You’re a mother, a grandmother, and – oh yes – a race car driver! What prompted you to choose to enter the sport?
I have loved racing since I was little, watching with my Dad. We watched now-legends in action during their prime – great ones – like Mario Andretti and Richard Petty. My husband raced at The Rockford Speedway, won a Championship in 1982, and our sons followed in his footsteps. Three years ago, at 52 years old, I announced that I wanted to race. Three months later, I had the logistics worked out and found myself in the driver’s seat. I have loved it ever since. My Grandchildren are my biggest fans, and they love watching their Grandma compete.
What do you enjoy most about the experience of competitive driving?
I love the thrill, the sounds, the smells, the adrenaline, and the competitiveness. Being a mother of 5, and a Grandmother of 15, those few laps are all mine. My time, and my vision.
Conversely, what do you enjoy the least?
Wow that’s a tough one, because I love everything about it. But the least? I’d have to say that would be being involved in a crash, and hoping that I was not at fault. I’m very competitive, but I don’t like even the possibility that I may have caused a crash.
Additionally, controlling my type two diabetes during race season is sometimes as hard as the race itself. Even so, it keeps me focused – knowing what I have to do to prepare for low/high sugar levels. Contrary to common belief, racing is very much a physical sport – just as most other sports are.
How does your family feel about your participation in the sport?
My family all support me, and many are part of my pit crew. If I’m discouraged because I feel I could have done better, they are right there to build me back up. They’re nothing less than 100% supportive. And to pull onto the track and hear these little cheers, knowing that my grandchildren are cheering me on, is the most surreal moment of the whole endeavor. I love that they love the sport, and support me.
What would you like our readership to know about you, outside of your racing life?
Family, family, family – that’s what I love! I’m also an avid reader, enjoy gardening, walking, and most definitely am a pet lover. We have five dogs, one cat, and many fish.
What’s the single craziest thing that you’ve ever done?
There are too many to count! Racing, at my age, is probably the craziest. I’m up for anything, though. I never say never.
With all of the negative press that Rockford has received of late, how do you feel about the city of Rockford?
I love Rockford. Growing up in a small town and farming community, Rockford is just the place to be. I have faith in this city and I truly believe that things will get better. Rockford has so many great things to offer, if you can be ambitious and find the good.
If there were only one thing that you could change about Rockford, to make it better place, what would that be?
Reduce crime and add more drug rehabilitation centers. Rehabs are so important nowadays and, unfortunately, I feel that Rockford is very limited in that sense. More policing to deter crime would be appreciated as well.
What is your fondest memory of Rockford?
Beattie Is and On The Waterfront. Both were so family-orientated and enjoyable. As a family we attended these both many, many times.
Did you ever have the opportunity to meet Hugh Deery, The Rockford Speedway’s ultimate figurehead?
Yes! Back when my Husband still raced, Hugh and Jody both still played an active a part at The Rockford Speedway. Hugh took a chance, and made something great. His is still missed at every event. Jody and Susan have done a wonderful job of keeping the Speedway going, and in continuing to make it a fun place.
What would you say to someone who is considering entering the world of racing?
Do it. Just do it. You only live once, so make it count. If that is your dream, then hang on and go for that ride. It can be an expensive sport, though. I am fortunate to have a wonderful, mechanically inclined husband who can make my dream come true without overextending us financially.
One final thing: NASCAR race day arrives – who do you root for?
(Laughing) Matt Kenseth! It’s kind of like football, and our home is divided. My husband cheers on Kasey Kahne, but we both have so much respect for the sport tat we’re just happy to see a checkered flag and a safe finish.
Heath D. Alberts – Co-Founder & Marketing Director
Author of: ‘Terminal Beginning‘ (2010) | ‘Guerrilla Business‘ (2012) | ‘The Battery Man‘ (2013) | ‘Last Rights‘ (2013) | “Deeper” (2014) | ‘Photographic Memory‘ (2014) | ‘Guerrilla Business 2.0‘ (2015) | ‘Not On The List‘ (2015)
Co-author of: ‘Dave’s Not Here‘ (2015)
Categories: Rockford's Own