Sunday, 8 June 2014

Stock Car Racing Outside the USA

Carole Perrin

This post is about women drivers racing stock cars outside of the USA, in NASCAR-style series and in Pickup Truck races. These have been a feature of South and Central American racing for many years. Mara Reyes now has her own profile. More recently, a European NASCAR series has been successfully launched, after a British version did not take off.

Nancy Gutierrez - began racing seriously in 2015, in the NASCAR Mexico Pro Series. During the season, she and her brother, Manuel, were both reprimanded by the authorities, although Nancy’s rebuke was for verbally abusing officials, rather than on-track conduct. She had a best finish of seventh, at Mexico City, and was sixteenth in the championship. She was the only woman taking part. In 2016, she entered the V6 Championship in Mexico, but only appears to have raced once, at Guadalajara. She was ninth.

Ana (Cecília) Mello - raced in the Stock Paulista championship from 2005 onwards, alongside her sister, Maria Izabel. They shared a car in their first year, but competed against each other after that. She continued to race in the championship until at least 2009. Her best result seems to be a win in the Light category in 2008, driving a Chevrolet Omega. In 2006, she drove an Omega with her sister in the Mil Milhas, finishing 17th. Her other results have proved hard to find, although she was usually strong in the Light class.

Maria Izabel Mello - sister of Ana Mello, who began racing at the same time. She raced her own car from 2006 onwards, although she and Ana were often in the same team. “Bel” seems to have been slightly less competitive than Ana, although she did have the upper hand on her in the 2006 Stock Paulista championship, finishing third in the Light championship to Ana’s fifth. She drove in the 2006 mil Milhas in a Chevrolet Omega, with Ana, Carlos Tigueis Batista and Leandro Mussio. They were 17th overall.

Maria Cristina Moreira - native of Rio de Janeiro who raced in Brazil in the 2000s, mainly in one-make series. In 2001, she participated in the Brazilian Women’s Ford Fiesta Championship, but was not among the front-runners. In 2002, she had a decent season in Pick Up racing (the Fiesta series toured with Pick Ups in 2001), and was eighth in the championship. She also raced in the Renault Clio Cup for at least some of its rounds in 2004, and finished fifteenth, from 25th on the grid, at Autodromo Nelson Piquet. Later, in 2006, she made some appearances in Stock Car racing, in a Yamaha-engined car. She was 16th overall. 

Fernanda Parra - started racing in 2004, in a Chevrolet Omega, in São Paulo. She was 16th in the Light class. The following year, she did her first Mil Milhas race, in the Omega, and was 38th. One of her team-mates was her father, Fernando. In 2006, she raced in the Light class of Brazilian Stock Cars, in a Chevrolet Astra this time. She was 23rd. That year, she also tried sportscar racing, and did four rounds of the Brazilian Trofeo Maserati, finishing fifteenth. A second visit to the Mil Milhas, with Fernando, gave her thirteenth overall, in the Omega again. Her third season of Stock Cars gave her a 36th place, in the Astra, and in 2008, she switched to Pickup racing. She was 18th in the championship after five races. Her last definite major appearance seems to have been one Stock Car race in 2008, where she drove a Mitsubishi Lancer. She may have raced Pickups in 2009, but no results are forthcoming.

Carole Perrin - former single-seater racer from France. After winning the French karting title, she tried ice racing in the Andros Trophy, and was third in the Trophée Féminin. She tried to enter Formula Ford in 2006, but the championship was cancelled. Although she tried to enter the Clio Cup, it was too late and she sat the year out. She returned to the scene in 2008, in the Formula Academy Euroseries. She only entered a few rounds, and crashed heavily in Dubai. She completed the whole series in 2009, but struggled somewhat in the races proper, despite managing fastest laps. As well as the Academy single-seater, she raced a NASCAR-style stock car in the Racecar series in France, finishing third on several occasions. She was 16th in the championship after missing some races. In 2010, she continued in Racecar, finishing fifth in the championship. Driving a Chevrolet Monte Carlo in Racecar in 2011, she scored her first win, although she did not complete the season, and was only 17th overall. Racecar was rebranded Euro Racecar NASCAR in 2012, and Carole stayed in the Elite class. She was 16th overall, with one podium finish: a third at Spa. A single Open class race at Brands Hatch gave her a win. In 2013, she ran a limited programme in Euro NASCAR, in the Elite class. Her best finish was fifth. She was sharing the car with Caty Caly. In 2014, she struggled for sponsorship, and tried to use crowdfunding to secure a race seat. She made a guest appearance at the Loire meeting of Euro NASCAR. She finished one race, in 20th place. Her sponsorship position was better in 2015; she took part in the whole Whelen NASCAR Euro series, in the Elite 2 class. Her best finish was sixth, at Zolder, one of four top-ten finishes. She was tenth overall. Despite doing quite well in 2015, she did not have enough sponsorship to race in 2016.

Gisela Ponce- Mexican driver who races in both NASCAR and touring cars. After several seasons of karting, she took her first steps in senior motorsport in 2009, racing in the VW Stock 1600 championship. She was fourth overall, and second in the rookie standings. In 2010, she undertook training with the Volkswagen works team, and competed in a VW in the regional Copa RC Racing series, finishing second after a very strong season. In 2011, she formed her own team, and contested the 1600cc Mexican Touring Car Championship, and was third overall. Her NASCAR adventures began in 2012, when she entered the Mexican Stock V6 NASCAR series for the first time, driving a Chevrolet for the OAM Ramirez team. Her best finish was fifth, at Mexico City, and she was almost always in the top ten. She was seventh overall. As well as NASCAR, she found time for some Mexican touring car races, in another Chevrolet, earning some more top ten finishes. For 2013, she had a lighter schedule, with only a couple of guest slots in NASCAR, but it was back to business in 2014, with a few races in NASCAR, yielding a fifth and eighth place, and a Chevrolet drive in the Super Touring 1 Light series, in which she was back on form, finishing fourth. In 2015, she made a move into truck racing, in the Campeonato Tractocamiones Freightliner. She was fifth overall. This was in addition to a season in the Mexican Super Touring 3 series, where she was sixth, with one podium place. Her car may have been a Chevrolet. Most of 2016 was spent truck racing, in a Freightliner. She did not do quite as well as in 2015, but was still ninth overall. Late in the season, she made a guest appearance in the Mexican V6 Series, and was eighth at Mexico City. She is from a motorsport family, with racers going back three generations.

Gabriela Prado – Brazilian driver who raced in the Whelen NASCAR Euro Series in 2015. Her car was a Chevrolet. Brands Hatch was her best circuit, and she was fifteenth in one of her races there. She was fifteenth in the championship. 2015 was her first season of car racing, although she had previously done some karting. She also competes in surfing.

Estefania Reyes - NASCAR racer from Mexico. She has been competing in Mexican stock cars since 2007, using a MotorSpeed Dodge. In 2008, she was 28th in the championship after completing ten races. Her best finish was thirteenth, at Queretaro. She was sponsored by Mattel's Barbie in 2007. Previously, she raced single-seaters in Mexico and was a front-runner in the 1600cc class in 2006. She is one of the youngest recorded female racing drivers, having made her debut at fifteen. She sat out the 2009 season after being injured in a road traffic accident, and returned to NASCAR Mexico in 2010, towards the end of the season. She continued in 2011, but only managed four races and struggled with qualification.

Regina Sirvent - races in NASCAR in Mexico. 2017 was her first season. She was 14 when she had her first race in a NASCAR pickup. Her best finish was seventh, at Pachuca, and she was eleventh overall. She also did a part-season in Mexican Super Touring, in the Light class. Her car was a Chevrolet. She was only 30th on the leaderboard due to missing most of the early rounds, but she did manage two top-ten finishes, the best of these being an eighth at Mexico City.

Isabelle Tremblay – raced stock cars in Canada between 2009 and 2013. She began her career in 2008, racing on short ovals, and became the first woman to win a race at the St-Eustache Autodrome. In 2009, she took her first steps in the ACT Castrol Series, with a part-season. In 2010, she did four races in the NASCAR Canadian Tyres Series, in a Ford, with a best finish of 20th, at Toronto. She did better in regional Sportsman races, finishing ninth in her championship. In 2011, she ran an expanded NASCAR programme, and her results improved, the best being an eighth place, at Mosport. If her finishing record had been better, she would have finished higher than twelfth in the championship, and could have won the Rookie title. That year, she also tried some single-seater racing, and won once in class in a Formula Ford race at Montreal. In 2012, it was back to NASCAR, in a Dodge this time, but she only took part in six races, finishing four of them. The best of these were two tenth places. She returned in 2013, but only for one round, at Trois- Riviéres. She was 20th. Away from motorsport, Isabelle is a radio presenter.
Kelly-Jayne Wells - front-runner in Pickup Truck racing in the UK. She has been in Pickups since 2004 and scored outright wins in 2005, 2006 and 2007, in both the Rockingham and UK championships. This is in addition to many top-five places, including a third in her first season. She has won four times overall. Her best championship finish is fourth in the Rockingham series and seventh in the overall championship. Previously, she raced on short ovals from a young age. She also drove a Eurobrun F1 car for a EuroBOSS press day, but did not actually compete. A lack of funding hindered her participation in 2008, but she found a race seat with Hodgson Motorsport for 2009. She drove in the first three meetings, with a best finish of fourth.

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