Growing up, I remember giving a sigh of disgust whenever I saw the words “NASCAR” or “IndyCar” on my TV screen. Back in high school, if you would have told me that I would be a diehard race fan in college, I would have laughed. If you would have told me that I would be planning my entire life around racing, I would have called you crazy. Indeed, I caught the racing bug the beginning of my freshman year in college and have not looked back since.
I had always known about racing, at least, in some aspect. I could have told you Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt were racecar drivers but that was about it. I have been a fan of Danica Patrick for years, but not because of her driving. As an athlete in high school, I perceived racing as a joke and I didn’t think of the drivers to be real athletes. Anyone can sit behind the wheel of a car. It wasn’t until I actually sat down and watched a few races that I realized that these people are true athletes.
My addiction to racing started one weekend afternoon in the fall of 2010, when I was sitting in my dorm room at college doing everything possible to focus on my homework. Flipping through the channels, I noticed a NASCAR race was on TV. I thought it would be the perfect thing to keep on as background noise as I tried to write a paper. Needless to say, my paper did not get done that day, as I could not take my eyes off the race! A sport that I had dismissed for virtually all of my life, I spent the rest of the night reading and learning all that I could about racing.
The pivotal moment that solidified racing in my life was the 2011 IndyCar Finale in Las Vegas. It was Danica Patrick’s last race before moving to NASCAR full time and it was supposed to be a good show. Little did anyone know that before the end of the day, IndyCar Racing was going to lose one of its biggest and brightest stars after Dan Wheldon was killed in a horrific accident. Seeing the camaraderie between the drivers, crews, media and teams showed what a great sport racing really is as well as the human side of motorsports.
I continued honing in on my racing knowledge as the NASCAR season came to a close and waited patiently for the Daytona 500. Needless to say, I was hooked on racing and nothing was going to change that. During the sport’s offseason, I dove head first into the 2012 NASCAR season with everything I had. A sign that racing became a part of my life was when I switched my major in school to mass communications with a dream of being the next big NASCAR broadcaster. I started writing for a few racing websites and would research tracks and past results before race weekends. Friends and family who don’t watch racing still get annoyed with my constant racing references.
Last fall, I attended my first race, which was the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. My dad, not really a racing fan, and I spent the entire weekend at the track. While I was there, I got to meet one of my biggest idols, Danica Patrick, before the Nationwide race, thanks to TISSOT and Kansas Speedway. As previously mentioned, I have been a fan of Danica for a long time, even before I got into racing. As someone who watched a loved one suffer with COPD and then lung cancer, her campaign hits close to home.
Seeing what she has done for women in racing, both on and off the track, is something I admire. I want to be the first female to broadcast from the booth, as I want to do racing play-by-play. I want my voice to be heard all over the world. Knowing that she never backed down from her dreams and achieved them makes me work as hard as I can to achieve mine.
Racing is a big part of my life. If I could be at the track every weekend, I would be the happiest girl in the world. I have met so many amazing people through racing, whether it is in person or through social media. Race fans are truly one of a kind and loyal. One thing is for sure, I have caught the race bug, and I don’t want to give it back. And if you are wondering about my dad, let’s just say the bug is slowly making its way to him and it won’t be long before he too, is an avid fan like his daughter.