry like a baby at the end every time, but it’s such a good story it’s hard not to be emotionally attached to it!
Chevy the dog is what breed :) love her by the way!
She’s a Jack Russell mix. Not sure what she’s mixed with… we think a Beagle. She’s almost 5 months old! I love her way more than I thought I’d ever love a dog! She’s spoiled rotten and I think I’ve become a crazy dog lady.
What is the motto you live by?
I don’t necessarily have a motto, but I am a big believer that everything happens for a reason. I’ve learned to deal with change and have an open mind about people and situations. That’s especially important in the racing world because things change all the time!
What makes you a diva?!!
Oh goodness… Well, if you asked Bryan what makes me a diva he’d probably tell you my opinion. I always have an opinion and I’m usually not afraid to share it. I have learned when I need to keep my comments to myself, but when we get in the car after the races everything comes spilling out! Another thing that we joke about is that I always use the side of the trailer as a mirror. I’m not really girly, and 99% of the time I have a ponytail and hat on at the races, but I still check my reflection when I get the chance!
Who do you look to as a role model?
My role model is Misha Geisert, program manager at Tony Stewart Racing. I’ve known Misha since I was Ms. Eldora and I’ve had a relationship with her ever since! I think her job is awesome, but I think it’s even more impressing that she is in her position in a male dominated field. Misha gets stuff done, but she does it so professionally and politely and that is something I really admire. She’s always on the go, always has her phone out, but she’s a really cool, down-to-earth person when you get to know her! Not going to lie, I was slightly intimidated when I first met her, but then I learned she was just very serious with her job. She should be because what she does is hard and I don’t think anyone else could do it better!
Favorite driver besides Bryan!!
My favorite driver is Joey Saldana! My parents have been friends with the Saladana’s so I’ve gotten to know Joey and his wife Shannon pretty well. I like Joey because he’s always exciting to cheer for on the track, but he’s a super nice person off the track too! Bryan’s joked around with me before and asked if him and Joey were racing each other who I would cheer for and I’m not really sure… let’s hope it doesn’t happen!
I met Lauren at a non-wing race last year in Sun Prairie, WI and we had a wonderful conversation about life and since then she has been a huge supported of my family and my niece Ava who was born with a congenital heart defect and spent 130 days in Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and has survived three open heart surgeries (she certainly is a diva)... Lauren and Bryan both took time to pray and send items to brighten her hospital room and we truly appreciate their love & support.
I also love her dog Chevy and will never forget when my husband went to race at the Brownstown Speedway for the No Way Out 40- I was in pure panic because this was his first time running wingless and she was great with my panic-ness- lol :)
After the A-main event I went to thank Misha and Lauren for their help and thank Jimmy Carr for a part we needed and Chevy at through her kennel and got at her food- I laughed so hard because no one talked about Bryan’s finish because Chevy took the spot light- as soon as Bryan got out of the car she says “Bryan do you know what your dog did during the A-main- she ate through her kennel and got at her food and ate most of it!” His response, “Oops I guess we need a new kennel and laughed at her.”
Chevy and Lauren are both Diva’s and we are huge Joey Saldana fans too! Plus I used to work for the Professional Bull Riders so some of those that were depicted in the movie"8 Seconds" I am good friends with them. I want to THANK YOU Lauren and Bryan for loving our family as much as we love you!!
How did Brian and you meet?
What do you do for a living?
Tell us what Tear Off Apparel is and how it started?
Your favorite food?
Your favorite movie?
Favorite moment with Brian racing? I can't pick just one! I can narrow it down to two. The first year that we were married, Brian won the Outlaw show at Huset's Speedway. Brian won a few Outlaw shows that year, but it was really special because my parents and a lot of my friends were there. It was a nail biter for me with a few close restarts; Brian led from start to finish with the In-Law pressure on (ha-ha).
The other top moment was last year at the Knoxville Nationals. It wasn't Brian's best performance (starting on the outside pole in 2005 is tough to beat), but it was in so many other ways. It was the first time we had been to the Nationals in a couple of years. Brian had a major injury to his arm, and the race team had been sold off. We showed up using our old merchandise trailer to haul our car, a car that was new in 2004, a motor that was new in 2005, and no budget for tires. We qualified on used tires Wednesday night. Brian was top ten in time trials, made it threw his heat, and lined up mid pack of the A main.
Brian was up to 2nd, coming out of turn four to take the white flag, the Ujoint broke. At that point the amount of pride I had in my husband's performance was pretty overwhelming, and then to have a devastating finish like that- For a team that races on such a limited budget, that night was like winning the big show. The next day we were able to repair broken pieces, and check the motor. The motor wasn't in the best shape, but learning that Brian was starting in a transfer spot of the B Saturday night, we knew he had to give it a shot. Saturday was a really long day not knowing if the motor was going to make it 5 laps, or 50! Brian had quite the line up right behind him so that only added to the stress.
Brian started 4th, raced Sammy Swindell and Jason Sides most of the race, and finished 3rd, ahead of both of them. By the end of the race, I thought I was going to pass out in the stands. My dad had marks on his forearm from where I had squeezed it so tightly, and my friends had paper towels thrown at them and were told to sit down by the people behind them.
I don't know if I had ever had so many emotions all at once. Brian was starting 24th in the main event at the Knoxville Nationals. I was more proud at that moment than the year he set quick time, more than winning back to back Outlaw shows. Brian had raced an amazing race, and had qualified that week on used tires, what most would call an old car, and with a tired motor. That was a testament to what kind of driver Brian really is. He is an amazing driver with so much talent!
Hardest part of being on the road is...
What makes you a diva?
Do you think your children will want to race?
What motto do you live by?
Favorite racer (can't be Brian :)
It's amazing how my life has taken so many turns and changed direction so many times with Brian and now my girls. Traveling has allowed me to meet so many interesting and great people. It's given me the opportunity to live a dream I didn't know I had. I have great experience for the industry that I'm now involved in full time, by running Brian's merchandise trailer. I have so many stories that most people probably don't believe me when I tell them where I've been and who I've met. I tried to live a "normal" life when we moved to Indiana, and found that I was much better suited for Tear Off Apparel, and a racer's wife. We only race a few times a year now, whatever our budget and schedule allows, but by printing mostly racing apparel it allows me to stay in contact with the racing world.
I had the joy of meeting Melissa when I was on the road with the WoO and Brian raced full-time with them so I got to see their love for each often and it was amazing to see them together. One story that I have with Melissa is that we were in Pennsylvania at Williams Grove and Stevie Kinser and I got Steve’s t-shirt truck stuck in the mud and neither of us wanted to tell him- so Stevie asked Melissa to go get him and let him know we needed some help. Steve got in the truck and got us unstuck but threw mud all over other people’s campers but the people there didn’t care it was Steve Kinser who did it. Melissa then for the rest of the night would walk by the Outlaw merchandise t-shirt trailer and ask if I needed any help because she didn’t want me to get stuck in a cabinet or something. We laughed and laughed! I cheered last year so loud at the Nationals for Brian because he was really the underdog and it was awesome to see him push off for the A-main! Melissa you are one of the most kind and thoughtful ladies I have met and I get to pick who is a diva or not and YOU ARE IT!
ONE-ON-ONE WITH KENDRA JACOBS
For those people who don't know you- can you explain your connection to dirt track racing?
I was literally born into a racing family. My father, Kenny Jacobs raced sprint cars for more than 35 years. His father, Kenneth "Jake" Jacobs raced when he was young, as well. And my great-grandfather "Pete" Jacobs built Wayne County Speedway. In addition to that, my uncle Dean Jacobs still races. My brother Lee Jacobs races in Ohio. My cousin Cody Jacobs is a mechanic. My cousin's husband, Brian Bloomfield, is the crew chief for Sammy Swindell and my Uncle Ed Haudenschild and his son Brad Haudenschild are former sprint car drivers. (Whew) Racing was all I knew growing up. I thought that every kid in school went to the races on the weekends. It took me quite a while to realize how special my life was.
What is your job with Hendrick Automotive Group?
Currently, I work as the Manager of Communications for Hendrick Automotive Group. We have 86 car dealerships across the country so it keeps me hopping! From 2006 through the 2011 NASCAR season, I worked as a Public Relations Rep for the No. 5 team at Hendrick Motorsports. Through the years I worked directly with Kyle Busch, Casey Mears and then Mark Martin. There was never a dull moment!!! But, honestly, the travel got to me after 10 years, and I knew it was time to do something new.
Did you ever believe the Kick It for Cancer would have been as successful as it is?
I had HOPED it would be. This was something so spur of the moment for me to get involved with. When I heard they were sponsoring a sprint car, I knew that I wanted Jeff to LOVE being involved in sprint car racing again and then I remembered the softball games Knoxville used to have and all of this started clicking to have a kickball game there instead. The Knoxville game came together in about three weeks. Looking back that seems crazy but it wouldn't have been a success if the drivers hadn’t has embraced it as much as they did. They all gave so much of themselves and really had fun out there on the field. That's the side of these guys I think the fans really want to see. They sold themselves and, in turn, sold the game. It was a great thing to see and even greater event to be a part of. Since that game, sprint car racing has hosted eight games around the world and raised more than $160,000! It's amazing what we can all do collectively!
How do you manage a job with most of it being around asphalt but being a huge dirt fan?
When I traveled with NASCAR, I would try to find dirt races that matched up with the NASCAR schedule. I always notice more of them now that I'm not out there! But really I felt like I was an advocate for sprint car racing or at least I wanted to be. I'm surprised at how many people with NASCAR, both in the sport and as fans, don't know about sprint car racing. More of them do now since Tony and Kasey own sprint car teams, and I think Kyle Larson is gaining a lot of awareness for us too but, this is an amazing sport that seems to be, unfortunately, overlooked at times-So, I tried my best to talk about it as much as possible to build interest in the sport and really explain the excitement. Hopefully I at least gained sprint car racing one fan over the years.
What is your favorite thing you like to do?
Oooh...going to the races is definitely my favorite. Any kind!! Dirt is the best racing, but the people in NASCAR became my family too. So, truly if I'm at a race track, I'm happy J other than that sleep-I know that's horrible, but it's honest.
Favorite racer besides your family members? Asphalt -dirt or both :)
On asphalt, it's Tony Stewart. I adore him and his big heart. Anyone who doesn't like Tony Stewart just doesn't know Tony Stewart. I've never met a more giving person. On dirt, it's Tony Stewart. HA! Just kidding...that's a tough one because I like so many of them for different reasons. I would say Donny Schatz is pretty high on my list. Not necessarily for what he does as a driver, but for how he mentors me. If I ever have a question about the sport I know I can call Donny and he'll fully explain everything to me. I appreciate that more than I could tell him.
Favorite dirt track?
Eldora. What can I say, I love slide jobs. And they're better there than any other track.
Favorite asphalt track?
Darlington. Old Darlington. I think the newer surface will be great. But back when I started in NASCAR, Darlington would eat away the tires in less than one lap. Meaning the drivers had to hang on for dear life and really fight to drive the car. I loved that you knew the guy that won was really the best one out there.
What makes you a dirt diva?
Oooh...depends on the definition of diva! I love sprint car racing. I think it's what keeps me sane in all honesty. There are no egos (well little ones) and the people involved are solely in that pit area and in that race shop because they're so passionate about this sport. To share that passion and hopefully pass it on, that's my one goal in my career. Hopefully other fans, male or female, can see how much I LOVE this sport. I don't know if that makes any sense...but I guess that makes me a “dirt" something. Now, the fact that I wear white to the track all the time probably makes me a diva!
If you could give anyone advice about racing & working in the field-what would it be?
Get thick skin! This sport is tough. It's not glamorous. Its long hours- It's dirty truck stop bathrooms. It's dealing with insecurity and instability. There's nothing easy or certain in this sport. And no one's going to come up to you and hand you anything. Work hard-Show you're serious and then have some fun- Always have fun J
Motto you live by?
A friend of mine recently taught me "Be where your feet are!" I'm TRYING to live by that. But it's hard for me. I'm always checking Facebook and Twitter or taking pictures or writing notes. There comes a time when I need to just stop and enjoy the moment.
The only other thing that I would add is how much I love doing Winged Nation on Motor Racing Network. This job is my dream job! I get to spend one hour a week just talking about sprint car racing. Not only about the race itself but with and about the people and their families-it’s like returning to my childhood and just talking about a normal day with my racing family. I could not have asked for a better opportunity. To get to this point in my life and have a voice in this sport, not just be "Kenny's daughter,”-is something I had hoped for one day, but feels even better than I had imagined.
I met Kendra way back when I ran for the Knoxville Nationals Queen contest way back in the day- LOL!! I got done with the entire contest and was really upset that I did not answer the question they asked me right because it threw me for a loop, and she walked up to me and took me and took me aside and I will never forget what she said it sticks with me today-
She said this- “you may not know who I am but I know who you are- I watch you in the pits with your boyfriend (at the time) work on his car and you could run circles around these girls if you had to take apart and put a sprint car back together and it was judged on that. Your question you got was dumb and you answered it just fine- but maybe you just belong getting dirty and I see you dirty all the time. Keep up the good work not many girls would ever do what you do.” – The question was- what does a top wing do??…
I will never forget that question and never forget that moment she came up to me because for a moment I reflected back when I was a track queen in 1998 and had fun with it but dressing up at the races really like Kendra pointed out was not my calling- I like to get dirty at the race track and usually did in my dress when I was queen working on my Uncle’s super winged modified. I still work in our race shop on my husband’s sprint car-I get dirty at the race track and I would not have it any other way.
Kendra you put me in my place that day and I thank you for that because
you brought me back to where I thought I wanted to be and for that I am
grateful and blessed- You truly are a Dirt Diva and I am honored to
share that title with you now and call you my dear friend
ONE-ON-ONE WITH ERIN CROCKER EVERNHAM
How did Ray Evernham & you meet?
At the end of the 2004 World of Outlaw season, I started talking to several NASCAR teams about driving opportunities. At the time there was a big push for diversity and most teams had budgets for development programs. My agent and I got a call from Ray asking us to come down to North Carolina and meet with him. So we did and the deal he offered me for the 2005 season was very fair and so I signed with him the following week. The rest is history!!
That's an easy one! Winning the feature event at Tulare!! I can remember every detail of that day! It was near the end of the season and we had had a rough west coast swing. I started 6th and I remember passing Jac Haudenschild for the lead with just a few laps to go. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life, never mind just that season!!
How would you describe what it’s like being a successful woman race car driver?
I am not sure necessarily how successful I have been. As a race car driver, you always think you could have or should have accomplished more. But I do appreciate when people I look up to in racing, say I am a "real racer.” As a woman race car driver that's all I ever wanted to be considered. I race for the pure competition and love for speed.
Do you prefer dirt or asphalt?
Dirt! I enjoyed and certainly appreciated the racing I got to do in ARCA, Trucks and Nationwide but to me, the most fun I have ever had in a race car is in a winged sprint car-30 or 40 laps just all out, up against the fence.. You can't beat that!
Oh gosh, this is hard.. I am a foodie! I eat just about anything. I love everything from sushi and filet mignon to pizza burgers at Eldora!
Favorite race car driver (one from dirt & one from asphalt)?
Steve Kinser and Dale Earnhardt
What do you do now that you are not racing on dirt full time?
I am a part time driving instructor at the BMW Performance Center in South Carolina, I write articles for AskPatty.com (a women’s automotive website), I am on the board of directors for the National Sprint Cart Hall of Fame, I do some TV and radio here and there and work at our shop Ray Evernham Enterprises on projects Ray and I have going on... I keep myself pretty busy!
What was the hardest part of being on the road full time?
Being away from my family was probably the hardest part. When I ran the WoO tour in 2004 I had just graduated from college where I lived in a sorority house, so I went from that to living with 3 guys on the road. Talk about culture shock! It was a great time in my life to do something like that though. I didn’t own a car; I didn’t have a house or apartment. Whatever I did own at the time, I left at my mom’s house so I didn’t have many personal responsibilities. The only bill I had was a cell phone bill. It would be hard to go back out there now with where I am at in life... although I'd consider ;-)
If you could tell women involved in racing or those who want to be any advice- what would you say?
Go for it.. You only get one chance at this life so if it's what you love to do then by all means put all your effort into it! It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to make it happen but it’s possible. And lastly, develop thick skin, there will always be people who tell you don’t belong or you aren't good enough..Ignore them!
My shoe collection ;-) Since I haven't been racing as much lately, I have gotten way more into fashion and the girly stuff. Actually I always liked fashion; I just didn’t have as much time for it. Don’t worry though.. I still enjoy getting dirty, working at the shop and playing at the dirt track!
A motto you live your life by?
Life can change in heartbeat so don’t sweat the petty stuff
Favorite relaxing thing to do?
Enjoying a day on Lake Norman with Ray and our dogs
I met Erin when I worked for the WoO and I can attest to her statement about having thick skin. SHE HAS IT! I witnessed drivers saying things to her and she would just go out and out qualify them, beat them in a heat or dash or in the A-main and leave it on the track. I could not be more proud of her, and I know she appreciated that my dad was her biggest fan and loved meeting her when the WoO raced at Beaver Dam Raceway in Wisconsin where we live. Erin defines what a Dirt Diva is from all aspects of the name itself. I am honored to call her my friend, and I would love to someday fit in her shoes it whichever way that maybe!J
ONE-ON-ONE WITH DEBI BRUNETTE
How did Randy and you meet?
I met Randy at my 18th birthday party. Randy was a bartender at my
bowling party. I guess I had a little too much to drink and I fell for
his cheesy line...Lol!! I went to the bar and asked for a drink and he
said you bet, he then flash his baby blue eyes and he grab my hand to
give me my change and I felt fireworks. The rest is my fairy-tail come
How long has Randy raced and in what type of cars?
Who is your favorite driver besides your husband?
My favorite driver is Randy then Tony Schumacher wooot- wooot!!!!!!
What makes you a diva?
I have known Randy and Debi since Justin started racing his 360 MSA sprint car three years ago. They are an amazing couple and Randy is an incredible talent, and I never worried once when Justin and he were racing side-by-side. It was actually tough to cheer for both of them at the same time! I also told Randy I had him on tape because for laps on the video would be Randy not Justin because both of their cars looked alike to me J Debi and I became great friends through my accident and every night at the race track we would bond together as our husbands raced and always prayed for each other. I will miss them being there dearly because of their loving attitudes and both of them have the biggest hearts and giving spirits. She is a diva and I am honored to share that title with her and Randy you will be missed on the track- who am I going to tape now??!!!
ONE-ON-ONE WITH SUSANNAH STAPP
How long have you been involved in racing?
I was born into my racing lifestyle. My grandfather, Babe Stapp drove race cars from 1923 to 1940, including 12 times in the Indianapolis 500 from 1927 to 1940. My father, Steve, owned his first race car at age 14, which he was too young to drive himself, so he had to hire drivers that not only had to drive the race car but had to drive the hauler to the races as well! My dad then drove race cars threw his twenties, which is when he met my mother, and married in 1963. He drove until 1964 when my brother was born & then he became a mechanic & car owner. My parents lived in California during the winter and in Indiana during the summer, because Indiana is where the racing was. My dad worked for many Indy teams throughout the late '60's and was a Chief Mechanic at the Indianapolis 500 in 1965 & 1966 and in April of 1971 I was born. My parents were about to put my brother in full time school and they decided they wanted to do that in Indiana rather than California. So in August of 1971, my family moved to Brownsburg, Indiana, but along the way they had to make a stop...at the Knoxville Nationals! That was my first race!! My mom dressed me in a cute little pink outfit and pink bonnet (have I mentioned I totally dislike the color Pink!!) and she and my brother Andy and I sat in the grandstands and watched the races.
In 1971 my dad began building Sprint Cars, and I grew up going to the race shop daily as my mom worked with my dad at the shop. I was just recently given a photo from Shame Carson of our race shop and surprisingly, there I was running through the shop, it was very cool! I remember as a kid I used our open race car trailer as my jungle gym and uneven bars!
We raced mostly the USAC Sprint Car Circuit where my dad won the USAC Sprint Car Championships in 1974 & 1976 with Pancho Carter as the driver. He built many cars throughout those years but not too long after Pancho moved on to drive Indy cars my dad started to transition into a trucking business and ventured away from building race cars. My dad continued to own and campaign sprint cars with various drivers piloting his cars until my brother decided he wanted to race in the late 80's. I loved going racing with my brother, as we were always very close, despite our 6 1/2 year difference. As a matter of fact,
Andy and I always worked for the family growing up and once Andy started driving full time, my dad opened a Speed Shop to sell race car parts and Andy & I ended up running the speed shop. Andy moved on from driving and now lives in North Carolina and works for a NASCAR team as a finish fabricator. After we closed the Speed Shop, I worked for Stealth race cars in Indianapolis, Indianapolis Raceway Park and then went to work for Hoosier Tire Midwest - Indy, which is one of 3 stores that is the Hoosier Tire Distributor for the Midwest. This coming July I will have worked there 12 years!
So I have been involved in racing my whole life!
I have sooo many! My brother would be my sentimental choice because so many of my racing memories are from going racing with him. Pancho Carter would have to be at the top of my list because he was just a phenomenal racer with such drive and ability, and he has always been such a great friend to our family. Joey Saldana is my favorite current day wing racer. We grew up together going to the USAC races with our fathers. It doesn't hurt that he is married to my childhood best friend and that I adore his children, but I have to say he is a bad ass in a race car, and I am very proud of him and the career he has built.
BUT...of all of the racers over the years that I have watched, when I think of who would be my all time favorite I have to say....Jack Hewitt. I loved to watch him race! I loved to watch him race at Eldora! I was there when he won all four races at the Four Crown and he was Awesome!! I don't agree with everything he has done, but I still love him as a race driver! And I love that when I see him, even now, he gives me a kiss and his mustache tickles!!
What do you do for Hoosier Tires?
My boyfriend, Chuy, would say I am "The Tire Bitch" but my official title, at least on my business card, is Office Manager, which I laugh at because I am the only official "office staff," so I manage me!! I do a lot of customer service, answer questions, take orders and handle accounts as well as manage our Simpson Hoosier Tire Fire suit Program, which we offer to all of our customers who run our tires.
Best racing memory you have to date?
My favorite memory was the first ever sprint car race that my brother won. It was at Lawrenceburg Speedway, the old "Burg,” and the little Indiana Bull Ring that produced fantastic races every Saturday night...not the new, high bank, engine eater, beautiful Lawrenceburg. No I'm talking about the little shitty one that I grew up at practically every Saturday night. My best friend Shannon Ridenour, now Shannon Saldana was with Mom, Dad, Andy & I, as she usually was during those summer weekends. Mom was up in the grandstands for the feature while The Bopper, (which is what we all call my dad) Shannon and I were up on top of the trailer watching. I believe it was a 25 lap feature and we all paced the top of that trailer for 25 straight laps. My friend Shannon was as invested in Andy's racing as any of us. She had been up & down the highways with my family for years going racing with my brother. She was there on the good nights and endured the butt chewing’s on the not so good nights! So she was up there pacing that trailer right along with Dad and me. When Andy came off that fourth turn and took the checkered, I had to reach out and grab both my Dad and Shannon, as they were so excited that they almost walked right off the back of the trailer in their hast to get to victory lane!
Once we all climbed down the ladder, all three of us jumped on the 4-wheeler to ride out to the front stretch. Bopper was driving and I was behind him and Shannon sat backwards behind me on the very back and we linked arms so that she wouldn't fall off. As we went up and over the banking of the 4th turn, Shannon's legs extended out flat and drug up and over the dirt berm. She and I laughed all the way to victory lane! When we got there, my brother unbuckled, climbed out and took off his helmet, which was the biggest smile I have ever seen! We were all so proud of him that night!
Where to you see the sport of dirt track racing headed in the next 5 years?
Wow, I'm not sure, but it is not looking good. With fuel prices where they are, fans are going to be picking and choosing which races they want to see and that is going to hurt the racing overall. We all need to remember that the fan comes first, without them we all don't race so we need to remember that and put on the best races that we can for the fans! We need to find ways to bring in the new fans, the younger fans. There are so many more entertainment options than there used to be, we need to find new ways to get them to spend their entertainment dollars at the races!
If you could change one thing about the current state of winged- and
non-winged sprint car racing what would it be?
On December 13, 2011, my father was at our little shop in Brownsburg which is right next to the main railroad tracks that run through town. He was winterizing his 41' diesel motor home, which was for sale, and when he was done he was going to drive it back to where they store it for the winter. As he started to pull away from our shop, he started to pull across the tracks when, we believe, the motor home stalled, either because it was so low on fuel that the incline made it not pick up the fuel and it got air in the lines or the incline of the tracks made the edge of the asphalt rather deep, which might have made the rear axle of the motor home hang up.
We will never probably know, because an 89 car freight train hit my father in the motor home right behind the driver’s seat, where he was sitting. The impact threw him through the opening of the windshield and out of the RV to about 50 to 70 foot on down the tracks. He does not remember the train or the impact...which is probably a very good thing! He broke 10 ribs on the right, 3 on the left, he broke his right femur 3 times and the left twice and he broke the left foot 3 times, 2 vertebrae and tore his right rotator cuff. Amazingly enough, he was conscious the entire time and was able to tell paramedics his medical history. He had surgery right away to put 4 rods in his legs and then was sedated for about 12 days. The first time we were able to hear him talk to us was Christmas morning when my mom, brother and I went up to the Intensive Care Unit to visit him.
That was truly the best Christmas ever. It was pretty much at that moment I knew he was going to be alright! He was in Methodist Hospital here in Indy for 2 weeks then went to an interim hospital for 2 weeks before moving to a RHI, which is the best rehabilitation hospital in Indianapolis. He was there for one month and made a phenomenal recovery. He was discharged after just two months since the accident and he came home only using a walker to walk with.
We are now just shy of the 5 month mark since the accident and my father is doing so well. It is truly amazing how well he is doing. He has even has now been to two sprint races, we went last weekend to the first ever dirt sprint race on the bull ring at Plymouth Speedway in northern Indiana. The Bopper was the Grand Marshall and got to go down to Victory Lane for pictures with the Winner, The Throttle Shane Cottle and his car owner, our long time friend (and a driver for my father back in the day) Jeff Walker. It meant a lot that Jeff asked him to come to Victory Lane. Now days, after living through all of this, friends mean everything to us. As a matter of fact, Danny Smith was over getting tires today and took the time afterward to go visit my dad at the house. Danny and the whole Smith family have been friends of ours since I was pretty young. Danny was another of my dad's 120-some drivers through the years, and Danny & Stephanie came to see us in at the Hospital just days after the accident.
My dad continues to work his recovery and do his physical therapy and exercises, and still needs to have the rotator cuff repaired but otherwise he is doing GREAT!!!
My dad's recovery has been absolutely amazing. So many people prayed for his recovery, so many were people we didn't even know. That is when you really learn the impact someone has had on the world. And he sure has impacted many lives. My whole family would like to take a moment to thank all of those who took a moment to say a prayer or call or come by to visit and check on him. Without all of the prayers of our family and friends and especially our Racing Family, I don't believe his outcome would have been the same! So Thank You, Thank You so much!!!
What makes you a diva?
Boy, I have never thought of myself as a Diva, but by golly, if I'm
going to be a Diva, I'm going to be a Dirt Diva!! There is not much more
that I love than going to a Dirt Track on a Saturday night to watch a
Dirt Sprint Car race.
Laughter. At my funeral, I would like them to say "She always made me laugh!"
Your motto you live by:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! I hope people can say that I was always nice to them!
My mom & I would also like to
extend a personal Thank You to Camisha. Everyday I would get a prayer or
a word of encouragement texted to me from Camisha and I would share it
with my mother. I don't know how she did it but she always knew what to
say exactly when we needed to hear it. I believe I learned more religion
from Camisha in those first 12 days than I have in the whole rest of my
life! She continues to send me words from God on a daily basis, and I
truly treasure those texts each morning. Usually the first thing I do
when I wake up in the morning is read her texts and get my encouragement
for the day! She is such a precious gift in my life. She is such a good
thing to come out of this crazy event. Thanks Camisha, I love you and I
have never met you! Now that is powerful!!
Susannah I am the thankful one and we have shared precious moments since that day- God had a plan for us to meet even if via text and He has blessed us both with a dear-sweet-amazing friend in Shannon Saldana. I still laugh at your message that I look like Elvis in my sunglasses J I will take that- He is sure my sister’s favorite, and we all know how much I love her! Your father is truly a Miracle from God, and I hope very soon I get to hug him because I know what he has gone through personally and that I can hug your mother and you- I may even bring you some of those glasses for you to wear! Keep up the good work at Hoosier Tires they are extremely fortunate to have you and the blessing has been all mine DIVA!! I know who to call if I need tires…oh wait I have already done that J
ONE-ON-ONE WITH SACHA BALLOU
How did Robert and you meet?
The first time we met was at an MSCS race in Florence, KY in 2007.
I work as a scorer for the series and he was racing for the first time
with our series at this race. The track had a muffler rule of which 80%
of the cars had failed to bring, rather than cancel the whole race we
had to let the show go on as is. Funny enough, Robert had forgotten to
bring something he needed to change the muffler so he was forced to run
with his on to which he felt was very unfair and was pretty vocal about
it (I know you're shocked to hear that ha-ha). Then he went on to win
the feature event to which we all told him he had complained for no
reason. He went on to win our next race after that which was a $10k to
win show at Lawrenceburg. He would chat with me and joke around at the
races but nothing that any other racer hasn't done so I didn't really
pay any attention to him. A couple weeks after that final race I got a
message from him on Facebook that said something along the lines of "you
look really familiar don't I know you from somehow", I replied saying
yes, I work for MSCS and you're the guy that cried about the mufflers.
We went back and forth online until he said he "hates to type on the
computer and can't we just text or talk". For 6 months he kept asking me
out, sending flowers to my office, etc while I kept telling him to go
away - finally a girl I work with told me I had to give him a shot and
now here we are.
Hmmm.....not sure what I can say that's appropriate! Ha-ha! Beyond
that, I would have to say just all the plans we have for the future,
things we want to accomplish, goals we have set, etc.
WINNING of course! I love when we get to go to some tracks on the
West Coast so his family can see him race, living so far away makes it
tough for them to get to a lot of races. We also had so much fun during
our Sprint Week event "Bowling with Ballou" with fans and some other
race teams that we're hoping to repeat it this year and expand upon it.
He truly has some of the best fans and some of them have become what I
consider good friends.
How long have you been involved in racing?
Actually, quite a while - I babysat for Mark Ingersoll (dragster
crew chief and son of Buddy Ingersoll) in middle school and would
occasionally watch his daughters at the races. In the late 90's I worked
as an on-camera pit reporter for a 30 minute television program called
Heartland Racer that aired for a brief time on some networks throughout
the Midwest under former ARCA driver/owner Steve Vardell. I took a break
for a bit after that and moved to Evansville, IN; a co-worker asked me
if I would be interested in working at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt
as a scorer. I said sure and have been working for the Helfrich family
there since 2000 and then joined them when they took over the MSCS
What is your worst racing moment with Robert?
Qualifying (he'll agree on that one) or whenever the whole night
goes to hell. Crashes are to be expected so I don't try to worry over
that excessively and he buys the best safety equipment, but it is the
worst when I have seen him work 12-13 hour days by him-self only to get
to the track and have one thing go wrong after another. He takes it
very personally when they just can't get the set up right or things
continue to go wrong, that usually results in a very long, very quiet
ride home in the Totter- and when Robert Ballou is very quiet you know
something is wrong!
My regular job is working in sales for CBS Television affiliate
WISH-TV in Indianapolis, for Ballou Motorsports I do a little bit of
everything....I maintain the advertising for social networking and run
his contests on his Facebook page, sponsor relations, event planning,
serve as the part picker upper, sometimes I am the "hold this thing here
so I can tighten this whatever", a lot of times I am the lunch go
getter, I try to be the cheerleader and the voice of reason but
sometimes I fail at that miserably!
I think one of the best "attitudes" in a young race driver that
I've seen is J.J. Hughes who is working on a truck ride this year. If
Robert isn't competing against him I will cheer for Chad Boespflug,
Brady Short, Casey Shuman or any of the guys I see regularly at an MSCS
show. I don't "dislike" any of the racers, I understand there are
rivalries and that is part of the sport, but I know a lot of the racers
families or crew guys and they're all just trying to accomplish the same
thing in the end and I have seen them come together and do great things
to support their fellow racers in times of need. Moreso than favorite
drivers I have favorite tracks - love Haubstadt, love Lawrenceburg (when
it’s racy), love Duquoin for the champ cars, have rarely seen a bad race
at Terre Haute.
Are your children into racing? Will they race?
They are totally into racing in the sense that they love a good
track cheeseburger and will go to the race shop and ride their bikes.
They will scrape mud after a race and pick a favorite driver to cheer
for if Robert isn't racing but they haven't said they want to race and
we can only afford one racer in the family so I'm not encouraging it!
There's a lot - off the race track he is really a different person. He really will go out of his way to help people, we have stopped for other race haulers when they're broke down on the side of the road, his old shop was in the back of a daycare for Autistic children and he would always talk to some of the older kids and let them help when they were allowed to. He loves kids and has a ton of patience for them; he taught both my girls to ride their bikes and has pulled their teeth and sat in on parent/teacher conferences. He likes girlie drinks (he'll kill me for that LOL) he truly doesn't like the taste of alcohol or to taste the alcohol in drinks so he likes a good Sour Apple Martini or something fruity and colorful! Although he has a recent fondness for a Tennessee Whiskey named Sweet Lucy but it is a very sweet drink and because he doesn't drink all that often he is a lightweight at holding his liquor (which is a good thing in my book).
What I want most for 2012?
I really, really want to see Robert get a win at Haubstadt and would love to see him get the opportunity to drive a Silver Crown car in Duquoin (it's closest to where I grew up). I'm excited for all the new tracks that USAC has added to the schedule and can't wait for the weekend in Michigan.
What makes you a diva?
What makes me a diva? I don't get rattled easily, being the wife (or girlfriend, or fiancée, mother, sister, etc) of a racer gives you pretty thick skin. You live with rumors and gossip, people talk badly of your man for various reasons, you endure crashes and DNS's - I don't know any woman alive that can be the cheerleader and support system for their husband, son, brother, boyfriend, etc. and not be a diva. I am a diva because you have to be to survive in this sport (and it just makes things more fun!).
I have gotten to know Sacha and Robert very well since my accident- They both have been remarkable through this whole journey and I won one of Sacha’s Facebook trivia questions on Robert’s fan page and I got a t-shirt I wear proudly!! I am on as I continue to heal. Robert told me he was trying to learn French and he would try really hard to say in French in victory lane “I dedicate this win to my Dirt Diva in Wisconsin”- needless to say he hasn’t learned French and I can’t imagine he will have the patience to do so or how funny he would sound on the PA making that statement in French! Sacha cheered for the two teams in the NCAA March Madness tournament that both of my Wisconsin teams played- so as I write this- we are not friends because they lost! LOL! In all seriousness, I cannot wait to see them both in June when they travel to Wisconsin for two races and I look forward to helping them out and hugging them both!!
As a tribute to our wonderful race friend Anita Zwern I have had the opportunity again to sit down with fellow Dirt Diva's to gain their love and amazing memories of Anita:
Favorite memory only one with Anita by Robyn Meyers:
I will never forget showing up at Williams Grove Speedway for the first time. I saw Anita and she had invited me to sit with her up in the backstretch grandstands. Little did I know what I would be in for……LOL? I met some very nice people and some very drunk people and got a taste for what real competitive people are like at the track. (At this point I was somewhat new to the racing scene and you all know I am not that competitive. My husband doesn’t like that I am satisfied with him just trying his best….LOL) Nothing like meeting the Posse Vs. The Outlaws, but the Pennsylvanians were happy to have me sitting there with them. It was the beginning of my friendship with Anita and the beginning of having a friend to sit with at the race tracks. She would come over every night and tell me she had saved a seat for us to sit. It is so comforting having someone close to sit with when our husbands are out risking their life to make a living. (Dirt Divas, you all know the feeling)
How do you know her: I know Anita because I met her racing in California. She lived in California for quite some time and would always be out supporting our local tracks and drivers. She would always come by and say hi and always had the answers and stats throughout the night when I had no idea of what was going on or how the formats worked.
What is one word that you could describe her in: I would describe Anita as “Devoted”. She devoted her life to racing and her friends.
If you could write her write now a text, e-mail or even leave a phone message what would you say: I wish you were here for just one last lunch, Or one last race celebrating life with our “Bunch”. I wish you were here for one more chat, one last time to hear about your latest spat. I miss you so much, words can’t explain, but I rely on the fact that God needed you, I can’t complain. I will always remember you; I will always reminisce the times I spent with you. Your loyalty and memories will always last with WoO! - Love always- Robyn!
Shannon Saldana writes. I met Anita back in 1996 when Joey first went on the World of Outlaws Tour. My friend Steven Gomez introduced me to Anita. It truly is hard to pick one favorite memory because I have a lot of them. I would have to say one of my favorite memories would be when I rode with her to Pevely. We left Pittsboro and drove the back roads through parts of Indiana until we got on I-70. Not long after we got on the interstate she started getting upset and hollering at the semi drivers. She would get angry with their driving (they weren't even doing anything wrong) and she said why are there so many semi's on the interstate anyway? I just laughed and laughed and said well Anita I-70 is the crossroads of America. I don't think she cared for my answer and she continued to get so worked up the entire trip. We did arrive safely through and it was a memorable trip.
Best way to describe Anita: UNIQUE!
If I could leave Anita a message I would have so much to say. I guess this always the case though when you know you will never get to speak to that person here on earth again. Anyway, I would tell Anita that I have enjoyed the many laughs and smiles she has given me. I would thank her for her friendship and I would tell her how much I'm going to miss seeing her at the races and getting all the scoop on how qualifying times were and the lineups and finishes. I will miss her stopping by my trailer to ask me do you have any new ladies designs. I'm even going to miss the times she would get so upset with someone and spout out a few choice words.
I'm truly going to miss my friend Anita and it is going to seem strange that I won't be getting a phone call or text asking if I want to do lunch with the girls. Anita was a very special and unique person and all of those that were blessed to know her will feel the same no doubt. I have a saved voicemail she left me just after Christmas and I have listened to it several times and it makes me very sad, but I know in time it will get easier to listen to and it will even bring a smile to my face to hear her voice. We should all remember to let our friends and loved ones know how much we care about them because we just never know when our last day on earth will be- Love Shannon!
My Favorite Memory of Anita from Angie Hannagan: Wow, I really have more than one favorite so this is a very hard question for me to answer. So I will name a few and be very terse about it and the things that she did to make me laugh were the favorites for me. 1. Her mouse situation. Called me one night at 10:30 to come and scoop that mouse up that had expired somehow in the middle of her closet. After 2 calls and 30 minutes later I convinced her to just do it. She almost always seemed to get me into a fight if I sat with her in the grandstands at the races. I know Anita through Randy; his family has known Anita for over 20 years. She actually started out not liking me at all, over some different circumstances. However, it didn't take long before the strangest thing happened, we became really great friends. She even ended up moving 1/2 mile from us. Her reply was always the same to me and had told others her feelings on me. "I didn't like you at first but then one day I was forced to speak to you and I realized you told it like it is and I like that about you." Her words exactly because Anita was not censored, if she had something to say she did. I admire that in people.
My one word to describe her: Decided
My message to Anita would be: Dear Anita, we started out oh so rocky, but in the end we found that we were a lot alike in that we always spoke what was on our mind. For that my friend was a blessing to me. You provided me with so many funny times. Remember all the times you called Randy or me to see if we could run diagnostics on your rental cars when you were 800 miles away. I will miss the calls from when your plane would get delayed yet again. See, I told you to not fly into Chicago, I warned you about that place. And Anita, I know you can get that mouse picked up and thrown in the garbage, you can do it, I know you can. I know how much you loved food, God knows the times we actually had meals together were too many to even count. Sorry I got you hooked on Hurricane’s, which was the very last place we dined together, every time I go there I will think how much you had come to love eating there but wouldn't dare eat that spicy stuff. I will cherish every moment that we spent together and will miss your friendship. You’re deeply imbedded into my memory from the way you walked, talked and how you could somehow manage to make me laugh and be shocked to say, oh my, did you just say that. Ha-Ha! No other one will ever tell me again, Make it a great day! Only one Anita and you will so be missed! - Love Ms. Hurricane!
Carla Rae Herrera stated: My heart is heavy imagining Anita is away from us I have searched my heart and soul and cannot pinpoint when exactly I met her, only she appeared and was a constant friend. Truly the way an Angel appears. My dearest memories would be just being there with a smile, a story, generous concern. Life is hard some days and Anita was obviously an angel...if only we could all be this was. Status was not her forte, but rather the value of her friends and her love for all things race related and those of us fortunate enough to be a part of her life. Never have I known someone dedicated to our sport and loved by so many in our sport. Anita was Sprint Car Racing’s Mascot and ambassador. A great fan was lost, but even a greater friend and woman.
I will never forget Anita and have a photo of Johnny and Steven Gomez with Anita in happier times that I shall cherish forever. My hope is we can all work together to pay tribute Anita in a fitting was. Maybe a brick at the NschoF as she would have been thrilled. All my love Anita and to all my friends who I haven't mentioned that to lately. Loving one another is what Anita would have wanted. Tell someone you haven't told in some time that you love and cherish them.
If I could write a text today I would simply say: I love you, I miss you, and please watch over us and our husbands and children our racing Angel. My heart is heavy imagining Anita is away from us I have searched my heart and soul and cannot pinpoint when exactly I met her, only she appeared and was a constant friend. Truly the way an Angel appears. My dearest memories would be just being there with a smile, a story, generous concern.
Mandy Pittman reflects: My favorite memory only one with Anita: Going to our monthly girl luncheons at Asia Wok or the Japanese Steakhouse.
How do you know her: I meet Anita while Daryn was racing on the WOO tour. She would bring me and Robyn Meyers the time trial results at the merchandise trailer and then save us seats so that we could run up in the stands watch the races and return to the merchandise trailers!
What is one word that you could describe her in: UNFORGETTABLE!
If you could write her write now a text, e-mail or even leave a phone message what would you say: You are missed more than you know!! You truly are a special person! –Love you-Mandy
Favorite memory only one with Anita from Jan McMahan: Oh my goodness I have so many. Lots that she made me laugh until I cried. But I think one memory that stands out in my mind with her is when Paul was racing the #20 Bass Pro car for TSR and I was in my little T-shirt trailer and was very busy with a line at my window. She came walking up through everyone propped her elbow up on my counter and said "Well, Paul really sucked qualifying! He looked like real Sh*t!" I couldn't help but laugh at the way she bluntly put it. I loved her for that!
What is one word that you could describe her in: UNFORGETTABLE
If you could write her write now a text, e-mail or even leave a phone message what would you say: Hey Anita! I just wanted you to know that I love you! I can't begin to tell you how my life was better because God put you in my path. I can't begin to thank you for all of the laughs you have given me over the years and for all the updates at the races. We will ALL miss you and we will see you again. - I love you- Jan!
Anita was truly a wonderful person who always made me laugh, and it is my honor to talk with the entire fellow Dirt Diva’s to put something together to remember her by. I had the pleasure of meeting her years ago when I toured with the WOO and she always kept me up to date on how things were going on and who was who because I was busy working. She loved one of my favorite home tracks in Beaver Dam, WI used to be known as Powercom but is now Charter, and this year I will miss not being greeted by her in person when the WOO return there but I know she is always with us and is the staple of a DIVA!!-I Love you and we will always remember you Anita- Love, Camisha Miller
One-on-One With Angie Hannagan:
How did Randy & You Meet:
It was at Attica, Ohio at an All Star race. I remember thinking who is this guy with the big rig? I had my Yorkie pup with me that night and he reached over to pet my dog and my dog snipped at him. Actually I think he was more interested in the Yorkie! Over the next few months we had several long chats and eventually we both realized that we were soul mates and nothing would keep us apart. That was 8 years ago this coming April. I came from a die hard, non-wing racing family, so the simple fact that I was at a winged show was a feat in itself. I have been told everything happens for a reason, I believe that whole heartedly.
What is your favorite race track:
Eldora, I grew up in Greenville, Ohio. My Grandparents fielded non-wing sprint cars for many great drivers and Eldora is a place I have been to more times then I could possibly count. Ironically Eldora is one of Randy’s favorites too. He’s had several wins there since we met in both the 410 and 360 sprints-I love it more when he wins!!
What do you do for a living:
I deal in liquidation sales and estate sales. I buy items for pennies on the dollar and turn around and sell them mainly on eBay. There are several people that I sell goods for as well-mostly antiques. I will sell anything I can make money on. From toilet lids to toasters, if it’s a good deal I buy and sell it. Currently I am working on becoming a personal trainer and getting my nutrition certificate. I need to constantly be running around with my hair on fire or I’m not living.
Through all of Randy’s terrible family tragedies- how was racing a part of that, good or bad:
I can honestly say I have never met anyone that has had more family tragedies then the Hannagan Family. It’s all been so sad in what I would call a good way (he would strongly disagree), is that much of Randy’s resources, financially have been removed. Where he would have never drove for someone else before, he started to do that and it’s been a really fun year of racing this year. He teamed up with Dennis Yoakam out of Ohio this year and won several races as well as the NRA Championship. For the first time in a few years we had a lot of fun racing. As for the bad……Nothing, we try to remain positive at all times. We are both very strong personalities so nothing and no-one will get us down. Giving up is never an option it only makes me fight harder. If I gave up that makes me a quitter and that word is not in my vocabulary.
Who is your favorite driver & it can’t be your husband:
Sammy Swindell!! When I was young my parents occasionally would take me to the Kings Royal, and it was the only winged races I had ever been to. I liked the guy they hated the most. He seemed to get booed quite a bit, therefore I always cheered for him. After I met Randy he informed me that Sammy was a huge part of his racing success. Sammy sort of took Randy under his wing and to this day Randy looks up to Sammy and how he does things. I’d say he patterns his way of doing things like Sammy taught him to do. In light of that, I have a lot of respect for Amy Swindell. She stands by her husband/son no matter what and she’s been criticized by some. In the end how can you find fault in a wife for standing by her husband and defending him? Some wives have found a way to stay out of the mix. Those are the sweet gals who are loved and adored by all. I have and will continue to stand by Randy. Bottom line is, it may be my husband involved but at the very least, it affects my life just as it does his.
How active are you with his racing:
I am very active with his racing. I encourage him to race as much as he can. He has a passion to race, and I have a passion for racing. I want him to be able to do what it is that he loves to do. I love it as much as he does, just in a different way. Like a few other wives, we were born into this sport. At times that is a bad thing, I would like to be able to sit back without having an opinion but it’s hard to when your whole life has been spent with a racing family and your very in tune to what is going on. We actually bounce a lot of stuff off of each other and constantly talk about racing in our house. There are times that you get that look after the feature event and you know you should keep your mouth shut but you don’t and then it’s on. Randy has, on a number of occasions, offered me his seat and steering wheel!!J
Do you miss traveling full-time for racing:
I can honestly say I don’t miss it one bit. We did that for 3 years when our son, Mason was just a baby and it was fine. Now he’s in school and if Randy were traveling full time he would miss a lot of firsts with him. What I do miss is some of the awesome places we’d visit each year. I think Randy is happy racing the schedule he does now, which enables him to be home during the week. I hope he doesn’t choose to go back out full time but if he decided he needed or wanted too, we’d make it work and I’d stand behind him 100%.
Your favorite motto to live by:
From one of the people I admire in the world, Jillian Michaels. “The worst advice I ever got was to be diplomatic, because it compromised my authentic truth. Don’t fight this, don’t stand up for that; be a good girl; don’t be a troublemaker – bleep you!” Anyone that truly knows me knows this defines my personality. I am not scripted, not diplomatic, but always brutally honest.
Favorite memory with Randy’s racing:
All of the hours we spent traveling on the road are my favorite memories, because we created memories that will last a lifetime. A particular race was his World of Outlaw win at Tulare shortly after his mom passed away and a week after him, and I finally got married in Las Vegas. I was at home and screaming so loud the pitch of my voice knocked a picture over.
What makes you a Diva:
I actually looked up Diva in the thesaurus to find a different/defining word that would classify me in the Diva category. Prima Donna is the actual definition. I’d say Prima Pain at times, never a Diva. Maybe from the outside I appear to be a diva. I’m very simple, very low maintenance.
This is a very personal interview to me because of the serious accident that occurred in July with me- this is my first interview since that time, and it has only been four months, and I am typing and able to put this together- I am extremely blessed! Randy and Angie have been wonderful through this whole thing sending prayers for me to heal and get better, and keeping up with my progress. I appreciate Angie taking the time to do the interview and they have been long time amazing friends of mine- I have even spent long days at their shop and house when I traveled with the Outlaws. I wanted to take time also to thank everyone who has been praying for my family and me through this accident- it really means a lot to all of us, and I am extremely blessed again to be heavily involved in the racing community- as you know they all come together when they need too and they did for me, and I have faith they will continue too!
One-on-One with Amy Tatnell
How did Brook and you meet?We met in 1991 shortly before the Knoxville Nationals. It was his first trip to
America to race and he was with his Dad George. He had a really bad crash I can remember saying what are we
doing letting these Aussie come and run here at Knoxville all they do is tear up! ha! Little did I know I would end
up with one.
Will your children race?If they want to... we will support both of them in the sports they choose and not push
anything on them. Our daughter wanted to take dance class last summer and not being a "dance mom" I
supported her and took her to class not my choice of sports.
What differences if any are there between racing in Australia vs. Here?Yes, there are a lot of differences
between American and Aussie racing. I think the biggest for me is we don't have the conveniences that we do
here in America. We can stay in our motor home here until Brooke goes out on the track here in America and in
Australia we are pretty much on our own in the stands or in some cases we are lucky enough to sit in the
corporate facilities like at the Classic which is very nice. I think racing in Australia is more like it used to be here
years ago where most of the teams hang out together and it's not as corporate as America as made it today. I
could go on and on about this question....the hot dogs are a funny color and taste terrible, dim sims are
something you don't serve at a racetrack and when you ask for a hamburger with "the lot" you get the entire
lot!!!! and when you want a corn dog you better ask for a "pluto pup" again I could elaborate on this all good of
course nothing against me Aussie mates. I think that Australians do a fantastic job of promoting races like the
Classic, its an unbelievable weekend of racing and the meet and greet and all the corporate facilitates they have.
We could take a few lessons in the States from the Aussie's on promotion.
Your favorite race track?I have a few but I really like Spencer, Iowa the Clay County Fair in 1979 I can
remember my Dad and Wolfie put on one of the greatest races I have ever watched and my Dad beat Wolfie that
day it was awesome. It was really nice to go back there when the WOO returned I have lots of fond memories of
being there with my Family as a child and I was happy to share those memories with our daughter. The best
Aussie tracks I love Warrnambool, Victoria and Speedway City in Adelaide, South Australia.
Biggest accomplishment you feel your team has?In 2010 we won 2 Outlaw shows and that was a big
accomplishment considering the very small budget we had. We won the first one at Knoxville and the other at
McCool Junction, NE. It was awesome for Brooke and the #59 Team to win the Outlaw show at Knoxville but we
started on the front row and most people said that that's the only reason he won. When we won the 2nd one at
McCool Junction we started in like the 3rd row and and I was listening on dirt-vision and I remember thinking to
myself a top 5 would be impressive tonight and it was almost 1am and getting up to listen to the rest of the race.
What an accomplishment considering Brooke had to decide if we even had enough in the race account to get
there we also had problems with our truck on the way there. No one can take that one away.
What are the plans for this season?We are racing the #59 car owned by Tom and Sherry Leidig this year and
are happy to have on board as a partner Ray Evernham. When we are not running the #59 car we plan to do
some select races with the #14 360 car owned by John Nelson (Protofab Engineering) out of Blaine, MN. I also
Plan to show our horse (American Saddlbred mare) that we have raised for the past 4 years and also return to
some running races and hopefully a triathlon sometime this summer.
What makes you a diva?I certainly don't consider myself a "Diva" I am a mother, wife and I love sprint car
racing!! not sure if that qualifies as a "DIVA" Its funny when you asked me to do this I was volunteering at our
church for a funeral and I said WOW what a title "Church lady" by day and Dirt Diva by night!! HAHA
How do you handle owning your own team? What part do you have in it?We do not own the #59 but we do
run the operation out of our very small shop here in Forest Lake. I do the handle most PR and also the
merchandise and day to day operations the important stuff you know like making the lunches!!
Your motto you live by?Don't tell me what to do!
**I also handle a lot of the behind the scenes at the Jerry Richert Memorial race. We are in our 11th year
of the race and it continues to grow each year. Our Family (Richert's) hold it each year the second week
of September at Cedar Lake Speedway. It is one of the only races in the Midwest consisting of an all
sprint car show 410's and 360's. I grew up racing with my Father racing and towards the end of his
career my brother (Jerry Jr.) started his career and continued the tradition. I often wish that I would have
gotten the opportunity to race a sprint car and it is the one thing in my life that I have never done and
will do one day. I am an avid sprint car history buff for sprint car racing in the Midwest.
I got to know Brooke while I worked for the WOO and I was able to travel “down under”
for my job with them and he was a great host and made sure we all understood what
certain things meant and what types of food we were going to eat! I met Amy at the
Nationals a few years back listening to the band after the races and Brooke and her
have an amazing connection it was inspiring to be with them and watch how much
respect they both have for each other even after a bad night of racing. They both are
great ambassadors for the sport and Amy you are a DIVA not only by the night!!
One-on-One with Danelle Cottle
How did you and your husband meet? At the races, I will explain in the other question :)
What is your favorite racing memory? I love thinking back to the times when I used to race. It was a family event to hop in the suburban and head to Ohio. I loved listening to all the stories my dad, Uncle Dick and family Friend Clifford Stephens would share, while my mom and aunt would be singing to the Oldies on the radio. Good Times, for sure!
Do you or have you ever raced? Yes, I did. I was in my 3rd year of running mini sprints and it was Shane's first year. The first time we raced together, I was in a nasty accident. I spent a week at Methodist. During my hospital stay, Shane sent me flowers and well wishes. I don't remember anything about that day so I was interested in finding out who he was. Since it was the middle of the season, we had someone else drive my car to finish out the year. I went to help out on the car. Before the races started we ran into each other and made small talk. I didn't talk to him again until the racing banquet that winter. They had a DJ and Shane asked me to dance. During that dance he leaned over and kissed me. I was shocked. I didn't know whether to punch him in the nose or kiss him back. I gave him my number and we maintained a long distance relationship for 7 years before we were married. That first kiss was 20 years ago :)
Your favorite race track? Kokomo, why? 1. I have been going there since I was in diapers! 2. It is only a few miles from our house! 3. It offers the BEST dirt track racing in the country with some of the best drivers every single week! 4. We think the O’Connor’s are great people!
advice would you give out to those families just starting out?
If you don't support each other, it will never
work. Be prepared for everything to revolve around racing. Our wedding,
the kid’s birthdays, vacations, even Christmas with family has all been
planning around the racing schedule. When the kids were babies, we had a
motor home so I could take them with us. Now, I don't get to go to very
many races because our kids are involved in so many sports. You have to
LOVE the sport to understand and if you understand then you are in for
an awesome experience. You will have a new family, a racing family for
I have had the privilege to watch Shane race several times, and I have enjoyed meeting Danelle along the way. She is her husband’s biggest fan you can certainly tell that by watching a race with her, and I wish them the best of luck this season. She is right on with her Diva response and she is one of the kindest most genuine people I have ever met J
One-on-One with Barb Eisentraut
How did Rob and you meet?
I knew Rob's
brother Dave first. Dave had a huge b-day party one year and a friend of
mine and I went. There was this guy who was taking money at the door and
I instantly fell in love!!!!! He called me the next day and we've been
together ever since and that was in March 1994. We officially hit 14
years of marriage on the 3rd of August.
have come back into the business whole heartedly. Together we are coming
up with new products to sell at the table under the grandstand. We are
expanding our vinyl stickers also. I still don't really have much to do
with the photography side of it except for ordering.
business who deals with all race drivers and their family and fans, I
really shouldn't answer that. lol!!!! (GOOD ANSWER but you could
have said the #15M sprint car driven by Justin Miller- LOLJ)
I have a
small digital camera that I take for like trips to the park and stuff
like that, but otherwise I let Rob take all the photos!!!!
I have a
calendar that I would be lost without. I have it color coded. Rob, Simon
and I each have a color. Everything is written in my calendar otherwise
it doesn't exist. Even the bills have a color...LOL!!!!
don't think of myself as a diva. I am wife and mother who is very
dedicated in seeing that all their dreams and goals come true.
I would have
to say Plymouth because that’s where most of the time is spent.
Rob makes me
the most nervous. He stands so close to the edge of the track as the
cars are racing by. I am so afraid that one day I will see him hit by a
When things get rough or I have a bad day I just remember that “God will only give you what you can handle.”
I got to know Barb really well this year as RC Custom Design is a sponsor of our High Flyers Motorsports team, and I truly adore their son Simon. Simon and are “buds” and every time we may have to go to pick something up from their house- it is not argument that I actually want to go along! Barb sat next me this year at Dodge County at an IRA/MSA sprint car show and I laughed so hard that night at how cute those two are texting back and forth while he is out in the middle of the infield shooting photos-and she yelled at me when I told her where he actually was shooting from since she did not want to know- then she would be less nervous watching him! They love each other dearly, and we are lucky to call them our dear friends and thank them for all of their help this season too! Visit: www.rccustomdesign.com
Camisha Miller: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Copyright © 2011 by "Hosehead's Sprint Car Photos & News." Do not reproduce anything from these pages without the permission of the photographers, writers or webmaster.
Hosehead's Sprint Car Photos & News,PO Box 42, Drums PA 18222-0042