Female racer’s dream unfolds

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:18 AM ET

The dream that has guided most of the young life of 20-year-old Alison MacLeod looks a lot closer to reality after she disclosed Tuesday that she has signed a two-year agreement with Venturini Motorsports to race in the ARCA series.

That is the same series where Danica Patrick caught the attention of the sports world at Daytona International Speedway in February by finishing sixth in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200.

Venturini isn’t just another run-of-the-mill race team either. This is a team that has produced NASCAR Sprint Cup race winner Joey Logano and NASCAR Nationwide Series winner Justin Allgaier in the past two seasons.

And MacLeod, a senior at the University of Guelph, was featured in a Toronto Sun (Canoe) article earlier this season as one of three young female racers to keep an eye on in 2010.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, MacLeod said that she will finish her spring semester this month and move to the Charlotte N.C., area where Venturini’s race shop is located.

“It’s a pretty exciting deal,” she said. “The sponsorship part of it has yet to be worked out but we have a letter of intent for this season and 2011.”

It all came about because of a little girl power.

MacLeod had gone to Charlotte to look over several stock-car racing opportunities when she was invited to the Venturini group’s headquarters to watch her friend Alli Owens, who is already a part of the team’s driver development program, do some testing in North Carolina and at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

“I was just hanging around the shop and Bill (Venturini) asked to see some of my racing stats,” she said. “We started talking about my future and the next thing I knew we were talking contract.”

MacLeod accompanied the team to Talladega and was set to test at the 2.5-mile high banked oval. ARCA officials, however, said that she must first complete their short-track testing program before setting sights on the big track.

“That is what we will do next as soon as I get down there early in May,” she said. “The plan is to get me in a late model on one of the short tracks, like Caraway Speedway, to get the experience I need.”

MacLeod competed last season in the USAC Regional Midget Car Series that races in the U.S. Midwest, where she picked up a pair of victories in a Bob East prepared Ford and finished second in the championship points battle.

With her new deal at Venturini she hopes to get into six or seven ARCA races this season.

“It could be more or less,” she said. “But we want to get our short track program worked out as well..”

One of the attractions MacLeod pitched to Venturini was having a pair of female racers to promote.

“We want to put together a American/Canadian girl team with myself and Alli,” MacLeod said. “We have already started to get some promotion concepts together.”

MacLeod had originally thought she might enter the NASCAR Canadian Tires Series this season, but when the chance to go to North Carolina came up she said she jumped at it.

“This is such a great opportunity,” she said. “I want to do whatever it takes into making sure this works out.”

Right after hearing the news, MacLeod, in fact, posted this on her Facebook page: Dream as if you’ll live forever ... live as if you’ll die tomorrow.

Sounds like a girl with a purpose.

IndyCars stalled

It may be at least 2013 before the IndyCar series settles on a new car to replace their aging Dallaras.

Newly minted IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said Tuesday that the continued weakness of the American economy makes it difficult to ask race teams to buy all new cars.

“I want to know who can afford one in this economy,” Bernard told Autoweek magazine. “Maybe we have to wait another year.”

Roger Penske, for one, said he that he preferred to keep the current Dallara for 2012, fitted with new engines if necessary.

Finish lines

Australian transport minister Tim Pallas called Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton a “dickkead” Tuesday for putting people’s lives in danger when police stopped him for a driving offence while in Melbourne. Hamilton, who was stopped at a red light, spun the tires of his high-powered Mercedes sports car right in front of a police officer this past Friday. Pallas was talking about his government’s advertising campaign to educate young people about driver safety — which features the slogan “Don’t be a dickhead” — when he was asked about Hamilton’s conduct.

“Well, yes OK, I’ll say it, he’s a dickhead.”


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