When I was young, I never thought that I would be interested in sports or cars. I was just a normal girl growing up in New Jersey: reading books, playing instruments, going to school, and playing with my friends. It was up until a few years ago that I was like this. Then, my whole life made a complete 180. My parents got divorced and my mom and I moved to a rural town just 20 minutes away from my first home. My mom soon found a new boyfriend who was nothing like my dad. He was a plumber, enjoyed hunting and fishing, and watched sports. One Sunday in November of 2010, he came over and turned on the NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale in Homestead. At this point, I had never even heard of NASCAR and I had no desire to watch sporting events of any kind. But, that day, something drew me to the TV and I watched the entire race, from the national anthem to the victory lane celebration.
That day changed my life forever. Not only was I exposed to something completely new, but it changed my whole outlook on my life. Jimmie Johnson automatically became my favorite driver since he won the championship that year and NASCAR became the one and only sport that I watched. I spent the 2011 season watching every single Cup race and seeing Jimmie's championship streak end with a dead tie in points between Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart.
I went to my first race in June of 2011 at Dover International Speedway. As soon as I got to the track, I knew that I was somewhere special. Watching a race from the stands was a completely new perspective compared to sitting on the couch in front of the TV. Despite the excessive heat and the not-so-exciting finish (Matt Kenseth won), it was the experience of a lifetime. My family and I have been going to Dover every summer since then.
Then, we discovered two very different tracks that were even closer to our home. Wall Speedway and New Jersey Motorsports Park were both within two hours of my hometown of Flemington. Both tracks offered me new opportunities that I will never forget. At Wall Stadium, I met my hometown heroes and got the opportunity to become great friends with many of them. Three of them deserve honorable mentions, as they are not only close friends of mine, but have given me a new insight to the sport that I hold dear: Derek Hopkinson in the Modified division, Dominick Casola in the Street Stock and Late Model divisions, and Josh Matthews in the Factory Stock division.
The New Jersey Motorsports Park has given me an even larger opportunity in an even bigger series. The winding road course in south Jersey has introduced me to drivers and teams who have made it to the big leagues in stock car racing. The ARCA Racing Series comes to NJMP every summer, where some of the young guns take their skills to the road course for the first time, one of them being Chase Elliott. As with Wall Speedway, I have made some close friendships at NJMP, especially with smaller, lesser-funded teams. My future goal is to be able to give these teams an opportunity to compete with the top guns in NASCAR by providing them with competitive equipment.
I am sixteen years old and my long journey through racing has just begun. In 2014, I will be faced with new challenges to overcome and new people to meet. I have so many people to thank for the opportunities I have been given this year. First, to Roger and Dana Carter, for allowing me to create the official Facebook fan page for Carter 2 Motorsports, a Dodge ARCA team. I keep fans up to date on what is happening on and off the track. Second, to all of my racing family from near and far, for believing in me and pushing me to succeed. This blog is the first of many that I will write about my journey through racing. I will write another series called "Ten Seconds to Victory", which will be about the inner workings of NASCAR race teams and how they prepare for a typical race weekend. Please follow the links below to find information about the teams and tracks that I have mentioned!