Dedicated, motivated, hard working: those are just some of the words to describe dirt track racer Shannon Mudro. What started out a mother-daughter outing to the local track turned into a hobby that her whole family could enjoy.
“A month from that first night at the dirt track I had my own racecar sitting in the garage,” Mudro said. “A month after that I was starting my first race at the age of 15. I don’t think I have ever begged so much for something!“
The begging worked and quickly turned into something her whole family could enjoy on the weekends. “Some families go on vacations, some families have weekly game nights, but my family chose to spend their weekends at the racetrack having fun together,” said Mudro. “Racing is our fun hobby!”
Now, just a year and a half from completing her Bachelors Degree in the Science of Nursing from the University of St. Francis, Mudro looks back at her time on the track and back to her first top-10 finish, right before losing her uncle.
“I had started 19th in a 20-car field, and I remember rolling my eyes at my uncle when he told me that I’d get my first top-10 that night,” Mudro recalls, “my first top-10 in the modified (was) just two weeks before losing my biggest fan.”
If it wasn’t for her family and their endless hours of work they have put into her career over the years, Mudro says she wouldn’t be racing.
“My family has easily been the most important factors in my journey thus far. I can count on them to support me, reassure me, inspire me and even kick me in the rear when I need it.”
All of that support has taught her to work hard for everything she wants, including her education. As a full time student athlete playing tennis at the University of St. Francis, Mudro is also a member of the Delta Epsilon Sigma national honor society.
“In all reality,” she says, “I don’t have much of a so-called social life.”
With what little free time she has, Mudro spends it doing service work. Currently fundraising for a mission trip to Bolivia in June, she hopes to raise enough money to take this once in a lifetime trip.
“I felt a calling to engage in a unique experience…I will participating in the Diocese of Joliet's Annual Mission Trip to Sucre, Bolivia,” Mudro revealed. “During this trip to Bolivia, I hope to make an impact on the lives of those living in Sucre… working with individuals in daycare centers, hospitals and orphanages.”
Between racing, tennis, service work and school, Mudro has maintained a 3.8GPA, an outstanding feat in itself. But at the end of the day, racing is still in her blood.
So what does Mudro’s future in racing hold? She wants to continue to have fun out on the track.
“My dream is to continue having fun racing with my family,” Mudro says, “regardless of what series, class or division we’re racing in because if we’re not having fun doing it, then what’s the point?!”
If you want to help Shannon and her mission trip to Bolivia, check out her GoFundMe site at http://www.gofundme.com/5frh70
She’s an animal lover, a daughter, a friend and a racer. Cassie Gannis knew she wanted to get behind the wheel at a young age and when she finally got her chance, her life was never the same.
“I got started in racing by watching my Dad race his Dwarf car at Manzanita Raceway. After that, all I wanted to do was watch racing,” Gannis said. “While my sister was watching Sesame Street, all I wanted to do was watch cars go around in circles!”
Every weekend, Gannis would ask her parents to turn on the race. When she played outside, she would race the neighborhood kids on her bike. Racing was in her blood before she even got behind the wheel for herself. At 10 years old, Gannis found herself in a quarter midget car for the first time and like they say, the rest is history.
Gannis took the quarter midget world by storm shortly after she got behind the wheel. Consistently placing in the top-5, Gannis moved up the ranks. In 2003, she earned the Arizona State Championship in the Bandolero Series. In 2005, she moved up to Legends where she earned Rookie of the Year honors. At 16, she earned her NASCAR License and became the youngest female to compete at Tucson Raceway Park. Gannis was making a name for herself in the world of racing and people were beginning to notice.
In 2009, 2010 and 2011, Gannis was one of thirty drivers chosen for NASCAR’s “Drive for Diversity” program and by 2012, she was racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West where she was voted as their “Most Popular Driver,” a moment that she says is one of the biggest moments in her career.
As her NASCAR career continues to grow, Gannis is learning firsthand just how important sponsorship really is.
“It is very hard to find sponsors for a small team,” Gannis said about sponsorship. “We are just a family owned/low budget team and we don't have the marketing resources that others may have.”
Throughout her racing career, her family has been by her side. With a big family work ethic and strong values, her family is always pitching in to help with her race team.
Gannis has had the opportunity to talk with different race teams but a racing resume can only go so far without sponsorship backing.
“As a driver I want and would love to move up in NASCAR,” Gannis said. “I have interviewed with teams and have been offered rides based on my racing resume but you still need to bring sponsorship dollars along for the ride.”
In 2013, Gannis had the opportunity of a lifetime when she was one of nine drivers chosen to compete in the PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge in Charlotte, North Carolina. Handpicked by PEAK and Driver/Owner Michael Waltrip, Gannis competed in a 3-day “Showdown in Charlotte” with instruction from NASCAR stars Mark Martin, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers.
The showdown, which aired on SPEED in early August, was a great opportunity for Gannis to show off her talents to some of NASCAR’s most influential people.
“First off, it was so wonderful for PEAK to provide such a wonderful opportunity,” Gannis said, thinking back to the challenge. “It was great to get the fans involved in voting and it was a lot of fun to be so engaged with them on social media. PEAK and Michael Waltrip provided an opportunity for the top nine drivers to showcase their talent. It was such an honor to be called to North Carolina. It was an experience I will never forget!”
Without the love and support from her family, friends, mentors and fans, opportunities like the PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge would not have been possible.
“They (my family) have always been by my side supporting me every step of the way,” Gannis said. “Monty Shaw has been with me working on all my cars since Quarter Midgets. I also have a few mentors that I look up and I frequently call. One is Christi Edelbrock. She is a great sounding board for any questions or concerns I may have.”
When she is not in the car or at the racetrack, Gannis is spending time with her family, friends and pets.
“I love spending time with my dogs! I have 3 great rescue pets. All from shelters. Their names are Hobo, Coco and Oreo.”
For Gannis, her dream is clear and something she strives for each and every day. She dreams of one day working her way up through the ranks of NASCAR and in to the Sprint Cup Series, winning races and championships for her sponsor, team and fans.
Gannis in no doubt one of the future stars in the stock car industry and it won’t be long before she will be making national headlines.
Follow Cassie on Twitter: @CassieGannis
LIKE her on Facebook: Cassie Gannis
A passion that began generations before her, Carrie Whitmore was born with a love for NASCAR racing through her veins.
"When I was growing up, my parents and grandparents were huge NASCAR fans," said Whitmore. "There were a lot of Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, and Dale Jarrett fans between us."
Whitmore's first real exposure to the sport came at a somber time, at Rockingham Speedway in February of 2001, right after the death of one of NASCAR's greatest drivers: Dale Earnhardt
"I remember seeing his memorial at The Rock," she said. "I was 7 years old and didn’t quite understand then, but now I know what an important moment it was in the sport. It changed the sport forever."
It was her freshman year in high school when she realized that the world of motorsports was going to be her permanent home. She joined her schools newspaper her sophomore year and by her senior year, she had earned the title of Sports Editor.
"That was basically the highlight of my whole high school journalistic career," Whitmore said. "My other highlight was interviewing two professional athletes for the paper. One was professional hockey player, Andrew Gordon, and the other was professional snowboarder, and Olympian, Elena Hight"
Now a junior in college, Whitmore has expanded her journalistic abilities to include more than just motorsports, but professional hockey as well. Writing for multiple sports websites, Whitmore is getting that much needed experience to become a professional journalist.
"Writing for these websites have given me professional experience as a writer, working in the fast pace world of sports. I think it has given me more experience than writing for the college newspaper ever could," she said.
For Whitmore, her family has been the rock behind her passion for motorsports. 100% supportive of her dreams, her family has told her that she can do anything she sets her mind to, something she takes to heart.
"My father has Multiple Sclerosis and I see him struggle to just walk every day," Whitmore said. "Before he was diagnosed with MS, I would find myself complaining about stupid things on a daily basis and making excuses all the time.
"I see him get up every day and go to work without one complaint, even though I know he’s in pain. He doesn’t ask for help to do anything. This has inspired me greatly. It has given me the motivation to not make excuses and to not let anything stand in my way of achieving my dream. It gives me the motivation to give 100% in whatever I do"
Her family has been her main source of support but there are others who have helped her to achieve her dreams. If it wasn't for those who gave her a chance to write for their website, the experience she has gained would be far less.
"The biggest key person in my life who has helped me in my journey so far, though, has been God," said Whitmore. "Without him, I wouldn’t be able to do anything that I am currently. He gave me all of my talents and it is up to me to use them to the best of my ability. Without him, I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t have my passion for motorsports, I wouldn’t have my family, and I wouldn’t have the skills that he gave me."
One of the hardest things about breaking in to the world of motorsports isn't about getting your name and work out there for the world to see, but instead, it's a task all professional journalists must master in order to succeed; time management.
"I’m a full-time college student and I write for several motorsports and hockey websites, plus my own personal blogs," said Whitmore. "You have to be very organized and manage your time well. If you don’t, you will probably get very behind in your work and get very stressed"
Whitmore had the opportunity to experience the world of motorsports media firsthand just a few months ago when she took a trip to Dover International Raceway for the Nationwide race as a member of the media. Mingling with those journalists who she has admired and looked up to for years.
"I was standing in the same room with professionals like Lee Spencer and Bob Pockrass," Whitmore exclaimed! "Attending this race as a media member only solidified my dream of becoming a motorsports reporter and calling the motorsports world my home one day."
So what is Carrie Whitmore's dream?
"My dream is to be a NASCAR TV reporter," she said. "I would love to work with ESPN or Fox Sports one day."
Seeing the likes of Jamie Little and Krista Voda among others in front of the camera has given Whitmore role models to aspire to be like.
"I would love to live up to their reputations," she said, "but I know that will be a very difficult task."
NASCAR isn't her only aspiration, she would love to be a reporter for IndyCar and other forms of motorsports as well. Her biggest goal is just to be at the track and in the middle of the action.
"I want to see, hear, and breathe all the action before a big race," said Whitmore. "I want to interview drivers and their teams so fans will be informed and will get to enjoy the sport of racing like I have for 20+ years"
Whitmore continues to work hard on her dreams and writes multiple articles a week for the websites she contributes to. One thing is for certain, she will stop at nothing to make her dream come true and she asks for only one thing.
"I ask for motorsports fans’ approval to allow me to bring my passion for motorsports into the homes of their audience."
For most motorsports fans, their focus is solely on NASCAR, IndyCar, and other major forms of motorsports. For Matt Wiernasz, his life revolves around grassroots racing.
Modified racing is one of the oldest forms of motorsports in the United States and for a race fan like Wiernasz, he spends a lot of his time at home tracks around the country.
"I started attending races at Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, MA when I was little," Wiernasz said. "My dad was one of the track announcers at Riverside Park Speedway. That's where the track had modifieds. The northeast to me is always Modified country...In 2004, I really wanted to cover racing and I got into photography and it fell all into place."
Getting into the motorsports industry, any aspect of it, is not easy. Like most jobs, you have to start from the bottom and work your way up. Getting out there and making your name known in the media industry is the key to success.
"Getting in is tough but staying in is a lot tougher," he said, "and I am very thankful for the opportunities I have been given in this sport... getting to cover all sorts of racing from NASCAR to Indy cars, to Indoor Racing."
"I think when you have a passion for this and your dedicated and you take it very seriously, the rewards are going to come. Most of us in the sport travel a lot or cover weekly racing at some of the local tracks. You look at that and that's a lot of time away from your family and friends."
Like any motorsports fan, being able to travel to the race track any given weekend is a reward in itself. There is nothing quite like the sounds of the motors, the smell of the gas, and the atmosphere of the race.
"I look at it this way anytime you can be at a race track is a cool thing because your doing what you love and that's living the dream," Wiernasz said.
For any individual trying to work their way into the industry, support is the most important thing. For Wiernasz, his family and friends have been there every step of the way.
"A lot of people have been just very supportive and letting me do what I love and that is such a great feeling," he said, "I love hearing good and bad feedback...it wants to make you (be) a better journalist."
No matter how many races he may cover or attend, there are always those few special moments that stick out.
"My biggest one is going to Bristol Motor Speedway in March of 2012 and getting to cover the Food City 500 weekend that was an awesome feeling," he said.
"The Indoor races are amazing. The TQ Midgets are the main division and it brings some of the best drivers from all over from open wheel racing to dirt car racing. I have gotten to opportunity the cover NASCAR, Indy Car, Grand-AM, World Of Outlaws. I think some of the tracks we have in the country have such a rich history."
Some of the greatest tracks in the country are small dirt and paved tracks in our own backyards. Getting to see these tracks up close is something very few get to do.
Wiernasz has been to 30 different tracks in 10 different states, including many NASCAR, IndyCar and Grand-AM races around the country and he hopes to make it a career one day.
"It would be cool if I could do the Motorsports Journalism all the time but I know it's a tall order. You have to take what you can get in this sport and just be thankful for it."
It was at a baseball game in high school where Stephen Conley realized he wanted to be behind the microphone. Calling the game from the press box above, he realized he was in the right place, just the wrong sport.
A lifelong race fan, Conley grew up immersed in the sport but it wasn't until that first day behind the mic where he realized where he really wanted to be. In college, Conley covered every sport possible but racing was still in the back of his mind.
"I worked in college covering Kent State University football and baseball and as well as Cleveland Browns football," Conley said, "but my goal was still to be covering racing.
Conley finally got his chance in the motorsports industry when he started filling in as a track announcer and photographer at short tracks across the country. In 2009, he had the chance of a lifetime when he was asked to co-host "Late Shift" on SIRIUS XM NASCAR.
"(Alex Hayden) brought me into Co-Host Late Shift on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio in 2009 with Himself and Legendary driver Buddy Baker," Conley said, "certainly my first foot in the door."
In 2012, Conley tried his hand at writing when he joined the ranks of "Insider Racing News" and later, "Motor Racing Digest." After spending a majority of his budding motorsports career behind a microphone, Conley had to learn how to write in a competitive world.
"I've had to re-learn a lot about covering the sport and learn some new aspects, especially with the rapid-fire news on social media," he said. "My skills behind a keyboard lacked. I could talk with the best of the, but grammar at times has not been my best friend."
In learning what the cutthroat business of motorsports media is really like, Conley has had the opportunity to gather some important contacts along the way.
"Without question the first in my line of approaching a career in Motorsports media has been Alex Hayden of Motor Racing Network," Conley said. "He took my questions, brought me into Co-Host Late Shift on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio in 2009 with Himself and Legendary driver Buddy Baker, certainly my first foot in the door."
Other prominent media journalists have given him some great advice that he carries with him as well. Bob Pockrass, Dustin Long and the editor of "Inside Racing News" Ron Felix, have all be key people in Conley's journey into the motorsports industry but the key person in helping him along the way is legendary Hall of Fame announcer Barney Hall.
"I would not be here today pursuing this career if it had not been for my influence and number one Idol, Barney Hall. I was honored to have had the chance to speak with with Barney for the first time at Darlington this year prior to the Southern 500."
What has been the hardest part about breaking into the industry? Getting your name out there and recognized.
"It is not an easy field to break into and if you linger, you'll be run over," Conley said. "You really have to have your ducks in a row working in that garage. Knowing the proper contacts, PR Reps for drivers and teams, and making yourself known to everyone. There are a lot of people that make this circus run, remembering them all is nearly impossible, but you have to know them."
Some of his best memories have come from inside the world of motorsports media. From his day on air at SIRIUS XM NASCAR to his time in the media center, Conley has definitely had some great experiences with even more to come.
"Sitting in with Alex and Buddy on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and spending a segment just talking racing with Buddy Baker while Alex repaired phone lines was a big moment for me," he said, "but my first solo experience in the media center... (for) the Rolex 24 at Daytona and getting to interview the overall champions from Chip Ganassi racing was a memory not soon forgotten."
Something Conley prides himself on is his weekly feature on "Motor Racing Digest". Each week, he interviews an up-and-coming driver and gives them a chance at being in the spotlight.
"This has become an extremely enjoyable feature to write," he said. "I talk to one driver each week from around the country. Maybe it's a driver that is just starting out in racing, or one that has been doing it for 50 years. The short tracks are what built NASCAR, they are where our future drivers will come from, but most of all our future fans. T From Tennessee to Louisiana to Las Vegas and California. Every state has a race track, every track has a driver and every driver has a story to tell, I love to be one that can help them tell it"
From the small short tracks in your town to the speedways that host the series greatest drivers, once you have that dream of working in the industry, you will do anything to make that dream come true.
The NASCAR media room may be considered one of the most difficult places to work but for Conley, all it took was one experience in the media center to realize that the long journey he has gone though to get to where he is has been completely worth it. A dream of one day sitting in the press box at Daytona, Darlington or Watkins Glen would be a dream come true.
"Some say it's a pipe dream and I should give up on it, but Barney Hall is 80 years old and as long as he keeps going and i have a breath left in this body, I have a goal that will be fulfilled one day...Even if just for a day."
A family outing to the 2010 Indianapolis 500 was all it took for Isabelle Beecy to change her way of thinking and most importantly, change her future.
Since that trip to IndyCar's historic race, Beecy found herself on a path filled with motors and gas fumes. Just a little over a year after attending her first race, she too, found herself behind the wheel of a kart.
"I started racing karts at F1 Boston," Beecy said, and I stayed in their junior leagues until my 18th birthday last summer."
Today, Beecy is still trying to find her niche in the racing world.
"I can’t engineer or build anything to save my life so I can’t really be on a crew and I’m not into PR," she said, but she did find something that she excels at, writing.
Beecy has taken her new found writing talent and began writing for The Podium Finish, a race blog ran by Rob Tiongson. Thanks to The Podium Finish, she is getting much needed experience writing race recaps, breaking news, and has even had the opportunity to interview drivers.
Tiongson has, no doubt, been one of her biggest support systems and mentors through her time as a developing motorsports writer.
"He’s helped me figure out interview questions, edited my articles, and was even one of the first people to plant the idea of making a living out of writing about racing in my head," she said. "He’s quickly become a mentor and almost like a big brother for me"
There are many other key people in her life as well, including her parents and her boyfriend who have always been there with encouragement and support through her racing career and eventually, her pursuits into the world of journalism.
The individuals at F1 Boston have also been mentors for Beecy since her karting days at the track.
"They kept my head in the right place and helped me grow as a person and a driver," she said.
Beecy has had a few big moments in her young career, one of which was a conference call interview with NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Austin Dillon just a few weeks ago. One question that she asked was one that we all have been wondering. Why does he always wear a cowboy hat?
Dillon's answer? “I wear the cowboy hat ‘cause chicks dig it'.”
That question and his response have been heard around the motorsports world.
"It became a huge hit, and everyone’s been talking about it ever since," she exclaimed! "It’s felt absolutely amazing to have that happen, especially so soon in my career."
That conference call with Austin Dillon was just the start of Beecy's career. Her dream is to become a well known writer in the racing community.
"I know I have to take baby steps and work my way up if that’s ever going to be a reality," she said, "but that’s what I’m aiming for."
Check out Isabelle Beecy's work on The Podium Finish and see what she comes up with next!
Once upon a time, a young girl went on an adventure, and a big one at that. This young girl walked into the world of gas fumes, burning rubber and screaming fans and her life changed forever. With her dad by her side, a young girl discovered the world of IndyCar and never looked back.
That young girl is Christie Mack and that IndyCar race that changed her life was none other than the Indianapolis 500 in May of 2006.
What was it about the Indy 500 that changed Mack's life?
"I just fell in love with the entire atmosphere," she said. "I was absolutely hooked to IndyCar since that day" and it didn't take her long to discover the world of NASCAR after that.
"To me, the blur of colors, mixture of fumes and burnt rubber, and the cheers of thousands of fans mixed with the roaring engines, were something I never wanted to be away from," she said in her personal blog "Chasing the Checkered" (find it here).
Since that fateful day in 2006, Mack's world has been nothing but life in the fast lane. When she had the opportunity to speak with IndyCar's Martin Plowman, the advice that he gave her has carried her to great heights.
(Martin) told me that I had to be a "polite pest" and get my name out there. He explained that racing is like a family, and they don't welcome outsiders very often," she said. "You have to be known, to become known."
Mack took that advice to heart and started putting her name out there for the racing world to see. Then in June of last year, her hard work paid off. After noticing a post about an internship within NASCAR Spotter Mike Calinoff's new company 140BUZZ, Mack reached out and applied. Within a week, she got the reply she was hoping for, a offer for the internship.
Since being a part of 140BUZZ, Mack has had many more opportunities come her way, including an all-access pass to the 2013 Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway where she was able to get a behind-the-scenes look at the world of NASCAR.
Most recently, a call from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the very place where she fell in love with racing, has asked her to be a VIP member of their Social Media Garage for the upcoming SuperWeekend.
"I would get all access," she said, "as long as I promoted the weekend on my own Twitter and Facebook pages as well as a blog."
One thing is for certain, this will be an experience she will never forget.
All of this wouldn't be possible without her family's support.
"They've helped me travel to these places so I can have these experiences," she said. "They've supported me 100% since day one."
Professionally, there are a few people who have really helped her get her name noticed in the racing industry.
"Amanda Ebersole has been a mentor for me," Mack said. "She's taken me under her wing and gave me a chance when I was just a college Sophomore with no real experience. I've grown under her watch and am now where I am today."
One name that is very familiar in the NASCAR Industry is that of Mike Calinoff, spotter for the No17 team in the Sprint Cup Series. He, too, has been a mentor for Mack.
"Mike Calinoff has also been a key to everything that I've done," she said. "He believes in me and is truly a great guy for giving me a chance when I probably wouldn't have given myself a chance."
All of these once-in-a-lifetime adventures have left Mack with a dream for her future.
"My dream," she says, "is to work in racing as a marketing/public relations representative for a team, driver, or track. Really, whatever gets me by those cars week after week."
With all of the big opportunities that have come her way, Mack can't pinpoint just one that stands out the most.
"I can't count the times I have opened my email and found another opportunity that Amanda or Mike or lately, IMS, has sent me that doesn't leave me grinning from ear to ear while I read it," she says, "it has all been a big whirlwind of activities that I pray doesn't end anytime soon."
As she awaits her next big adventure at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mack is certain about one thing, her love for motorsports.
"The truth is, I am not a fan who knows everything about NASCAR or some social media guru. I am just a dreamer and a fan that is passionate about all things racing," she writes on her personal blog.
"The burning desire within me has been inside of every other member of the racing community at some point or another. Now, with this amazing opportunity I have been given (at IMS), I can let the fire loose and show fans a side of the Super Weekend that they would not be able to see otherwise."
Make sure you follow Christie Mack for an inside look at Indy's Super Weekend by checking out her blog, Chasing the Checkered. With big dreams and a bright future ahead of her, this won't be the last you will here of Christie Mack.
Born into a family who had a passion for anything with wheels and a motor, Marques Riddell was a race fan from the get-go but it wasn't until he attended a race for himself that he realized that he was destined to race cars.
In a story that starts back in1993, Riddell had the opportunity to attend a Formula One European GP at Donnington Park thanks to hospitality tickets from Hitachi power-tools and the Lotus F1 team. It was at this race that his destiny started to take hold and at just 3 years old, Riddell knew he had to experience racing for himself.
Unfortunately, Riddell's family, like many up-coming drivers, didn't have the money to feed his need for speed but whenever he got the chance to drive, he did his absolute best. At 5 years old, Riddell would spend hours logging laps at a 100m oval track in a town where his family would spend their vacations. It was there that he would continue to improve his skill until the opportunity to compete in a real race would turn from a dream to a reality.
In 2002, Riddell entered into a competition to represent his school in a six race tournament and all of his time at the 100m oval seemed to pay off when he came home with a victory in all six races. Unfortunately, it would be two whole years before Riddell would get to race competitively again but he kept practicing and improving each chance he could get.
In 2005, at the Daytona Motorsport UK Sandown Park Kart Circuit, Riddell found himself behind the wheel again. In an eleven race series, Riddell could only afford to enter six of them but still came home with a respectable third place finish and earned his first end of season trophy.
There was always one person in his life who supported his dream and could see that his hobby as a young boy was turning into a passionate obsession as a teenager; his mother. For his 16th birthday, his mother entered him into the North Devon Junior Kart Summer Championship. a six race series in which he won every race.
In 2007, his racing career was put off to the side as he focused on getting his drivers license but in 2008, he once again returned to North Devon and entered into the Senior Championship. In the 16 race event, Riddell found himself in Victory Lane 11 times, earning himself his first Senior Championship.
After returning home to London, Riddell knew he needed to feed his need for racing and began working in order to enter himself in any race possible. From 2008 to 2010, at the Daytona Sandown Park Circuit, Riddell raced often, achieving much success at the familiar track and all across the country. Riddell finished in the runner-up position in both 2009 and 2010 Daytona d60 Championship.
In a time when things looked to be moving in the right direction, everything suddenly started going downhill. In his 300th race, he qualified on the pole and was on his way to another victory when, after leading 42 of the 50 laps, he crashed into the tires. With conditions hovering around -6 degrees Celcius (21 degrees Fahrenheit), Riddell finished the race in 3rd but found himself waking up in the back of an ambulance an hour later.
Because of the accident and freezing temperatures, Riddell was placed on a three month medical ban and ended up missing the 2011 season. After a six month hiatus from racing, Riddell stepped back into a kart and returned to the place where he was most comfortable, victory lane.
Riddell knew there was one person who would enjoy his victory as much as he did, his mother.
"When I got (to her home) she sat me down and said how proud she was of me. She told me to stop holding back and chase after my dreams," he said, "because I was often too lazy and complacent, sticking around dead end series year after year, never progressing my career any further. She said if you fail at least you won't live your life wondering what would have and could have happened if I didn't go after it."
These words turned out to be the most influential words that his mother ever bestowed upon him and also her last. The next morning, she passed away after loosing her ongoing battle with cancer.
After his mother's passing, Riddell returned to a familiar place, North Devon, the home of many happy memories he had shared with his mother. After returning to the Kart Centre, he noticed that that afternoon was the start of the tournament that he had won back in 2008, the last tournament his mother had paid for him to enter. With his mother's spirit by his side, he went on to win his third Karting Championship.
After winning the Championship, Riddell took the rest of the year off to plan his future. During his time off, his dream started to shift towards the media side of the motorsports business. After studying media and advertising in college, Riddell focused on social media and promotion. He started his own YouTube Page, RgRacingTV, and has a network of followers on Twitter thanks to a campaign called #NASCARFollowBack (follow him here).
"I had been a huge fan of both NASCAR and F1 for my entire life but after meeting my new followers I realized how great the oval racing community was and discovered that we too have our own late model and baby grand series that feed the European NASCAR series," he said.
In 2012, Riddell returned to racing and once more finished as the runner-up in the Daytona InKart Championship. He also defended his North Devon Karting title on the anniversary of his mothers passing, the most important race of the reason.
In 2013, Riddell has stepped away from racing to focus on his book which depicts the struggle's that he has had to face while trying to make a living as a professional racecar driver. He hopes to help others in reaching their goals by learning from the mistakes and wrong turns he made throughout his career.
Riddell is currently testing for a full time late model ride in the UK for 2014. In the future, he hopes to move from the United Kingdom to America and continue to follow his dreams. He hopes to one day drive in a Sprint Cup Race, even if it only happens once.
Current Record (As of June 17th, 2013):
Think back to when you were 16; you were chasing boys (or girls), hanging out with friends and your biggest worry was what you were going to wear to school the next day. For Hannah Newhouse, that isn't the case, instead of focusing on what others her age are doing, she is focused on one thing: racing.
At the young age of 5, Hannah got her first taste of speed after she got behind the wheel of a go-kart and her life changed forever. Hannah stayed in go-karts until she was 13 when she made the daring leap to full-sized trucks, and then everything started taking off. Due to age-restrictions, Hannah was unable to run the full series her first year, but when she returned the following season, she took the series by storm. After winning the coveted Rookie of the Year title and finishing fourth in points in her first full season running trucks, Hannah caught the eyes of professional racing team Thompson Motorsports and the next step in her budding career took off. Thompson Motorsports signed Hannah to run in her first Latemodel season last year.
In her first start in the Whelen All-America Series at Magic Valley Speedway, Hannah made history. At just 15 years old, she stole the race by becoming the youngest ever winner in the series as well as the youngest female winner in one of the closest victories at the track (read more here). With three wins in her first ten races with Thompson Motorsports, Hannah was taking the Latemodel world by storm and drawing eyes in wherever she went. (BrettThompsonRacing.com)
At 15, Hannah also made her debut in the K&N Pro Series West Series where she finished 6th, making her the youngest female to run in the series and also the highest finishing female in the series. That year, Hannah was one of 17 young racers to attend the NASCAR Drive for Diversity combine in Virginia, all competing for a handful of coveted spots on a professional racing team.
This season, Hannah isn't slowing down. Besides a load of schoolwork and a job, Hannah is also running a full traveling season in both the Latemodel and ASA Pro-Truck Series for Thompson Motorsports. For her, her schooling is just as important as her racing career and she is right on track to graduating a full year ahead of schedule.
Not everything has come easy for Hannah. When she first started racing, she was in it for the fun and excitement but as her dream of becoming a professional driver developed, she had to learn what the real world of racing was all about.
"Being young and naive I didn't see the politics behind racing and only saw the fun in it. Now that I'm older and more aware of my surroundings I have had an eye opener to the politics surrounding racing and the tracks/drivers," said Hannah.
"I don't want to be the best female driver out there, I want to be one of the best drivers in general," Hannah said. "I don't want to be compared to just the other girls, I want to be compared to everyone and defy the stereotype and double standard of girls in Motorsports."
As a female in a male dominated sport, she garnishes attention wherever she goes, but for Hannah, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. As her records and statistics show, Hannah is just as competitive as her male counterparts.
Behind her through her entire journey have been her family and friends. They have been instrumental in her success as a driver and they are "the reason I have been able to pursue my dream," she said. Along with her family and friends, her team and sponsors from Thompson Motorsports have given her the equipment she needs to race as hard and as competitively as she knows how to do.
Last but certainly not least, Hannah knows she wouldn't be where she is without her fans. "They always stand behind me on my good nights and bad nights, sending me encouragement and good words in every situation of my racing career," she exclaimed!
Hannah dreams of one day competing in the highest levels of NASCAR: the Camping World Trucks Series, the Nationwide Series and the Sprint Cup Series. Following in the steps of the great women before her, Hannah is well on her way to achieving her dreams. At just 16 years of age, she has already accomplished so much in her young and growing career.
Hannah Newhouse is not your average 16 year old. She is a daughter, a racer, a competitor and without a doubt, the next big thing. Keep up with Hannah by following her on Twitter and checking out her website.
Keep your eye on this girl, her records and her talents are out of this world.
All it took was a glimpse of a bright orange car for four year old Stephen Taylor to find his love for NASCAR. Since that day, racing has been a part of his life and will hopefully be something he can call a career.
Not long after he first saw that bright orange car, Taylor was begging his parents to let him watch the races on TV so he could cheer on his favorite driver, Ricky Rudd.
“As someone who gets attached to something I didn't let it go easily and auto racing has been my passion ever since,” Taylor said.
He started to learn all he could about racing and soon became a fan of all things with a motor and wheels. Even after Ricky Rudd retired, Taylor started cheering for Carl Edwards as his passion for the sport grew stronger. Around the age of eight, his parents bought him a go-kart and Taylor got to experience what it was like being behind the wheel for himself.
He and his father went racing out of the back of their pick-up truck, spending a lot of time together working on the go-kart. With 17 career wins, a Championship in 1998 and two runner-ups Championship finishes, Taylor had shown that he had a knack for racing.
“I was fortunate enough to achieve success and had a blast doing it,” Taylor said!
In 2004, his personal racing career came to a halt when his family moved to Alaska, far from any form of racing other than the kind with four legs and fur. Although he was far away from auto racing, Taylor’s love for the sport continued to grow.
Keeping up with the motorsports world in Alaska was not ideal, but that didn’t stop his passion for the sport. TV, the internet and especially Twitter helped him keep up with all of the NASCAR action in Charlotte and around the country.
After high school, Taylor attended college at the University of Alaska at Anchorage and recently graduated with a BA degree in history. His passion for racing is stronger than ever and his love for history has led him to pursue a career in the historical aspect of NASCAR.
“I want my career path to be something from a historical perspective in racing or one that deals with the collectible aspect of the sport,” Taylor said.
As a collector of NASCAR trading cards, the sports history has always fascinated him. Taylor has written multiple NASCAR history pieces for many non-professional websites as well as school papers; all have which solidified his dream of being a racing historian.
His road to Charlotte hasn’t been without its ups and downs. In January 2012, he lost his mother to skin cancer and thanks to his family and friends, he worked even harder to make his dreams come true. In May of 2013, Taylor finally found himself on his way to Charlotte, North Carolina.
“It was a very hard time but in a way I think it forced my hand even more to want to achieve my dreams sooner,” Taylor said.
Since moving to Charlotte in May, Taylor has focused on making his dreams come true.
“I have applied for jobs within the NASCAR Media Group and also applied to Press Pass, the manufacturer who makes NASCAR trading cards,” Taylor said.
Although no positions have opened up yet, he is making many important connections within his desired field and is far from giving up hope. Stephen Taylor may still be chasing his dream of being a racing historian, but his journey is just beginning.
I am writing this to give those who want to make it in the world of motor sports a place to make their story heard. As someone who is also chasing their dream of working in the motorsports industry, I want to help others who are doing the same.
Are you dreaming of working in the world of Motorsports as a driver? In the media? Mechanical? Pit Crew? Anything? I want to help YOU get your story out. Send me a message by clicking here and tell me what YOUR dream is.