At age fifteen Wendy Mathis became the first female to win the Florida State Quarter Midget Championship
At the ripe age of fifteen she became the first female to win the Florida State Quarter Midget Championship. Since 2001, Wendy has competed with the Tampa Bay Area Racing Association (TBARA) Sprint Car Club, and she is currently competing full-time in the O'Reilly USCS Asphalt Thunder Series (Winged Pavement Sprint Car).
With the paint still wet on this new decade's Open for Business sign, Mathis is already in Australia, ready to take on a new challenge - the dirt tracks of Australia. Her debut has been delayed slightly though. In her January 3, blog entry she writes, "It's raining cats and dogs (kangaroos and wallabies) down here. Dubbo and Parramatta both got rained out, so I've been playing tourist waiting for another race, which should be on Monday (January 4, 2010).
To prepare for her Australian assault Mathis first spent time with Sprint Car Yoda Cory Kruseman. "Right off the bat I have to thank K&N Filters for helping me get into the Cory Kruseman Sprint Car & Midget School (Ventura, California) right before I flew over here. That was a lot of learning in a short amount of time, and it really helped me out tremendously."
"I actually attended Cory's school on December 20. I had the opportunity to race against Cory in the "Little 500" some years ago, so I knew that he was a very talented driver. I had heard a lot of great things about his school and I couldn't wait to get instruction from one of the best in the business," explains Mathis.
"Some of the things that Cory was able to help me with were understanding the cushion, and how to use it properly - how to read the race track - throttle control and braking - and correctly entering and exiting corners."
"Cory took a lot of extra time with me to make sure that I understood as much as possible. Unfortunately, because of scheduling problems (the Ventura County Fair Association had pre-scheduled a horse show), our time together was very brief, so I had to learn as much as I could really fast."
Wendy has competed with the Tampa Bay Area Racing Association (TBARA) Sprint Car Club Since 2001 and currently competing full-time in the O'Reilly USCS Asphalt Thunder Series
"If anyone is transitioning from pavement to dirt, or if they are already driving on the dirt, but want to hone their skills, or even if they just want a once in a lifetime experience, I highly recommend that they take Cory Kruseman's Sprint Car and Midget Driving School. This was an amazing experience and I can't thank Bob Harris at K&N enough for arranging it for me," says Mathis.
We asked Mathis how the decision to travel to the other side of the planet to race came about. "This is truly one of those opportunities that found me," says Mathis. "Todd, my marketing guy, my business manager, Josh, and my friend Brian, created a website to help keep sprint car fans in Florida up to date.
The Skene family (Craig, Trisha and their kids Zara, Jackson and Laura) where in the planning stages of a visit from Australia to the United States, to the Orlando area, to visit Disney World, among other things. Craig, being the hardcore racer that he is, managed to work in a few trips to speedways around Florida during their visit. Craig found www.FloridaSprintCarFans.com and contacted Todd. Together Todd and Josh compiled a list of every possible type of sprint car racing for Craig to take in during his visit." That's how the initial connection to Mathis came about.
As fate should have it, the first race on that list was only hours after the Skene's arrived in Orlando. Mathis and TBARA were racing at Desoto Super Speedway in Bradenton, Florida. There was a lengthy, but fortuitous rain delay that night, which provided Mathis plenty of time to chat and get familiar with the entire Skene family, and they hit it off well. "The entire family is so cool," says Mathis.
Mathis nearly won that night, running in third place for most of the race. Craig was "blown away" not just by Mathis, but with how fast and close the racing was. After the race, the family asked Mathis what she was doing for the next couple of weeks? She wasn't busy, so she agreed to show them around Florida.
"This incredible opportunity came about when Craig and his family invited me to travel to Australia and drive for them. I had done some research on Craig when I heard that he was coming over, and I knew that he was one of the best non-wing drivers in Australia. Craig is one of only a few drivers to reach the number one spot in Australia multiple times," adds Mathis. "So, to have the chance to drive his car was something that I couldn't pass up. It's one of those things you really usually only dream about."
"The Skene Family Racing Team has done a great job making sure I don't have too much down time out of the car," says Mathis. "I'm going to squeeze in six races in four weeks. I have two races scheduled at the famous Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway (TPCR) in Sydney. I also have three races scheduled at Dubbo City Speedway, and one at Norwa Speedway. The history at TPCR is incredible; I can't believe that my first race ever on dirt will be there. How do you top that?"
"I really have to say that K&N really is the best filter in the world," says Mathis. "I've always believed in their products, but after touring the production facility and seeing the lengths that K&N goes through to assure that they stay the best is amazing."
"I use the K&N Sprint Car Air Box and the Wrench Off oil filters. I also use the K&N filter cleaner and filter oil to keep my air box working like new, and the K&N Pre-Filter to keep the pleats from getting clogged with debris. The entire staff at K&N has been so helpful since I've been a part of the team. I just can't say enough good things about everyone at K&N. They really pride themselves on building relationships. Whether you're a retail customer, or a sponsored driver, you get their very best every time."
2010 will be Mathis' second season as a team owner and by all indications she has no intentions of slowing down. "There's a lot of pressure being the team owner and the driver. A lot of that is self-inflicted though. I expect more of myself and refuse to settle for less. I've got some big ideas for 2010 that I would like to announce, but I'm not quite ready just yet. I guess that will have to be another story."
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