With movies like Bullitt, Le Mans, On Any Sunday, Cars2, the name McQueen has long been synonymous with speed and cool drama. What the name isn't as universally identified with is being a girl - yet even that depends on who you ask. Question for example some of the fastest dirt midget drivers racing in the Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA), and they'll tell you Shannon "Lightning" McQueen is indeed a dramatically cool, supremely fast competitor. And of course from their angle, looking at the back of her helmet, it's tough for them to tell she's a girl.
#7 Spike/Esslinger Midget Driver Shannon McQueen
Shannon "Lightning" McQueen admits that being the first female to a lot of things does indeed motivate her to do even more.
Showcasing her skills and poise, the K&N sponsored, Bakersfield, California resident recently brought home two hard earned second place finishes, another new track record and an increased BCRA dirt points lead after two impressive runs at Silver Dollar Speedway and Placerville Speedway on successive nights.
"It was really nice to run second both nights, but of course we were a little disappointed that we did not get a win at least one of those nights as we had a really fast car both nights and had issues both nights," McQueen told K&N Race News. "Friday night at Chico we had a right rear tire go flat in the feature so we were really lucky to finish, let alone hang on for second."
Understating matters to a degree that would make Steve, the other McQueen proud, she says, "The car was really difficult to drive the last laps, as the car would not rotate in the corner. On Saturday night we had a great car for the feature, fell back to eighth, or tenth, and worked our way back up and had a chance at the win, but had a rear-end fail with 15 laps to go. That sprayed the rear-end fluid out on the brake rotor so I had no brakes. No excuses for the weekend though, just some minor issues. I think the highlight of the weekend was that we broke the track record at Chico on Friday, so now we have four current track records (Orange Show (pavement); Petaluma, Calistoga and now Chico (all on dirt)."
McQueen admits that being the first female to a lot of things really does motivate her. "It is really cool to be the first female driver to win a USAC Western States event (she remains the only female to win a race with the organization). I am also the first female driver to win on the dirt and pavement with BCRA."
McQueen in fact holds the 2011 BCRA dirt points series lead and stands to be the first female to win a championship in midget division on the West Coast. "We have set a lot of firsts in my career. I think I have paid my dues and the guys see me as a racer. The newer ones coming in don't, they just see me as a girl, however, they find out pretty quick that I am serious about this and I am a racer first."
2011 is by far McQueen's finest season to date she says. "We have a string of top-three finishes with BCRA and do not have a finish outside the top-five with them so far this year. I think we only have one finish outside of the top-ten for the year. We are very blessed with the season we have had, so I can't really complain even if there aren't more wins. My team and I have been super dedicated to the season this year, and have had a lot of luck."
When discussing the importance of setting track records McQueen says, "I think the one that I am most proud of is Calistoga. That race track and race is pretty prestigious so that is really cool. Setting track records is pretty neat, but to back them up with great finishes is good as well. It means you were fast all night and did not just get lucky."
Next up for McQueen Racing is Chico, where she will be running two cars for the night, then it's back to Bakersfield for a race this weekend (Sept. 10). "There are two more races with BCRA for the championship so hopefully we can wrap that deal up. We have an opportunity to wrap it up Thursday night at Chico if we have a good run, so that would be great, then we will have no pressure the last race of the year."
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