Sunday, 19 February 2017

The Women of NASCAR: the 21st century

Natalie, Paige and Claire Decker

Below are profiles of some of the female NASCAR drivers who have tried to make their mark on the ovals, and began their careers after 2000. Earlier drivers can be found here. Leilani Munter now has her own post.

Amber Balcaen - former sprintcar racer who is now working her way up the NASCAR ladder. She took part in the NASCAR Driver for Diversity in 2014 and 2016, as well as competing in Late Model racing in 2016. She was third in the Whelen All-American Series, with one win and six more podiums. She was the first Canadian female driver to win a NASCAR-sanctioned event. In 2017, she raced in the NASCAR K&N Series, in a Toyota Camry. She was 20th at New Smyrna in her only major outing. She took part in one race in the CARS Super Late Model Tour series in 2018, at Hickory. However, she crashed out early on. In 2019, she made another guest appearance in the same series, finishing fourteenth at Radford.

Toni Breidinger - made her ARCA debut in 2018, driving a Toyota for Venturini Motorsports. Her first race was at Madison and she finished tenth. She was then twelfth at Gateway and 18th at Chicago. Her team-mate was Natalie Decker, and they were joined by Leilani Munter at Chicago, making up the first three-woman team in the series. She made one appearance in the CARS Super Late Model Tour in 2019, finishing 15th at Radford. Away from ARCA, Toni races in the USAC Silver Crown championship for dirt cars and in Late Models. She previously raced in sprintcars against her twin sister, Annie.

Amber Cope - occasional racer in NASCAR and other stock-car series, always alongside her twin sister, Angela Cope. Between 2006 and 2008, she competed in three ARCA races in a Chevrolet. Since then, she has raced in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Nationwide series, averaging one race per season. In 2012, she finished 26th at Loudon, and got involved in a row with Kevin Harvick after he accused her of pushing him off the track. Prior to her NASCAR activities, she raced Late Model stock cars from the age of 15, and before that, karts, with some degree of success. She and Angela are also models, and use their profile to promote themselves as drivers.

Sarah Cornett-Ching – Canadian driver who races in both ARCA and NASCAR junior series events. In 2015, she achieved five top-ten finishes in the ARCA Series, the best of these being two eighth places, at Talladega and Chicagoland. She was seventh in the championship. Driving the same Chevrolet, she has had less success in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, with two DNFs from three races. In 2011, she raced in the Canadian NASCAR series, and before that, in Sportsman events in Canada. In 2015, she was selected for the Race 101 team on a multi-year contract. Her 2016 season was partly spent in ARCA, where she earned a ninth place at Pocono, plus six other finishes from eight races. Again, she did not perform quite as well in the K&N Pro Series, with an eleventh at Mobile the best result from her five races. She had to sit out the last part of the season due to suffering a concussion in September, picked up in a crash at Kentucky. In 2017, she returned in March and did some local-level Late Model racing. She did one major Late Model race in 2018, the CARS Super Late Model Tour event at Carteret County Speedway. Her final classification was tenth, although she crashed 25 laps from the end. In 2019, she entered the Hickory and Rougemont races, with a best finish of 15th in the latter.

Erin Crocker - took part in ARCA and Craftsman Truck races between 2005 and 2007. She was quite successful in ARCA in 2005, with a best finish of second and five top tens from six starts. After a couple of Busch Series outings, she moved full-time to Trucks in 2006. Unfortunately, she did not do as well, and was only 25th at the end of the year. She returned to ARCA and achieved one pole position, but could not convert it into a race result. Her NASCAR career ended badly after a series of allegations made against her team manager, who later became her husband. Prior to her stock car career, she was a multiple race winner in World of Outlaws sprintcar racing, and she made a low-key return to it in mid-2010.

Claire Decker - sister of Paige Decker, who also races in Craftsman Trucks. She took part in two races in 2016, driving for Jennifer Jo Cobb’s team, and finished one, at Martinsville. She was 27th. In June, she also attempted to qualify for the Iowa Xfinity race, but did not make the final cut. Paige was in action too, making them the second sister pairing to race against one another, after Amber and Angela Cope. Claire began, like her sister, by racing snowmobiles, and on short tracks.

Paige Decker - raced in Craftsman Trucks in 2015 and 2016. Both times, she entered the Martinsville rounds. Her best finish came in 2016, when she was 25th. That year, she also did two Xfinity Series races, at Iowa and Road America, finishing 31st both times. Previously, she raced in the Whelen All-American Series, and in short-track stock cars in 2010 and 2011. Her earliest motorsport experiences were racing snowmobiles, from the age of three. She is from a motorsport family, and has a sister, Claire, and a cousin, Natalie, who also race.

Gabi DiCarlo – began her stock car career in ARCA in 2007, driving a Ford. She did well in her first year of major competition, finishing eleventh in the championship. In 2008, she gained sponsorship from Great Clips, a hair salon chain, and raced a Chevrolet in the ARCA Series. She scored three top ten finishes, at Pocono and Kansas, the best of these being a ninth at Kansas. She was fourteenth overall. In 2009, she was approved to race in NASCAR-sanctioned events, and Stringer Motorsports contracted her for a seven-race deal in the Camping World Truck series. Unfortunately, her programme was cut to three races, early in the year. Her best finish was 19th, at California. For the rest of the year, the team ran her in selected ARCA races. Her best finish was eleventh, at Salem. After a part-season, she was 31st overall. She does not appear to have raced at all since then.

Maryeve Dufault - Canadian driver who switched to stock car racing full-time in 2011. She drove a Dodge Charger in the ARCA series, supported by Mad Croc and Dodge Motorsports. After seven top-twenty finishes, she was sixteenth overall, with a best finish of tenth at Chicagoland. She also secured entry into one NASCAR Nationwide race, at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. In 2012, she put together a budget for three ARCA races, driving a Dodge for Carter 2 Motorsports. She finished two of them, with a best result of 19th, at Kansas. In 2013, she drove in one NASCAR Nationwide Series race, finishing 31st, at Chicagoland. Previously, in 2010, she competed in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. Much earlier, she raced karts and snowmobiles, and motocross bikes. She is currently better-known as a model. In 2014, she did three Nationwide Series races for Team Stange, in a Ford. Her best finish was 17th, at Mobile. She did not race in 2015 or 2016.

Allison Duncan (Bormann) - has been working her way through the NASCAR ranks since 2003. Although she has shown considerable pace, and achieved top-five finishes, her big break has yet to come. Her early racing experiences were in sportscars, where she won SCCA championships in a Mazda RX7 and drove in the WGGTS. She was Daytona’s youngest female driver at the 2000 24-Hour race, aged eighteen, and she and her Chamberlain team-mates were sixth overall in their Dodge Viper. After that, she was co-opted into a NASCAR driver development programme, and subsequently, she has driven Craftsman Trucks and Late Model stock cars. Her best result in NASCAR is probably her fifth place in the NASCAR Late Model Division cahmpionship, which came in 2004. In 2005, she recorded two wins in this championship. She has not raced since 2006, and now works as a precision driving instructor.

Cassie Gannis – active in NASCAR-sanctioned events in the USA. Her first NASCAR outings were in the ACDelco Super Late Models series; at sixteen, she was the youngest driver to hold a full NASCAR competition license. After a break, she moved up to the K&N Pro Series in 2011, for three races. The best of these were at Colorado and Spokane, where she was sixteenth. In 2012, she did five races in her Ford, and was fifteenth in one, at Havasu. Although she was not able to mount any championship challenge, she was voted the “Most Popular Driver” in the series. Prior to this, she had been part of NASCAR’s much-vaunted “Drive For Diversity” programme. Another break from competition followed. Cassie entered the PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge, attempting to win a race seat with Michael Waltrip’s team. She was a finalist, but did not win. In 2015, she tried to get her career going again, signing up for the Camping World Truck series with Mike Harmon Racing. Sadly, her one race with the team led to a non-qualification, at Phoenix. She picked up another ride in ARCA, with the Carter 2 team, but the same thing happened, at Daytona. She was linked to another Truck drive for 2016, but this appears to have fallen through. In 2018, she made a small comeback, entering three K&N Pro Series races and finishing one at Tucson. She was 16th. At the start of 2019, she tried out for the all-female W Series but was eliminated after the first driver selection.

Johanna Long - drove in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series in 2011. Her best finish was eleventh, at Texas Motor Speedway. In addition to this, she was raced in other Truck races at her home tracks of Five Flags and Mobile, with five top-ten finishes to her name: two fifths and three ninths. She made her NASCAR Truck debut in 2010 and earned three top-twenty positions, alongside a string of excellent results in regional series, in a truck and in a Late Model car. Previously, she raced Late Models, since the age of fifteen, and is the only woman to have won a Late Model race in her local series. She also won the 2010 Snowflake Derby off-season race. In 2012, she raced a Chevrolet in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. She managed a large proportion of the championship - 21 races - and had a best finish of twelfth. She was 20th in the championship. She continued with the ML Chevrolet in 2013, with another best finish of twelfth, plus a few more top-twenty positions. She was 23rd overall. At the end of the season, the team folded, and Johanna did not have enough sponsorship to continue in top-level stock car competition, despite a win in the Snowball Derby. She returned to Late Model competition locally, and was the points leader of her championship for much of the year. In 2015, she made a small comeback, taking part in one NASCAR Xfinity Series race, at Iowa. She was 27th. She also entered the Richmond race, but did not qualify.

Molly Rhoads - raced in a number of US series on and off in the 2000s and 2010s. She began competing seriously at Raceway Park in Minnesota in 2004 and was Late Model Rookie of the Year. Two years later, she was fourth in the Raceway Late Model points and ninth in the Minnesota Late Model Challenge, leading to a spot in NASCAR’s Drive For Diversity programme. In 2007, she raced on the ASA Midwest Tour, alongside her brother. She competed on and off in this category until 2011. As well as driving, Molly has worked as a crew chief for Bryan Roach, who raced on the ASA Midwest Tour. She now devotes most of her time to animal care.

Kenzie Ruston - raced in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East between 2013 and 2015. During this time, she did three full seasons, and scored top-five finishes on seven occasions. The best of these was a third at Greenville, in 2013. It was one of four top-five places, and Kenzie was sixth in the championship, in her Chevrolet. In 2014, she was ninth, and she did not do quite as well in 2015, in a Toyota. She did get into the top ten four times, the best of these being a sixth place at Smithton. In 2016, she returned to short-oval competition.

Kristi Schmitt - raced in NASCAR’s regional and entry-level series between 2001 and 2005. She raced in both the Southwest and Northwest series in 2001, starting three races overall, with a best finish of 18th, at Irwindale. She was fourteenth at Evergreen in 2002, driving a Chevrolet, but it was the only race she qualified for. 2004 was the last time she qualified, in the K&N West Series this time. She was fourteenth again, at Mesa Marin. She attempted to qualify for the same race in 2005, but did not make it.

Chrissy Wallace - raced in the second-tier Nationwide NASCAR series in 2010. She competed in the Daytona 500 and Talladega Superspeedway rounds, with a best finish of 24th at Talladega. This followed part-seasons in Craftsman Trucks in 2008 and 2009. She was usually driving for the Germain Racing team in a Toyota and managed three top-twenty finishes in 2008 at Martinsville, Milwaukee and Gateway. The following year, she improved this record with a thirteenth place at Talladega, driving a Rick Ware-run Chevrolet. She also made occasional ARCA appearances in 2008 and 2011, earning a ninth place at Talladega in 2008, driving a Germain Toyota. Early in her career, she raced at her local Hickory Speedway in North Carolina and won her first race in 2007. She is a member of the noted Wallace NASCAR clan.

Dominique van Wieringen - Canadian driver who has mostly competed in Late Model stock cars. In 2012 and 2013, she won both races and championships in Late Models. In 2014, she set her sights on NASCAR. In preparation, she did some ARCA races, achieving one second place at the Lucas Oil I10 Speedway, and another fifth, in 2015. In 2016, she took part in the NASCAR K&N Series East, for Rette Jones Racing. Towards the end of the season, she recorded two third places, at Greenville and Dover, and was ninth in the championship. She also made a guest appearance in the Camping World Truck series at Phoenix, but she did not finish. She raced in Trucks again in 2017, but only made one major appearance. She was third at Langley.

(Image copyright

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Abbie Eaton

Abbie Eaton is a British sportscar racer, who was a leading driver in the 2016 British GT championship.

Abbie started competing in the SaxMax junior championship in 2007, after four years of competitive karting. She was fourteenth overall in her first year, with a best finish of fourth overall.

She improved dramatically in 2008, to take fourth in the championship this time. Apart from two DNFs, she was never out of the top ten all season, although a win eluded her. Her best finish was second at Pembrey, and her lowest was sixth at Donington. She earned three podiums and two fastest laps.

In 2009, upon turning 17, she moved up to the Dunlop Sportmaxx Championship for production cars, driving a Vauxhall Corsa. She won her class fifteen times, and was crowned Class B champion at the end of the year.

Despite winning a championship in her first full season as a senior driver, she could not find enough sponsorship to race in 2010, other than a guest appearance in the Max5 championship for Mazda MX-5s. She was third.

In what would become a pattern for the next few seasons, she entered the Max5 championship in 2011, running for a part-season. Her best finish was fourth.

She returned to the series in 2012, but again, only managed a part-season, due to a major sponsor pulling out and an engine failure. Her best finish was fifth.

She did another part-season of four races in 2013, scoring a win at Oulton Park, and three other podiums.

In 2014, she made a full return to motorsport, in the MX-5 Supercup. Driving for the AE Racing  team, she fought off Tom Roche and won the title by one point, after five outright wins.

Most of 2015 was spent racing a BMW M3 for Geoff Steel Racing in the GT Cup, a step up in power for her. She won one race, at Silverstone, and achieved five more top-three finishes: three seconds and two thirds. This left her fifth in the championship. She and her team-mate, Michael Symons, were never out of the top five, apart from two DNFs.

She raced a Maserati GranTurismo MC in the 2016 British GT Championship, driving for Ebor GT Motorsport. Her team-mate was Marcus Hoggarth. She was a creditable fourth overall, and second in the Pro-Am class, with one second place at Oulton Park, and two more fourth places, at Spa and Donington. Ebor was a new team for 2016, and they had their difficulties, although Abbie was able to perform well and finish eight out of nine races.

Despite her solid results in 2016, Abbie was not retained by the team for 2017. She impressed in a one-off drive in the Blancpain Endurance Series, winning the Am class in an AF Corse Ferrari 488, but this did not lead to any more outings. Later in the year, she had a guest drive in the British GT Championship in a Ginetta G55, coming ninth in the GT4 class.

Late in 2017, Abbie was named as one of the resident test drivers for Amazon TV's The Grand Tour. She has appeared on screen several times and remained part of the team for 2018 and 2019.

2018 did not feature a regular drive, but she did make some impressive appearances in the JET Super Touring Trophy, driving a Holden Commodore which was one of the oldest and heaviest cars on the grid.

Australia was the new focus of her racing aspirations in 2019. She signed up for the Super2 Series, the junior championship for V8 Supercars, driving a Holden Commodore for Matt Stone Racing. It was not the easiest of debuts at Adelaide; she finished two of her three races with a best result of fourteenth. No more funding for extra races was forthcoming and she had to return to the UK.

In November, she was offered the VIP car for the Saudi rounds of the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy, supporting the first Formula E race of the season. She was fourth both times. Shortly afterwards, she was announced as a driver for the 2020 W Series, despite having been sceptical of the concept previously.

In future, she has expressed interest in both Le Mans, and the Australian V8 Supercar series.

(Image from

Monday, 13 February 2017

Jade Edwards

Jade with the Mini in 2016

Jade Edwards is a British sportscar racer. She is the younger sister of Chloe Edwards, and the pair sometimes race together.

She began racing in 2006, in the Ginetta Junior championship, as a fifteen-year-old. Chloe, who is three years older, had raced in the series the year before, so Jade used her old car. Her best result appears to have been fourth, at the Ginetta Junior Festival in 2006, and she was ninth in the championship.

Later, in 2008, after she had graduated from junior competition, she shared Chloe’s MG ZR for the SportMaxx Cup. The pair occasionally drove together.

They competed against each other in the 2010 Max5 Championship, driving different Mazda MX-5s this time.  

In 2011, Jade returned to Max5 with the family team. She had to sit out the mid-part of the season due to crashing her car at Rockingham, and the engine then blowing up at Donington. However, she managed some top-ten finishes in class.

In 2012, she was 37th in the championship, with a best finish of two third places, plus nine more top tens. She did not run a whole season.

In 2014, she made a comeback after a quiet period, driving a Ginetta G55 in the British GT4 championship. She took part in three races, finishing two of them, with a best finish of ninth, at Spa. She was also tenth at Snetterton, with co-driver Matthew Draper. Later in the season, she made a guest appearance in the Aston Martin GT4 Challenge at Donington, this time with Chloe. They won their race, which was a female first for the championship, and probably for the marque. Driving for the Craft-Bamboo team, Jade also took part in three other races.

In October, she did her first international endurance race, the 12 Hours of Hungary. She was driving a Volkswagen Golf with Tom Onslow-Cole and Paul White. They were seventh overall, and won their class.

Most of 2015 was spent in the British GT4 Championship, driving the Aston Martin for the Stratton/UltraTek team. Her best finishes were a pair of tenth places, at Rockingham and Snetterton, and she was 25th overall. Chloe was among her team-mates, alongside George White and David Tinn. Late in the season, she drove a MARC Focus in the Catalunya 24 Hours, as part of an international driving squad, but did not finish. This was a guest spot with an Australian team. They had been leading their class until the 22nd hour.

In 2016, she took a step back from racing, and spent some time as a driving instructor to Johnny Vegas on ITV's motorsport game show, Drive. She made a guest appearance in the Knockhill round of the Celticspeed Mini Cooper Cup, in support of a hospice charity, and at the end of the season, contested the 25 Hours of Spa Fun Cup race. She and her team-mates were second.
Her last event of the year was the Race of Remembrance at Anglesey, in which she drove a VW Golf with Tom Onslow-Cole, Chris Hoy and Jon-Allan Butterworth. This was her third run in the charity race, in aid of injured service personnel. She won the inaugural one in 2014, and finished on the podium in 2015.

In 2017, she raced in the Clio Cup for Ciceley Motorsport. It was a challenging year with a tight budget, which limited her opportunities for testing. She did prove herself capable of getting on the pace with two top-ten finishes: a ninth at Croft mid-season, then an eighth at Silverstone in September. Her final championship position was 16th.

She raced for the MRM team in the 2018 Clio Cup. It was an eventful year, with a few dramatic accidents as well as four top-ten finishes. She rolled heavily at Oulton Park and a crowdfunding campaign was needed to get her back in the championship. She also had her share of being collected by other peoples' accidents. In addition to this, she was stung by a sponsorship deal that turned out to be a scam mid-season. Again, her supporters rallied round to help her. She was 14th in the championship.

Her third season as a Clio driver was with Team Hard. She was seventh in the championship after a more consistent season with slightly fewer funding constraints relating to accident damage. Her best finish was a fourth place at Brands Hatch, the second race of the season.

When not actively racing, Jade works within the motorsport industry, as a driving instructor, PR person and even as a tyre technician. In 2014, she was one of the safety car drivers for the BTCC. She is a third-generation racer, the daughter of Jim Edwards Jr.

(Image copyright Chloe Edwards)

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Mara Reyes

Mara in 2016

Mara Reyes was the first Mexican woman to race in NASCAR in the States. In recent years, she has been one of Mexico’s leading saloon racers.

She comes from Pachuca, and like many other speedqueens, as well as NASCAR drivers, she got into motorsport through her father. In 1987, when she was ten, she navigated for him in rallies. She had to wait until she was fourteen before she could get on the circuits.

1991 was her first season of circuit racing. She drove a spaceframe VW Beetle in a junior series. She was the only female driver in the championship, and was fifth overall, as well as Rookie of the Year.

The next four seasons were mostly spent in the Mexican endurance championship. Despite still only being fifteen, Mara was tackling 12- and 24-hour races in the GT II class in 1992. She was eleventh in the championship, with a best finish of sixth, earned in a twelve-hour race. Unfortunately, it is unclear which car she drove. In 1993, she moved up to the GT III class. She continued to improve, and was ninth in the championship.

1995 saw her try a wider range of racing disciplines. Her main focus was still the GT III championship, in which she was now a serious contender, with podium finishes. Later in the season, she joined the new one-make Chrysler Neon Challenge, in which she was eleventh. This was only a part-season, as she was sharing the car with her father, Miguel.

Another achievement was being invited to take part in the Shell Grand Prix, in El Salvador. This was a race for Super Touring cars, giving Mara a taste of more power. She was fifth overall, and  third in class. Again, the make of her car is not recorded. That season, she also raced trucks, and a Nissan prototype.

After a good 1995, she was offered support by Daimler-Chrysler of Mexico for 1996, and her single-seater career began. The company arranged for her to attend the Skip Barber racing school. Saloons had definitely not been forgotten, however; her second season in the Neon Challenge included a win and a third place, plus three pole positions. Again, she was part of the Chrysler team. She was eleventh in the championship. Some more Truck racing netted her more good results, and she was eighth in the Mexican championship.

She continued to be competitive in the Neon Challenge in 1997, winning a race and coming second in another. She was tenth overall. Her Truck results kept improving, too, and she was fourth in the championship. This year’s big challenge was meant to be a one-make series for the Ford Mustang, but Mara’s sponsorship only stretched to one race, in which she was fifth.

In 1998, she put together a deal for a full season in the Mustang, and was ninth in the championship. By now, she was showing some real speed in a race truck, and she was that year’s championship runner-up. This earned her attention from the Scuderia Rodriguez team. After learning to drive a single-seater in 1996, she drove one competitively in 1998, coming seventh in Formula Mexico, a series for Skip Barber Formula cars.

Mara continued to race in multiple series in 1999, but it was truck racing in which she really excelled. She was second in the Mexican championship again, and would win the title outright in 2000. This was the first of two truck championships, as she defended her title in 2001.

During this period, she not only raced HGVs, but Pickups as well. She took to Pickup trucks immediately, and was second in 2001. In 2002, she raced in a Dodge Pickup championship, finishing third.

She continued to race the Mustang, and improved steadily, finishing eighth in 1999 and moving up to fifth in 2000 and 2001. She was tenth in 2002.

2003 was a season when a lot went wrong for Mara. She struggled for sponsorship, and did only a few races in the Mustang, and in Pickups, at the start of the season. She had established herself in third place in the Pickup series, but slipped down the rankings due to her enforced absence.

Things improved dramatically for her in 2004. She was signed by the Telmex team to contest the Corona Mexican Stock Car Championship. This was a new championship, and Mara claimed the first pole position. She was sixth overall, with one podiium finish. The series was very popular and had large grids, and the final points table was very close towards the top.

Her Mexican stock car adventures inspired her to try for a seat in NASCAR, and her team and sponsors agreed. Driving for the Telmex team, she was classified 18th in a K&N Pro Series race at Irwindale, in 2004. She had been running as high as twelfth, but was black-flagged and just sneaked a qualification instead. This did not deter her, and she took a step up to the Busch Series in 2005, one below the Sprint Cup. She was signed to drive Jay Robinson’s Ford for the Mexico City round. This ended in a disappointing 35th place finish, although she was only five laps down. She had secured her place in the annals of motorsport, however, as the first Mexican woman to race in a NASCAR-sanctioned event.

Another season in the Corona series in 2005 gave her eighth. She had worked her way up to second place when she had to drop out due to illness. This signalled the end of her time with Telmex, and the conclusion of the first part of her career. She retired for a long time, to spend more time with her family. This was partly down to problems with sponsorship, too.

After a long lay-off, she returned to the track in 2015, driving a Mercedes in the V8 Super Copa. She was ninth overall, despite being out of the cockpit for the best part of ten years.  

In 2016, she was third in the Mexican Super V8 Challenge, taking one win at Monterrey, and three second places. These were her first podium places since her comeback. She was supported by the Arris-Telmex team, and picked up plenty of favourable media attention.

That year, she also made a return to NASCAR, in the Mexican series. Her Arris-Telcel team got her guest spots on the grid for the first two rounds, in Mexico City. She was eighteenth and fourteenth.

She planned to race with the Telmex team again in 2017, but this does not seem to have happened.

(Image from

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Kat Teasdale

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Kat with the Bakeracing Corvette

Kathryn Teasdale, known as Kat, was a Canadian driver, born in 1964.

She started out in Formula 2000 in 1988, after having to give up competitive skiing due to a knee  injury. Twenty-four was quite late to begin a racing career, but she quickly made up for lost time. Between her ski injury in 1984 and her Formula Ford debut in 1988, she competed in slalom and autosolo events, sometimes in a Corvette.

Her original aim was to move into the “A” Class of F2000, but instead, she got herself a seat in the televised Player’s GM Motorsport Series, driving a Chevrolet Camaro. She raced in the championship’s East division in 1988 and 1989. She was able to use the Camaro in the IROC-2 series and Trans-Am. Her skill with the Camaro led to her being picked up by the Bakeracing team, for their Corvette programme.

She raced the car in 1991, and one of her best results was in the Escort World Challenge 24 Hour race at Mosport Park. As part of a five-driver team including Boris Said, she was second. Other highlights included a fourth place at Saltillo in Mexico. She was sixth in the Escort World Challenge.

1992 saw her combine sportscar racing with a return to single-seaters. Brian Stewart, an old friend of Kat’s, offered her a test at Vancouver in his Toyota Atlantic car, followed by one race. This never led to a full-time race seat, but she did compete in two Indy Lights races in 1992, driving for the Leading Edge team. At Toronto, her race was halted on the first lap by an electrical problem. She got to the end at Vancouver, in fourteenth place, six laps down. At the time, she knew she was unable to go for wins, but she gave it a shot anyway.

Ever-keen to try new forms of racing and put herself out there, Kat entered the CASCAR stock car series in Canada in 1993. Her car was a Chevrolet. She won the Rookie of the Year prize.

She has raced in Toyota Atlantics, the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand-Am and other championships, in the US and Canada.

1994 was probably her best year for sportscars. She was part of the O’Brien team for the IMSA GT championship, driving a Camaro. Her first race was the Daytona 24 Hours; this was her first attempt at a major US classic. Leigh O’Brien had assembled an all-female team of herself, Kat, Tami Rai Busby, Linda Pobst and Margy Eatwell. They finished the race in 47th. Kat was also a member of Leigh Miller’s team, driving a Porsche 968 with Miller and John Graham. They were seventeenth.

Kat, Leigh O’Brien and Linda Pobst made up the O’Brien team for the Sebring 12 Hours. They were 42nd in their Camaro. Driving solo, Kat was twelfth at Road Atlanta, in the O’Brien Camaro.

Her performance in 1994 led to an offer from the Pontiac factory team for 1995. Kat drove a Firebird with Doug Goad, and they were third and fourth in the IMSA Endurance championship, behind their team-mates, Andy Pilgrim and Joe Varde. This helped Pontiac to the manufacturer’s title. Kat and Andy Pilgrim teamed up for the 1996 season. Results for the IMSA Endurance series are proving hard to find, and they may not have raced together all year, as Andy Pilgrim was on duty in the IMSA GT championship as well.

1997 saw a new challenge for Kat: another try at stock cars. This time, she was driving for her own team, Katco Racing. The car was a Chevrolet. She entered two NASCAR K&N Busch Series East races, and began well, qualifying sixth at Watkins Glen. Unfortunately, she did not finish due to problems with the car’s transmission. She did manage to finish the race at Lime Rock, and was awarded 29th place, although she was several laps down.

During her last season in 1998, she drove a limited programme in the NASCAR Busch Series. She was the first woman to do so, although others had raced in other NASCAR sanctioned events. She did not qualify for the Watkins Glen race, but she just made it on to the Milwaukee grid, in 40th place. She finished in 31st place. This particular Busch Series race was no schedule-filler; Dale Earnhardt Jr won, and Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth were among the other finishers.

Kat intended to pursue NASCAR further after her first Busch event, but it was not to be. She retired from motorsport after the 1998 season, due to ill-health. For some years, she carried on working in investment and event planning, as she had done to help fund her racing. She bred Wirehaired Pointing Griffon dogs and was involved in charity fundraising.

She died in June 2016, aged 51, after a “long struggle with physical and mental health issues”, caused by Lyme Disease.

(Image copyright Sports Illustrated)