As a woman in a man’s sport, it can be really difficult to find success – or even a guiding hand to help you along in your journey. There is a now a wonderful scholarship called the Wendi Allen Scholarship to help up-and-coming female drivers in their quest to become a future national champion.
I tend to complain about competition and sportsmanship, mostly against the men, but in a Ladies’ class, it can be even more fierce and cutthroat. They don’t call it a catfight for nothing! And so much of contributing to the racing community goes unnoticed, and is behind the scenes. No, we aren’t the fastest out there (well, some of us are!), but if we didn’t participate, the program might cease to exist. And it’s that camaraderie, that level of giving back, that really needs to be pointed out.
Upon learning about this scholarship, I immediately nominated my friend Becca, who has done nothing but show exemplary sportsmanship, gives back to every program she’s involved in, and really loves the people and the sport.
To Howard, and the selection committee of the Wendi Allen Scholarship Fund:
I write to nominate Becca as a recipient of this scholarship.
I met Becca through the Fairfield County Sports Car Club, based in Fairfield, CT. It’s a small, local club that runs on a sandy (for lack of a better term) postage stamp, where most people never leave the safety of its grassy knolls. Becca was brand new in 2012, but immediately took a leadership role within that club. She worked tirelessly to encourage interest in racing, to generate new membership, and she participated in every event in an effort to improve her driving. She traveled to all the events in her 2008 350Z, and ran it on street tires in stock class. In 2013, she expanded her horizons and participated in regional autocrosses with the New England and Northern New Jersey Regions. She also competed in her first Pro Solo, the 2013 NJ Pro. Becca was able to demonstrate composure under pressure of adjusting to first regional, and then national competition, while still trying to maintain a competitive edge.
Later, towards the fall, she expressed an interest in attending the National Championships. With generosity from a very seasoned and competitive driver (and also a good friend), Learic, and myself as a go-between, she was able to participate in C-Stock Ladies as Learic’s co-driver. Nationals can be an overwhelming experience, but Becca took it all in stride, with enthusiasm and a can-do approach, and now can’t wait to go back. Her autocross schedule for 2014 is crazier than my own, and that’s saying something! She organized a karting league for the off-season, so we don’t get rusty, and is constantly working on improving her times and skills. As the only driver in her family, she realizes that she has to work a bit harder than those of us that have a significant other to help out with the heavy lifting, and she has embraced that wholeheartedly.
In addition to having the racing “bug,” Becca has demonstrated exemplary sportsmanship. She is a positive person, and despite anything that happens on the course (cones, flat tires, dead batteries), she looks on the bright side. She always lends a helping hand wherever it’s needed, whether it be a seat in her car, a ride to the event, or even lunch. She has no delusions of grandeur, and realizes that honing autocross skill takes lots of time and effort – which she’s already shown she is willing to dedicate. I believe that with a bit more guidance and a little bit of support, Becca will be a national-caliber driver in no time. Receiving this scholarship would help her thrive as a competitor, and encourage other women to do the same.
Unfortunately, Becca was not selected as a recipient of this scholarship, much to my disappointment. While I’m probably biased, the two girls selected do not seem to contribute nor compete as much as, or compete at a level comparable to her, but maybe with some more guidance and experience, they eventually will. The importance of this fund, and of encouraging more women to participate in motorsports, is so integral to creating a more balanced and equal-opportunity sport. For me, it’s rewarding to see girls of all ages and walks of life get involved and want to compete as much as I do. It’s my hope that with more opportunities like this, and more role models like Becca, women will finally start to feel welcomed into motorsports, and who knows? With the right people, a positive attitude, and never giving up, the sky is the limit.