Live to Travel the World

I like to travel quite a bit. For me there is nothing like the freedom which travelling is able to provide to a person; to see the wider world that’s beyond your own nation’s boundaries is the ultimate expression of human freedom. It’s a basic fundamental human right to be able to travel. Indeed, it’s something that humankind has done throughout the entirety of its own meager youthful existence on the planet. We’ve migrated to every continent on the planet so what’s to stop me from working at a shop printing in Brisbane even if I’m from the United States – Kentucky, of all places. When I look back on my Facebook to see how few of my friends from high school have chosen to travel themselves I’m always blown away. Some of them haven’t even left the tiny town that the majority of us grew up in and fewer still have actually left the state itself. Read more… »

NASCAR Statement on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law

nascar-racing-logo-image-1024x372

NASCAR issued a statement about the controversial new Religious Freedom Law in Indiana – home of the Brickyard 400 at IMS.

“NASCAR is disappointed by the recent legislation passed in Indiana. We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race.”

NASCAR has not been silent on similar issues in the past.  In 2014, before a race in Phoenix, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a similar law that passed in Arizona. At that time NASCAR said, ““We are pleased with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s veto of SB1062. NASCAR actively strives to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the motorsports industry. NASCAR has a zero tolerance policy against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, race, gender, national origin, age, color, disability, religion, or other factors which deny the essential humanity of all people.”

In 2013 when driver Nelson Piquet Jr posted a homophobic slur on social media, the sanctioning body fined the driver and released a statement saying , “Nelson Piquet Jr. recently communicated an offensive and derogatory term that cannot be tolerated in our sport. NASCAR’s Code of Conduct explicitly spells out in the 2013 rule book our position regarding the use of disparaging terms. We expect our entire industry to abide by this Code.”

 

Grand Prix of Houston, Race 2 Sunday

cDSC_5736-680x1024

Takuma Sato looked for better results than Day 1

cDSC_5737-671x1024

Mike Conway had his hand bandaged after his shunt into the tires Saturday

cDSC_5741-669x1024

Jack Hawksworth prepares for Sunday qualifying

cDSC_5743-649x1024

cDSC_5749-1024x741

Tires were a major story all weekend.

cDSC_5744-602x1024 cDSC_5747-581x1024 cDSC_5748-612x1024

cDSC_5750-588x1024 cDSC_5756-671x1024

cDSC_5759-658x1024

cDSC_5760-611x1024

cDSC_5763-1024x743

cDSC_5787-1024x663

Castroneves jumped to the lead early Sunday

cDSC_5788-1024x639 cDSC_5790-1024x640 cDSC_5791-1024x710 cDSC_5794-1024x779 cDSC_5813-1024x708 cDSC_5816-1024x693 cDSC_5831-1024x670 cDSC_5832-1024x640 cDSC_5834-1024x659 cDSC_5854-1024x670 cDSC_5857-1024x625 cDSC_5864-1024x659 cDSC_5865-1024x611 cDSC_5869-1024x739 cDSC_5878-1024x645 cDSC_5887-1024x566 cDSC_5890-1024x707 cDSC_5892-1024x686 cDSC_5894-1024x705 cDSC_5896-1024x582 cDSC_5899-1024x669 cDSC_5903-1024x669 cDSC_5908-1024x685 cDSC_5910-1024x636

 

Tom Hessert Wins First Super Speedway Race at Talladega

Grant Enfinger, driver of the Casite-Motor Honey-Advanced Auto Parts #90 Ford, and winner of the first 3 races of the season in the ARCA racing series started from the pole at Talladega Superspeedway in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 and was looking for win number 4 of the 2014 season. Once the green flag flew, the front of the field ran single file up front for the first half of the race with Mason Mitchell, Justin Boston, Mark Thompson, and John Wes Townley rounding out the top 5 behind Enfinger.

Green flag pit stops began on lap 36 of the 76 lap event. Multiple drivers were penalized for speeding on pit road including leader Enfinger who had dominated the first half of the race. Clay Campbell, Mark Thompson, and Frank Kimmel were among the 16 pit road speeding violations. Justin Boston in the #25 Zloop Chevrolet took over the lead after pit stops until lap 54 when he was passed on the track by the Zaxby’s #15 of John Wes Townley.

The first and only caution of the race came out on lap 56 when Justin Allison, grandson of Donnie Allison, in the #88 HAVACOSales.com Ford, blew a right front tire and slammed into the side of Clay Campbell driving the #52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet for Ken Schrader Racing, causing Clay to spin out. The caution put many of the the penalized race cars back into contention for the win.

The race went back to green at lap 64 with John Wes Townley in first followed by Boston, Mitchell, and Tom Hessert. Bobby Gerhart, making his 300th start in the series took the lead with 4 laps to go and was quickly over taken by John Wes Townley. With two laps to go Tom Hessert, driving the #77 Cunningham Motorsports Caregard-AxiomWarranty.com Dodge took the lead for the first time of the day after passing Townley on the high side and lead the final two laps to win his first ever super speedway win and the 4th of his career. Hessert was followed by John Wes Townley in 2nd, teammate Austin Wayne Self, driving the #22, in 3rd, Mason Mitchell in 4th and Spencer Gallagher in the #23 rounding out the top 5. The rest of the top 10 were Derrick Lancaster in 6th, Bobby Gerhart 7th, Frank Kimmel 8th, Grant Enfinger 9th, and Buster Graham in 10th.

Leilani Munter, driving the #55 Blackfish Toyota for Venturini Motorsports ran in the top 10 most of the day and ended up finishing the race in the 14th position.

IndyCar: Oversexed or On Point?

Last week, new IndyCar sponsor United Fiber & Data announced the UFD Grid Girls.  These 6 women will serve as the spokesmodels for James Hinchcliffe’s #27 UFD IndyCar for the 2014 season.  Although the exact details of their involvement for UFD and at each race haven’t been detailed, it’s fairly safe to assume their duties.  Having attractive women in tight clothing serving as models for a product at a race track is not a new concept.photo-1-300x300

My initial reaction is it is great to see a new sponsor getting involved with the series.  For me, sponsorship should be more than logos on a car.  Being a sponsor should mean having a presence at the track.  It means being visible to fans.  What’s more visible than attractive women?  Not much.  Of course I don’t care for their bits a pieces as I’m more of a nuts and bolts type of guy myself, but I recognize the instant benefit of these women.

Facing facts here, racing is still very male dominated in fandom.  Men care more about fast cars than women.  It’s one of those unexplainable facts like, why aren’t there more female engineers or more male nurses?  For some reason, guys just tend to like racing more than women.  Well, if you are catering to the audience at hand, beautiful women are the way to go.  There’s a reason there are a lot of ladies in bikinis straddling low-riders on the cover of hot rod magazines.  The two things just go together, right or wrong.  Plus, as I’ve stated before in various posts, humans like looking at pretty things.  Period.  Pretty flowers.  Pretty cars.  Pretty houses.  Pretty beaches.  You name it.  This includes pretty women.

However, there are some that expressed displeasure with the move.  Some people think it’s sexiest.  Others think it sends the wrong image to girls.  There are a few that just think it’s tacky.  I get it.  I understand it.  All of those points are valid in some facet.  But, I don’t think 6 smart, professional, beautiful women should be panned for working what they have.  Heck, if I had a killer rack and rocking body you can bet your sweet rear-end I’d be the ringleader of the crew.  Pass the stilettos and the checkered flag because I would be strutting my stuff.  I also think there is a belief that being attractive somehow makes your IQ drop, that in some way if you are attractive that you must be an idiot.  Brains and beauty can be had.   The valedictorian of my high school class was a drop dead gorgeous, tall blonde with a gigawatt smile.  I don’t discount these 6 women because they are attractive just like I didn’t discount her.  I also know that there are worse signals that can be sent to young girls than them seeing an attractive female in tight clothes working.  Hello, look at Miley Cyrus twerking on stuffed animals with her tongue hanging out while wearing a weed emblazoned one-piece (that said, she’s been brilliant at marketing herself).  You can’t shield your kid from that media frenzy.

photo-2-1-300x300Lots of people, including myself at times, have dinged Danica Patrick for using her body over her perceived talent at times.  IndyCar fans complained that she stole the spotlight just because she could pose half-naked on the hood of a car, while she was often times uncompetitive on the track.  She was vilified for being popular for the supposed wrong reason.  However, it’s a fact that IndyCar television ratings have been down since Danica left IndyCar despite new cars, engine competition, and a vastly improved on-track product.  The ratings dip can’t be fully pegged on Danica, but you can’t ignore the fact Danica was ridiculously popular regardless of reasoning behind the fandom.  Did she draw fans to IndyCar because she was attractive?  You betcha.

I know deep down we all want people to like IndyCar because the racing is great.  We don’t want it to be a gimmick.  Many people love IndyCar because it’s a fairly pure form of racing compared to the more WWE styling of NASCAR the last decade or so.  We hate to admit it, but IndyCar is withering on the vine.  We can all say that the racing is amazing, but that’s only a small portion of the equation for success.  Right now, IndyCar is the awkward, overweight person that’s a bit of a sloppy mess you’re trying to help get a date and all you can say is, “But they have an amazing personality!”  Furthermore, IndyCar has to be cool.  You don’t want someone to show up at their first IndyCar race and it be filled with a bunch of grumpy 70 year olds complaining about the lack of horsepower.  You want the event to seem cool, vibrant, fun, sexy, youthful…you need to appeal to the crowd you want to attract…or in IndyCar’s case, the crowd you HAVE to attract…for survival.

My point is, IndyCar has a new sponsor.  YAY!  That new sponsor is spending money on activation.  YAY!  They are using some damn fine young women to capture some attention and promote the sport, their driver, and their product.  YAY!  IndyCar desperately needs more UFD Girls.  Heck, get all the girls together, the Miss Grand Prix’s, the Fuzzy’s Vodka girls and make a calendar.  Promote the heck out of it.  Make IndyCar sexy.  Make IndyCar cool.  Don’t look down on these young ladies and dig around for a negative.  It’s 2014.  I think we should all be comfortable enough in our own skin to either look past something we don’t like that much, or embrace the positives it could help bring to the sport.

That said, where can I audition to be a UFD Girl?  I have killer legs.

 

“In the Red”, by Jade Gurss, A Must Read for any NASCAR Fan

A book review by Adam Lovelace, stay tuned to Queers4Gears.com for an interview with Jade Gurss.

Jade Gurss is the owner of fingerprint, inc, a sports publicity company. Jade provided publicity and media relations for Anheuser-Busch and their sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt Jr’s number 8 Budweiser NASCAR team from 1999 through the 2007 season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and is the author of “In the Red”. “In the Red” follows Dale Earnhardt Jr. throughout the 2001 Daytona 500, a race in which his father would lose his life on the last turn of the last lap of the race, and the rest of the 2001 season.

“In the Red” begins with Jade Gurss telling the reader about Dale Jr.’s appearance at the 2001 Winston Cup Preview (Winston being the title sponsor of the series at that time) in which Jr. tells of a dream he had about winning the Daytona 500. Dale Jr. is asked about where his father is in the dream and the answer gave me goosebumps then and gives me goosebumps to this day every time I hear the story.

JadeGurssThe 2001 season saw Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. team up for the the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona just weeks before the Daytona 500. Father and son finished 2nd in their class and 4th overall. Jade takes us through the Rolex and gives the reader insight into the relationship between Earnhardt and Dale Jr. in a way that most fans never get to see from the usually private Earnhardt family. “In the Red” takes you behind the scenes of the Earnhardt family and the tragedy they went through in 2001.

From the 2001 preview, to the Rolex, to the Daytona 500, to the dark weeks that followed, “In the Red” will take you on a week to week, up and down, roller coaster ride of emotions through the entire 2001 season. Whether you are an Earnhardt fan or not, whether you are even a race fan or not, “In the Red” is a very compelling read and a must for any racing fan.

Jade Gurss is also author of “Driver #8” which chronicled Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s rookie season, as well as co-author of “DW: A Lifetime Going Around in Circles”

Follow Jade Gurss:
@JadeGurss, @InTheRed2001 on Twitter
“In the Red” on Facebook
fingerprint, inc

Follow Adam Lovelace:
@aclovelace on Twitter

48 Team Penalized for Infractions at Daytona

The 48 team of Jimmie Johnson heads to Phoenix for race number two of the season with a total of -23 points after NASCAR penalized the team by docking them 25 points. After starting the season with a 42nd place finish in Daytona and securing two whole points, that’s not a good start to championship number six.

Crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec have been suspended from the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and placed on probation until May 9th. Knaus was also fined $100,000.

NASCAR says that the 48 car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the rule book or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the event); and 20-2.1E (if in the judgment of NASCAR officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR that has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance will not be permitted – unapproved car body modifications).

As the Firestone Turns: Meet Monica Hilton

Meet Monica Hilton:  Formerly of HVM Racing, and the mastermind behind the loveable Pork Chop, Monica is now in charge of PR for Bryan Herta Autosport as they embark on their first full season of IndyCar competition with Alex Tagliani in the Barracuda Networks #98.  She is also the founder and owner of 242MPH (Marketing & PR by Hilton).

Q:  First off, how is life a Bryan Herta Autosport?

MH:  Ohhhh man, life is GOOD. And busy, which I love. Honestly, I can’t believe how lucky I am to be working with this team, now officially called “Team Barracuda – BHA.” There’s a consistent air of excitement and you can genuinely see how proud everyone is to be part of a cohesive, fun and dedicated group. On top of that, you have Bryan Herta and Steve Newey, who are such great guys. I’m so impressed by the integrity and hearing a team owner take the time to say, “Thank you. You’re doing a great job” on a regular basis to the whole team. It’s… magical.

Monica-Hilton-chair-648x1024

Q:  What led you to become involved in the IndyCar series?

I attended my first Indy 500 in 2005 and I honestly only went to check it off my proverbial bucket list. I got the invite from my dad, who grew up in Indiana and has attended every Indy 500 since he was 18 years old. At the time, I was living in Wisconsin and had held various marketing/PR/advertising positions, but then I heard those magical words: “Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!” From that moment, I knew that this was the direction I wanted for my life. I can’t really explain it. I’ve really enjoyed a variety of sports in my life, but there’s a certain passion for IndyCar that can’t be matched. So I packed up and moved to Indy. The journey, once I got here, is a whole different story. Better told over a cocktail, I’d say.

Q:  You were previously at HVM Racing and the woman behind the viral celebrity Dallara, Porkchop (and Janet prior to her untimely demise at Indy).  How did the idea develop to give the cars a personality and lives of their own?

MH:  That is a darn good question. And one which I am no longer legally able to discuss. Seriously. But let’s just say that I truly appreciate all the support last year and hope everyone had some fun. Honestly, I kind of miss that car.

Q:  You are actively involved in Racing for Cancer and the IndyCar Calendar.  Tell us a little about that and how everyone can get involved and stay up-to-date on both?

MH:  I’m so proud to be involved with both of these great causes. I’ve been working with David (producer of the IndyCar calendar) for several years now  – he’s a great business man with a passion for IndyCar who decided to do something good for racing-related charities. So he created this AMAZING calendar (designed by IZOD) and all of the proceeds benefit Racing For Cancer, Racing For Kids and Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. Fans can purchase them online at www.UMPonline.com/calendar. There’s also a twitter account, @INDYCARcalendar, and facebook page: www.facebook.com/INDYCARcalendar.

Racing For Cancer is a fairly new organization (founded in 2010), but they’re here with a mighty plan: to fight cancer. CEO Tom Vossman is extremely dedicated and has a focus this year on fighting pediatric cancer. We’re working on a great event that will take place in Indy during the month of May. Stay tuned for details and check out www.RacingForCancer.org in the meantime. You can also follow @RacingForCancerand “like” www.facebook.com/RacingForCancer.

Q:  You also are quite the entrepreneur as founder and owner of 242MPH (Marketing & PR by Hilton).  Tell us about that endeavor.

Monica-Hilton-FB-683x1024MH:  I love it when a plan comes together. (*soap opera laugh*) I’m actually amazed with how well everything worked out with the business. I knew I loved doing race-team PR, but also wanted the chance to make a difference with a charitable organization. What started with a “think outside the box” moment lead to something incredible and I’m so thankful for all three of the clients who have given me an opportunity to show them what I can do.

Q:  Obviously, most of your time is spent at or around the racetrack or shop.  What are some activities that you enjoy in your free time?

MH:  I’d say my free time, although scarce, is a good mix of relaxing and socializing. An ideal night would be a great dinner out with friends (and wine!) followed by a hockey game (go Canucks!) I’m also into fitness and just completed week three of P90X. Insanity is next. As Tony Horton would say, “I hate it. But I love it.” I’m also a HUGE animal lover – dogs especially – so I’m hoping to volunteer this year with the Humane Society.

Q:  What would you say to a race fan, or someone with just a slight curiosity in motorsports, that has never been to an IndyCar event?

MH:  Two pieces of advice:

  • Go. To. The. Race. The best way to experience an IndyCar race is in person. There’s absolutely nothing like hearing (and feeling) the roar of the engines and seeing how fast those cars really go. Once you go, you’ll be hooked. And once you’re hooked, please also watch on TV because we need the ratings.
  • Go with a die-hard fan. I’ve always said that racing isn’t fun if you’re just watching cars go around in circles. Same with any sport – you have to have someone to root for. If you go with someone who knows the storylines and can answer your questions, it’s a much more exciting experience. Or come find me in the paddock. I’ll help you out.

Ok, now for the lightening round:

Hamburger or Hotdog? I want to say hamburger, but it feels like the wrong demographic for that.

Thoughts on glitter? LOVE.

High heels or flats? Heels. Because heels make me smile. And a smile is the best thing you can wear.

Ugliest car ever made… It’s a toss-up between my first car (brown Delta 88) and a Smart car. Or what’s that Scion thing that looks like a box?

Pajama pants should only be worn in public when… Your house burned down & you happened to be wearing them when it happened.

Britney Spears or Madonna? Gotta go with Britney. You’re welcome, Ross.

Biggest pet peeve? Negativity. It is REALLY hard to hang around “glass half empty” kind of people.

What’s one song you sing the loudest to when you are in your car alone? ONE?! I rock a great mix of everything from Lady Gaga to Air Supply. And I can’t even sing.

Q:  Finally, is there anything you’d like to tell our readers or discuss that you never get a chance to mention or are asked about?

Too much, too soon

simoncelli_motogp-300x168Marco Simoncelli, 24, died Sunday after crashing and being hit by two other riders at the Malaysian MotoGP motorcycle race, another racing death that occurred too soon after last weeks Indy Car race. The last couple of weeks in racing have brought back too many bad memories. The death of Dan Wheldon brought back me back to Dale Earnhardt’s death in 2001, which was the culmination of too many other deaths in a short period of time in the motor sports world. At the time, I was a crew member in the ARCA racing series and had just been through the deaths of Scott Baker, Blaise Alexander, and Chad Coleman in that series, as well as John Nemechek, Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin Jr., and Tony Roper (who’s father, Dean was also killed less than a year later) from the NASCAR ranks, and Greg Moore from CART. The death of Earnhardt was the breaking point for me at the time. It was too many, too quick, and I couldn’t stand the thought of even going to a race track. It took awhile, but I eventually went back to races, but it was five or six years before I made it back to another Cup race.

If I heard one more person tell me they only liked racing for the wrecks, I thought I was going to vomit. Not only was it dangerous, it was also a lot of work for teams and crew members, most of which were volunteers in the ARCA racing series. I too am guilty of watching a race and in the heat of battle screaming at the TV for a driver to hit something, but I quickly change my mind and just wish for their engine to blow up. I do not, and have never watched a race for the crashes, at least not big crashes, some bumping and banging always makes for excitement, but when a bad crash occurs I immediately cringe and hope for the safety of all involved.

Racing is dangerous, no matter the series, no matter the type of vehicle. Drivers know this, and drivers know that the possibility exists of… well, they know. Drivers are not forced to do what they do; they do it because they love it. Other sports are dangerous as well, and bad things happen and will continue to happen. There is no reason to place blame on a series, a track, or a driver. Thankfully, a lot has been done to make drivers, crewmembers, and fans safer, and a lot will continue to be done to make them all safer. This is a constantly evolving sport, and the safety efforts made in the last 10 years have, undoubtedly saved numerous lives.

Next time someone tells you they love racing for the wrecks, speak up, let them know these are real people, real lives.

Interview: Dana Wilson – Wife of Shane Wilson and NASCAR Twitter Celebrity

Recently, Dana Wilson took a little time to answer some questions for Queers4Gears.  Wife of Shane Wilson (crew chief for the RCR 33), her friendliness, wit, and charm have made her one of the most popular NASCAR personalities on Twitter.  The most fan-friendly of the NASCAR spouses, you can find her on Twitter at@MrsCrewChief.  Many thanks to Dana for her time and her humor!

DanaDashy-Candid-1024x682

Credit: Dana Wilson

Carla Page:   Thanks so much for taking a little time to talk with Q4G, Dana. Obvious question first. Tell us a little bit about how you and Shane met. Was it love at first sight?

Dana Wilson:  Thank you for asking me!
I was the Public Relations Coordinator at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and I had to interview Shane for the cover story of the program for the (then) NASCAR Winston West Series race. He was only my second interview- the first was Brendan Gaughan- Shane’s driver at the time. I had no clue what I was doing, made a total fool of myself (at least it felt that way). Then to top it all off, I had been told the wrong last name for Shane, and throughout the story I referred to him as Shane Hall. He never corrected me. It became particularly funny later after we’d been dating for several months, when they called him Shane Hall in a Dallas Star article written after they won their 4th race in a row at Texas Motor Speedway in the Truck Series. Why is it funny? My maiden name is Hall. The guys picked on Shane forever.

I wouldn’t call it love at first sight, but there is something about Shane. You can’t help but like him. It took us both awhile before we would even admit we were dating. I remember finally asking him, “What exactly are we? Dating? Boyfriend and girlfriend? What?” He paused and then said, “We’re together, but I don’t want you to move in with me.” Haha, I still laugh about that. I of course said, “I don’t want to live with you!” Six months later I moved in. About a year later, he proposed.

CP:   Were you a fan of racing before you and Shane became a couple?

DW:  I’ve always loved anything that goes fast- cars, boats, motorcycles, horses, planes, anything… but I wasn’t a NASCAR fan specifically. In fact, I used to make fun of people that “drive in circles” for a living. Even now when people ask me if I’m a NASCAR fan, I tell them, “I’m a Shane fan.”

CP:   What is it like for you to now be a NASCAR personality with your own fans?

DW:  I have to admit, I laughed at first when I read that question. I hope that doesn’t come across the wrong way, but I can’t help but think, “You’re kidding, right? Me?” Sort of how when you asked me for the interview, I asked, “Why would you want to talk to me?” I just don’t think of myself that way. I’m a person that’s never met a stranger. I love people. I love meeting new people, hearing their stories. I’m assuming the fans you’re referring to are on twitter, so my answer is that I don’t think of them as my fans. They’re just my buddies on twitter, and I enjoy interacting with them very much. I will say this though- the outpouring after New Hampshire last year was amazing. It really did help to know people care. I feel like the fans give that to each other on Twitter as well, not just to the people in the industry. It’s a beautiful thing.

CP:   How hard is it to stay out of the NASCAR drama that inevitably pops up on Twitter? How difficult is it to not react when people say unpleasant things about Shane’s choices as a crew chief?

DW:  Sometimes I really have to bite my tongue, and that can be difficult since I am pretty vocal and honest. First and foremost though, I would never want to say anything that could inadvertently hurt Shane somehow. (Or our wallet for that matter, have you seen some of those fines from people spouting off?!) I also care what people think of me, maybe more than I should. But, I try to remember that I’m there for fun, for camaraderie… so I try very hard to just not engage.

Earlier this summer, people started saying ugly things about Shane, which eventually led me to take a break from Twitter for about a month. I don’t think I will ever get used to people thinking it’s acceptable to be downright vicious, simply because you’re not looking the person in the face. It’s very, very hurtful. And honestly, what people have said to us is nothing compared to what some of our racing friends have to tolerate. However, I understand that fans are very passionate about their drivers and passion is what the sport is about. When all else fails, I focus on the fact that the hateful ones are equally as uninformed as they are mean, they really have no clue. I also have some outstanding “followers” that have intervened on my behalf, giving me both reprieve and a hearty chuckle.
CP:   You’ve talked a little bit on Twitter about enjoying your alone time. What is your favorite thing to do by yourself?

DW:  Quality alone time, I have a lot of it! Especially with all these rain delays lately. Shane usually leaves on Thursdays, and I have a bit of a ritual for that night. Whatever book I’m reading at the time takes me out on a date to my favorite Italian restaurant. I get a corner booth, read my book, sip some red wine, eat my penne with broccoli. As Shane would say, it’s “civilized.” I also love trail riding the horses, or just loving on them, brushing them. I can’t remember a day in my life when I didn’t love them. Oh, and I Twitter. A lot.

CP:   You’ve also talked about barrel racing. How did you get involved in barrel racing? What is your favorite thing about the sport?

DW:  I’ve always loved horses and the western lifestyle; I wanted to be Annie Oakley when I was a kid. In high school, I got to know a woman named Marjie, who lived not far down the road from my parent’s house. I worked for her in exchange for riding lessons, and we became friends. It didn’t take long for us to realize I wouldn’t be showing horses in walk/trot classes (aka SLOW). I began helping her exercise her barrel horses, and going to barrel races to help her (she raced multiple horses and put shows on). I never raced back then though. I fell in love with how much spirit the barrel horses have, how much they want to do their jobs. All through college, and then my four years in Las Vegas, I did anything I could just to be able to ride. At the end of 2003, Shane got his first cup crew chief job (at Penske) and we were moving from Las Vegas to North Carolina. I said to him, “Here’s the deal. If you get to have your dream, so do I.” He was all for it. It took about a year of looking, but 10 years after I met her, Marjie helped me find my first horse, Cody. Five years later, I got my grey horse Dashy, who I eventually won my first race on. On July 4th, I bought a year old colt I named Rio. He’s the first horse I’ll try to train myself, break to ride, the whole she-bang. That story should be interesting for Twitter followers, haha! But what do I love MOST about barrel racing? Even more than the adrenaline\speed, I love the relationship with the horse. I’ve come out the alleyway after a run with tears of happiness streaming down my face, and not because we won. Because of what we accomplished together, because the horse chose to give me all they had and we did it together. Aside from Shane, my horses make me the best version of myself.

CP:   Are there any other sports you’re involved in, or would like to get involved in?

DW:  As far as what I actually participate in… I’ve competed in triathlons. I enjoy working out and staying fit. I love to shoot, my favorite is sporting clays. I compete on the Remington Ladies team, but our main goal is to mentor and get more women involved in shooting. I also love being on the water. I can wakeboard, but I like slalom skiing better. (Higher speed, ya know.) I grew up skiing and snowboarding, but haven’t gone in a long time.  [Sidenote from DW: Also, I can’t believe I forgot, probably because I don’t practice regularly, but I have a blackbelt in Taekwondo.]

CP:   If there was one thing you could change about yourself, what would it be? What about Shane?

DW:  I wish I didn’t worry so much. I swear I could make a career of it. As for Shane? Hm. I wish he would talk more! It’s like pulling teeth, getting him to talk. And seeing as how I have so much quality alone time, it would be terrific if he could chat it up a bit! But then….I’d have to stop talking, so maybe that wouldn’t work after all.

CP:   When Shane is home, what do you do to unwind and relax?

DW:  We always try to have dinner together, and TVs and phones aren’t allowed. We sit down at the table, and I try to get him to talk, haha. Seriously though, the dinner table is where some of our best quiet time together happens. We also take the dogs up to feed the horses in the evening, let them run, have a couple cold ones, dream big.

CP:   Did you attend college? What did you study?

DW:  Michigan State University. BS in Hospitality Business (Hotel, Restaurant and Casino Management), minors in Spanish and German.

CP:   Now for a slightly more fun question. Your love of animals is well known. So, if you could be any animal, what animal would you be?

DW:  Being any one of our animals would suffice, haha. They have the life. Otherwise, a lioness.

CP:   What do you consider your favorite kind of music? Your guilty pleasure?

DW:  The music depends on the mood. I listen to almost everything except the really angry rap. I like Classic Rock, Country, bubble gum pop (did I really just say that?), alternative. Love Mumford & Sons. I also have a lot of music in other languages.  [Sidenote from DW via Twitter:  I studied piano for 12 years, so I also enjoy classical or anything acoustic.]

Guilty pleasure… definitely my “antioxidants”! I love Hershey’s dark chocolate chips (the big bag from the baking aisle) and red wine.

CP:   What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?

DW:  I wish Shane wouldn’t make so much noise and wake me up this early. If Shane isn’t there… I wish Shane were here to feed the dogs & cats so they would be quiet and let me sleep. (I enjoy sleeping immensely.)

CP:   When you look ahead to the future, where do you see yourself in 10 years?

DW: Sitting with Shane on the back porch of the house we will build eventually, overlooking the 18 acres we bought, horses grazing in the fields. My dream come true.