Sunday, December 26, 2010

Caitlin Shaw: A Rising NASCAR Star

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Caitlin Shaw. 

Caitlin Shaw was one of the six female drivers to compete in the Truck Series in the 2010 season.  Aside from her busy NASCAR schedule and school, she still manages to find time to host story time for kids at hospitals around the country. 

Tell us about yourself. How did you get started racing?   What series do you race in now?

“I’m a 21-year-old college student pursuing a degree in Business Marketing, but I also have a lot on my plate in addition to college. I work at MWR 5 days each week and take night classes as well as working towards sponsorship for my own racing career in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. I live and breathe motorsports, but I enjoy every minute of it.
I began racing when I was nine years old, in Phoenix, Ariz. travelling nationwide, in the Quarter Midgets of America, and raced those until I was 14 and moved into the mini sprint division at my local track in New Mexico. From there, I made the jump to a national series in the USAC (United States Auto Club) Ford Focus Midgets, and for two years I travelled across the country in a 24-foot motor home with my dad racing 2-3 times a week. That was a really great experience both on and off the track. It really taught me a lot about life, and of course the racecar! When I was 18 I moved up another division into the USAC National Midgets racing against people like Jerry Coons Jr., Tony Stewart, and Kasey Kahne. I love the intensity of the midgets, you have to be up on the wheel the whole race and with the short wheel base and weight to horsepower ratio, it makes for interesting races. This was also the year I was given my first NCWTS test. K&N Engineering, my sponsor at the time, set the Truck test up for me with Toyota’s Germain Racing at Pocono, and it was my first experience in a stock car. It ended up being a good test, and from there I couldn’t wait to get back into the truck. Later that year, I received another opportunity from Toyota to test in Red Horse Racing’s truck at Richmond International Raceway.
In 2009, I was able to compete in my first race with Red Horse and this year I followed up at Phoenix International Raceway running for DGM Racing. The competition in the truck series is tough, but I enjoy the challenge and I am working to compete in a partial schedule in 2011.”

What do you enjoy most about racing?

“There’s always something new and challenging whether it’s a public relations pitch, working to attain a new sponsor or setting a truck up to pass on the track – those challenges make the sport captivating to me. I’m lucky to be involved in all facets of the industry. Having knowledge of multiple positions in the sport has allowed me to achieve more of my personal goals in NASCAR. I've always been a competitive person, and this is a sport that really brings that out in me.”

What is the hardest part of racing for you?
“Sponsorship. It’s the most necessary part of NASCAR, but also the hardest to attain.  I do all of my own sponsorship, and it gets tough hearing “no”, or not even having anyone return your calls and emails, but when you do get through to a sponsor and close the deal it makes me appreciate being out on the track that much more.”

Would you like race in Cup/Truck/Nationwide?

“Having competed twice in the Truck Series, I can see that it’s going to be a lot of hard work before I can work my way into the Nationwide or Cup Series, but I am determined to continue learning, pushing forward and tearing down one wall at a time until I can get there. It’s definitely a goal of mine, but my short-term goal is to run a full Truck season first.”

What do you like to do during the off season?

“This off-season has been filled with a lot of work to prepare for 2011. I’ve been approaching a lot of sponsors, and working at MWR to get Brett Moffitt’s program set up heading into the new year. However, I am getting ready to head home to visit my family in New Mexico. Family is very important to me, and while I’m home I’m looking forward to little things like taking my younger cousins ice skating, and maybe going skiing with my parents.”

Do you have any plans/goals for 2011 season? If so, what are they?

“My plan right now is to compete in a partial NCWTS schedule beginning with Phoenix in February. I’m looking to finish each race and gain enough experience to receive approval to run at the larger racetracks like Atlanta, and Homestead.”

Favorite tracks on the circuit?

“I loved testing at Richmond International Raceway in 2008, and I would love to get an opportunity to run there in the future, but I really enjoyed racing at Phoenix in November, and I think I would have to say that is one of my favorites.”

Best racing memory?

“My best racing memory is when I was 10-years-old racing quarter midgets at the Valley of the Suns track in Phoenix. I was competing in the Desert Springs Nationals and had qualified into the race, which was an accomplishment in itself. I came from the back and was making a lot of competitive passes until I got to the front of the field. I crossed the checkered flag to win my very first race in motorsports and I saw my dad standing behind the wall smiling. I loved that moment.”

How does it feel to be one of the few females racing? Do you feel like there’s more pressure on you to do well?

“Females in motorsports are becoming much more visible.  I don’t really feel a lot of extra pressure because of it. I think I feel more pressure to do well from the fact that I haven’t had the opportunity to compete in a lot of races due to sponsorship. I feel like every time I get out on the track I need to prove that I belong there, because there’s usually not a chance to climb back into the truck again next week. I think anyone can get into motorsports and be successful if they have the drive and determination to do so. I don’t see the aspect of being a female a barrier to becoming successful in the sport. There are going to be a lot of sacrifices and hard work no matter what gender you are.”

I just wanted to say thank you to Caitlin for taking the time out to answer these questions.  Do you want to learn more about Caitlin?

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