By Dan Guffey
Marketing Manager - Feature Writer
Speed Weekly Interview - Female on the Fast Track
The world of racing and motorsports continues to grow and progress by leaps and bounds. Over the last ten years, the fan base of motorsports has expanded and drawn the attention of both females and minorities. However, the fan base is not the only sector of motorsports that continues to expand. The number of female and minority drivers also continues to increase. One of those upcoming female drivers is Megan Reitenour.
Megan Reitenour began racing Quarter Midgets at five years old. She continued in Quarter Midgets until the age of twelve. During that time, Reitenour was able to collect three track championships and over 150 top-three feature finishes. Reitenour then spent two years in the Bandolero Series, where she won a state championship and two national events. Before ending her career in the Bandolero Series, Megan was ranked fifth in the nation.
In 2006, Megan then stepped up to the Legends Series. Over the course of the year, she finished in the top-ten in 24 of 26 races. Reitenour won the Ohio Young Lions State Championship, as well as a fourth place standing in the Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana Legends Touring Series. While competing in the KOIL Touring Series, Megan also managed to set two records along the way. Reitenour was the youngest driver to place in the top-five, and the first ever female driver to place in the top-ten of the series.
In 2008, Megan stepped up to the Super Cup Stock Car Series. Reitenour raced as a development driver for Nesbitt Race Enterprises, Inc. It did not take Megan long to adjust, as she posted three wins, nine top-fives, and ten top-tens, while also claiming Rookie of the Year honors. Megan ranked second in the nation, missing the championship by only seven points. Reitenour was the only driver in the Series to post three wins in 2008.
Reitenour's accolades in 2008 brought along some great opportunities, Megan was invited to participate in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Testing and Combine. Her performance at the event produced her selection as a 2009 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver. Reitenour was also selected as a member of Project Podium, which is a program within the Women in the Winner's Circle Foundation in coordination with former Indy driver Lyn St. James.
Reitenour is currently driving for Leicht Motorsports in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Tri-County Speedway in Hudson, NC. Megan is the driver of the #92, and has already posted two top-fives in 2009.
Reitenour continues to prove that she has what it takes to be successful in the world of motorsports. She has shown quick adaptability in a number of different cars and tracks. Look for great things out of upcoming driver Megan Reitenour, as she continues to progress through the ranks of the racing world. For more information on Megan and Reitenour Racing, visit www.MeganReitenour.com.
Q (SpeedWeekly): Your involvement in the motorsports world came at an early age. At what point did you realize that you wanted to pursue racing as a career?
A (Megan Reitenour): My involvement in motorsports did come at an early age. At five years old, I really didn't think about it as a career. I would say at first my involvement was because of the love my Dad had for the sport, but it didn't take long for it to become the love that I have for the sport. At about the age of 12, I started to have hopes of making racing my career, but it didn't become more than a dream to me until I started to receive help from organizations such as the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program and Project Podium. Then, it became more of a reality and not only the belief that my parents have always had in me, but let me know that other people believe in me as well.
Q: What are some of the biggest obstacles you have had to face/overcome while moving up the ranks within motorsports?
A: My biggest obstacles I have had to face and still have to face is funding/sponsorship. There are many things I would love to being doing such as testing, etc., but all depends on funding. Racing is a very expensive sport. My parents have funded the majority of my racing up until this season, with the NASCAR Diversity Program and a few small sponsors such as Haus Builders, Comp Cal, MPM Marketing, Nestor Insurance, Fox Motors, and some product sponsors such as Impact Racing and Vickery Speedshop that I have been fortunate enough to receive. The economy being so bad hasn't helped at all with trying to find sponsors. If it wasn't for the help that I've received this season I wouldn't be able to continue my career in racing at this point.
Q: Obviously, your gender sets you apart from most racers. Do you feel that your being female has helped or hindered you in any way during the course of your racing career?
A: I would say my gender has done both, helped and made more obstacles for me at times in my career. I hear often from people that I've got all the advantages I have in racing, because I am a minority in the sport. That really upsets me, because I think I've received the opportunities I have because I've worked hard for them. I would say at times there have been advantages, because I'm a female, such as with the Drive for Diversity Program or the Project Podium Program. I also believe at times my gender has made it more difficult for me because there are still people that believe females/minorities do not belong in racing and are not willing to give us a chance or support us. I also believe there is more pressure on a female driver to perform, because there are some people that will instantly assume if we aren't running well it is the female driver and never the car or other circumstances. I truly feel like we are all race car drivers no matter female or male and should be treated and evaluated the same way.
Q: You were selected as a member of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program. Do you feel that this initiative is helping to facilitate diversity within the ranks of NASCAR?
A: I do feel the NASCAR Diversity Program is helping to facilitate diversity within the ranks of NASCAR. I feel it is a stepping stone in getting your name out and working your way up through the various levels of NASCAR. It gives you an opportunity that you may not be given otherwise to meet car owners/teams and sponsors and in my situation it made it possible for me to compete this season.
Q: What would you describe as being the most difficult thing in transitioning from one series of racing to another?
A: There is always a transition from one series to another, but I would say the most difficult thing would be in getting used to the difference in teams and what works well for each other. From the set up of the car to the communication between the driver and team, it takes some time to figure out what works best for both.
Q: How would you describe the difference in the competition level between advancing series within racing?
A: I think the competition level gets more difficult at each level. That is one of the things I love about racing, is the challenge. The better talent you race against the more you can learn, and the better driver you can become.
Q: What are your goals for your racing career?
A: My short term goal is to race to the best of my ability, learn as much as I can, and go after a championship in the Late Model Division. My long term goal is to work my way up in the various levels of NASCAR, and ultimately make it into NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Q: What do you see as the determining factor to your success as a driver?
A: Again, I hate to keep referring to the same thing, but I believe the factor to my success depends a lot on funding/sponsorship. I also feel it is so important to have a good team that will work with you, and that you have a good support system and people around you.