Saturday, 31 July 2010

Rhonda Trammell

In 2003 Rhonda was unable to race at the level she thought herself capable of, so launched a singing career. Her album was quite warmly received and is still available.

Rhonda has been writing music and poetry for a long time, but she has also been in motorsport for over twenty years. She began karting in 1983 at the age of eighteen, encouraged by her then-boyfriend. Compared to some, she was a late starter, but five years later she won the International Superkart Championship. This was followed by two years at the very top of the karting ladder, as none other than World Karting Champion.

She continued in karts in 1991, and scored two World Championship wins. She also enrolled at the famous Skip Barber Racing School and finished in the top ten of its Formula Ford Series in her first year of car racing.

For the next two years, Rhonda tried several junior formulae across America. She raced extensively in Barber Saab, and won her first race in Formula Russell. Keen to progress, she passed her Indy Lights Rookie Test in 1992, but lacked the funds to go further. The story remained the same for another five years, with Rhonda racing part seasons in the junior series, picking up a growing collection of good finishes along the way.

In 1998 she tried her hand at saloon car racing in the higher-profile PPG Chrysler Neon Celebrity Challenge. She won one race, at Minneapolis. This brought some welcome sponsorship opportunities and she was finally able to progress into the Barber Dodge Pro Series, the first step on the ladder to CART racing. She entered two races in 1999 and six in 2000.

2001 brought Rhonda's first full year in Barber Dodge, driving a Reynard single-seater. Her results were not spectacular, but she proved herself capable of finishing races and defending her track position at this level. She also contested that year’s Toyota Grand Prix of Detroit, and was fifth in a pro-celebrity race.

Klein Tools continued to sponsor her for the 2002 season, and some good results started to appear. She finished in the top ten in the first race of the season and was one of the top twelve finishers four times. Her performances were comparable with that year's champion John Fogarty the previous year. In order to learn the tracks better, she also kept her hand in lower down the US motorsports ladder, and won a Skip Barber Race Series event at the classic Sebring road course.

Rhonda planned to graduate to Toyota Atlantic in 2003, and tested with Lynx Racing at Buttonwillow, but the funds were not forthcoming and her plans were shelved. She had resigned as one of the PPG CART pace car team's elite female drivers in order to concentrate on her racing. Toyota Atlantic's loss was country-flavoured guitar pop music's gain.

For several years, Rhonda stated that she intended to return to motorsport once she had raised enough sponsorship. However, she is now described as “retired”.

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