Saturday, October 27, 2012

Driver Spotlight: Makala Marks

Makala Marks

Makala Marks born into a racing family on qualifying day of the Indy 500 in 2002. Her father, Scott Marks, aka "Skid" currently works at Andretti Autosport and is a crew member on the 26 car of Marco Andretti. Makala's mother, Nikkia Lynch-Marks also born and raised around racing, was drag racing in her youth before she became a mother. Makala’s sister, Ashley Marks also with the interest in racing is currently enrolled at IU studying public relations and marketing of motorsports. Makala was a unique child from day one. Quite a little firecracker she wanted to do what the boys were doing and always doing something adventures and a little on the edge.
Makala suffered from a traumatic brain injury in 2005 and was left hospitalizied for 30 days. After 3 days of being unconscious and having very little signs of improvement the doctors decided to operate on her brain. Makala ended up waking up that day by some miracle she had many challenges ahead of her including battles with epilepsy, migraines, physical thereapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy but Makala was a fighter and bounced back way sooner than the doctors ever imagined. No one could predict what the future had for Makala due to her brain injury. Once the brain is damaged it never completely heals. It would be very interesting see what would happen from here. Before you could imagine Makala was back to herself riding her mini chopper, dirt bikes, 4 wheelers, and anything else that she could go fast on.
Makala had an interest in racing dirt bikes but her parents felt it would be a better idea to try something with four wheels so they took her to Whiteland Raceway to try out racing Go Karts. Makala began racing at the age of 8. She give it a practice run to see if she really wanted to do it. She was hooked the first time she hit the track. The following season she had her own Kart and was running a full season in Kid Kart class. Everyone was impressed with how quickly Makala not only got the hang of it but was running up front with the kids with much more experience. She became a very competitive race. Along the way she picked up sponsorship that helped her improve equipment and explore other tracks and racing circuits. Makala ended up having a great rookie year and was awarded Kid Kart Rookie of the year at Whiteland Raceway Park (first time in the 54 year history of WRP this award had been given to Kid Kart driver).
Makala won inaugural Indy Karting Classic Dec 2011. In 2012 won 9 races and 20+ podiums in her junior sportsman rookie year. She finished 1st in points at Whiteland Raceway in Indiana and her most recent win was at the Jay Burgess benefit at Whiteland Raceway in which she the won the Pole position, heat, and feature.
Makala has a dream to one day be in the Indy 500 and the icing on the cake would be to see that checkered flag and be standing in winner circle drinking milk!

To follow Makala Marks and her exciting career follow her on her Facebook page or her Twitter page

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Driver Spotlight: Jenna Grillo

Jenna Grillo

Jenna started racing when she was 10 years old. She is now in her 6th season of racing. She started racing in the tag cadet class at a local track. After two seasons she moved up to the world formula junior class. After two more seasons she started racing s5 class for the regional SKUSA series (it is a restricted 125cc shifter kart with a smaller carb.) She won the SKUSA midwest championship. This year she raced the midwest series, as well as the SKUSA national series.

She was kind enough to answer a few questions. You race nationally how often do you travel and where is your favorite racing track/location?

Jenna: The national series has 3 races, this year SpringNationals was in Phoenix, AZ. SummerNationals was in Salt Lake City, Utah, and SuperNationals is in Las Vegas, Nevada! My favorite track probably has to be Newcastle, Indiana. It is an awesome track that is perfect for shifter karts! What is your favorite moment in your racing career?

Jenna: I think my favorite moment in my racing career probably has to be in 2011 at Newcastle Motorsports Park. I swept the day, I qualified with the pole position. I won the prefinal by 10 seconds, and I won the final by 28 seconds! What do your friends fellow classmates say/ think about you racing?

Jenna: My friends at school all think it's the coolest thing ever that I race! Especially when I show up to school looking like a complete girly girl!! What are your other hobbies besides racing?

Jenna: My other hobby beside racing includes dancing, which I did nationally from the age of four to the age of twelve when I quit because I was missing too much racing for dance competitions! What is your ultimate goal for your racing career?

Jenna: My ultimate goal for my racing career is to get out of karts, move up the indy ladder, and win the Indianapolis 500! I realize this is a big goal, but I am a very ambitious girl, and I believe in myself!

"I absolutely love being a girl in a sport that is dominated by men! Taking my helmet off, and shaking my hair out while being infront of a line of guys I just finished infront of is a very rewarding feeling!"

Thank you Jenna for sharing your story! We look forward to watching you move up the Indy ladder to the Indianapolis 500. To find more information on Jenna and follow her career visit her Facebook page!/pages/Jenna-Grillo-Racing/155665724520041?fref=ts or her Twitter page

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Driver Spotlight: Stephanie Geare Season Results

Stephanie Geare Season Championship Winner & 2012 Yamaha Senior Champion at East Lansing Kart Track, East Lansing, MI

Congrats to Stephanie Geare who is the first woman to accomplish this goal at East Lansing Kart Track. Steph you are an inspiration to us all!
For more information on Stephanie visit my earlier post

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Driver Spotlight: Annabeth Barnes

Annabeth Barnes

Annabeth is only 17 years old but has an impressive 10 years of racing under her belt. As a kart racer she has captured over 200 wins, multiple state championships, was the first girl to ever win junior driver championship, and was a two-time Grand National Champion. In 2011, she raced her rookie year at Hickory Motor Speedway in limited late model division, where she captured first win of stock car career, nine Top 5 finishes and finished 4th out of 30 drivers. We were able to see the girl behind the helmet in the 2009 award winning documentary Racing Dreams and the reality tv miniseries Born to Drive, which aired on GAC in the fall of 2011.

I had some questions for Annabeth and she was gracious enough to share her story and advice.

How soon in your racing career did racing become your passion?

I think, for me, I was in love with racing before I even started. My father was a local short track racer, and my mom has always loved racing, so I grew up in a racing home. I was going to the track as long as I can remember.  I was probably about 5 years old when all I would say is that I was going to be the first women to win the Daytona 500. Being that young, of course, I couldn't have even begun to understand all the dedication and work that would come along with pursuing that dream. And looking back on it now it's crazy how my life has worked out up to this point. It really seems like this is what I am meant to be doing. I wasn't truly, 100% dedicated to racing until I was about 8 or 9. But for whatever reason, even being that young, I knew that this was my true love and something that I wanted to do everyday for the rest of my life. I feel like everyone has a purpose in life, everyone has a calling. Racing is mine.

You started racing at 6 (my oldest daughter started this year when she was 6 and my youngest will start next year when she turns 5), What advice would you give young girls about racing and what they will face as they progress in their racing careers?

My advice to a young girl entering this sport is very simple and overused, but it would be to never give up and never lose your faith. As a female in this mostly male sport, people are going to doubt you, look down on you, and not give you their respect. You have to work everyday to show the world that you belong in this amazing sport. And it's not always easy and it's not always fun, but anything worth having isn't going to be easy to get. Things get tough, but you cannot cannot cannot give up. Always believe in yourself.

What is your favorite accomplishment in your racing career?

Wow, that's a tough one. I think that my very favorite accomplishment in my career has been my first stock car win at Hickory Motor Speedway last year (2011). My whole life I had always been the best, in gokarts and even moving into some of the bigger stuff. But when I moved into my rookie season in a full size stock car, I wasn't the best anymore. But I learned more about hard work and dedication then I have ever learned, so to finally get that first win after a hard season was just amazing. I felt on top of the world, if even just for that moment. It also finally showed everyone that not only can I be a good gokart driver, or bando driver, but I am a good racecar driver. I finally got the respect that I had been searching for. And in my eyes, that was an accomplishment all on its own.

Thank you Annabeth for taking the time to share your advice and story with us. We look forward to watch you acheive your goal of winning the Daytona 500!! You can keep up with Annabeth by following her on facebook at or by visiting her website at

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Racing Buddies

Ashlee & Amanda

The first time we arrived at the race track in East Lansing Ashlee was so nervous. She had driven her kart around the parking lot at her father's work, but that was it. Her face lit up when she saw Amanda. She was so excited that she would not be the only girl. They have a great time at the track during and in between races. Amanda's parents were amazing and extremely supportive and still are. What a wonderful gift it is to have people around to encourage and support our little racers.

I am amazed how much these two girls have improved and evolved throughout the season. They have both put in so much work and effort. They are both tough competitors. Each of them have had their day at the top of the podium this year. I am so excited to see them continue to grow and I know they are capable of great things.

Great job girls!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Driver Spotlight: Julia Landauer

Julia Landauer

There are many words that describe Julia Landauer. Stanford University Student, New Yorker, Businesswoman and most importantly Race Car Driver.  Julia began racing at the age of 10. Her family felt it was a great sport that they could do together on the weekends. She immediately fell in love with it and told her parents that she wanted to continue racing and pursue a career.

Over the years Julia has expereinced many different forms of racing. I asked her her favorite thing about each form. "My favorite thing about go-karts is how quickly everything happens on track. My favorite thing about formula cars is how varied and technical the tracks are...they're like puzzles, which I find so interesting. My favorite things about stock cars/oval racing is the intensely close, bumper-to-bumper racing."

Goals are very important in any career, especially racing. What's Julia's ultimate goal for her racing career? "I'm a racer and hope to have the opportunity to race every type of automobile. That being said, my ultimate goal is to make a career off of racing."

Julia is studying ways to make racing more environmentally friendly. She is currently a student at Stanford University where she is earning a B.S. in Science, Technology & Society. When asked why she decided to take this direction she responded, "Growing up many people I described racing to would point out how harmful racing is for the environment. I don't want that to be the first thing that comes to peoples' minds. There are also so many areas in which racing can be slightly more efficient while making a big difference, which fascinates me."

Julia had this to share with young girls as they enter their racing careers, "Never take "no" for an answer! If you really want it and are willing to work your butt off to get it, no one should have the power to stop you. You can almost always work around obstacles."

For more information on Julia Landauer visit her website, like her facebook page, or follow her on twitter:, (Facebook Fan Page),

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Helpful Karting Publication

National Karting News

My husband and father-in-law have subscribed to National Karting News for as long as I can remember. I have actually started reading it as well. I have found some of the articles extremely helpful. I would recommend checking it out.

Here is what the magazine entails..

National Kart News, The Magazine...

Now into our 25th year, we pride ourselves on bringing you the news of karting from around the world. Each month we take you behind the scenes of many of the Events, but more importantly we show you ways to improve your standings and have more fun!

The magazine is a solid mix of technical how-to articles as well as testing and product reviews. In addition, we offer the behind the scenes news through our Company and Driver Profile pieces. Whether you're a mechanic, just like to go fast, or want to know more about the leaders within the karting industry, NKN does that and more!

National Kart News covers every aspect of the sport, from 4 cycles to the extreme Shifters and everything in-between. Each month we bring to you a blend of articles from each of those divisions and wow you with a catalog of action photography.

Just some of the stories you can expect to find each month are: engine tuning tips, carburetor and clutch adjustments tricks, setting up your chassis, tire tests, and Special Issues on Clutch Previews, Safety Apparel and our huge Chassis and Engine Buyers Guides.

If you're serious about winning or just getting started, we are your source for information!

For more information on National Karting News visit their website