By Jason D Searcy www.speedtalkon1360.com
Race cars can be loud, mean and intimidating, but drivers do not need to be any of those things.
Molly Rhoads started racing thirteen years ago while in High School along with her brother AJ and twin sister Megan. The summer after graduation, she realized how much she loved the sport, everything about it, and wanted to do it for as long as possible. She raced at the I-94 Raceway tracks in Sauk Centre and Fergus Falls (MN), that is where she won her first race in the Super Stock and Thunder Car divisions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3E4KqLEnSqE (she is #97)
"Racing at I-94 opened my eyes to the real family that is involved with racing," said Molly "everyone that was there, from the other drivers to the employees and even the fans, were literally the best people I had ever met in my life."
Soft spoken Molly Rhoads was a crowd favorite at I-94, as the track announcer I would help arrange driver autograph sessions during intermission. Because of the incredibly long lines waiting for Molly's signature, we would have to put her on a separate table from the other guys just to even out the crowd.
She was also very popular in the pits with her fellow racers. "There was many nights that I showed up there without a crew and different drivers and their crew members would help me unload my car and spot for me. If I ever had any problems there were always hands on deck to help me get fixed back up and ready to race, that is why I always looked forward to going there" said Rhoads.
Molly eventually moved up to the premier Super Late Model division in 2004 competing with some of the best drivers in the Midwest, she became the first female driver to win a Late Model race at Raceway Park in Shakopee (MN). She was then accepted into the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program two times where she was given instruction and tutoring from some of the top teams in NASCAR.
"Janet Guthrie and Lyn St James are very inspirational women that I have looked up to throughout my racing career." Molly also looks up to NASCAR hot-topic Danica Patrick, "she has spent here entire life working toward making her dream of being a professional race car driver come true. She has paid her dues and has been successful throughout her career." said Rhoads "She also is using every one of her assets to make the doors open for her and has helped get female racers noticed throughout the world."
Following her love for Racing has not been easy, it has been challenging in this economy to find enough funds to continue updating her cars and motors. When she had to take some time off from driving Molly worked in the pits as crew chief for Bryan Roach who was driving local Super Late Model races and in the ASA Midwest tour. Her popularity in the pits was rewarded with the Craftsman "Mechanic of the year" award at Raceway Park in 2009. Molly has jumped around the last couple years racing at Raceway Park (MN) and Dells Raceway Park (WI).
This year Molly was accepted into Race4Girls.com. Its a national program that promotes successful female racers and helps them improve their race team. Molly says "www.race4girls.com is a great idea, Tracey Passantino is devoting her life to helping me and other female racers. You can donate as little as $5 and ALL of the money (minus the paypal fees) goes to the driver. It is so easy to show some support and if even a handful of people you know donate $5, it will help me and other successful female drivers a ton."
Molly Rhoads is not the typical race car driver, here in Minnesota or anywhere else, but I think everyone is OK with that.
Molly plans on racing the full 2012 season in a Super Late Model at Elko (MN) Speedway and enter both ASA Midwest tour events in Minnesota. "Some of the best drivers have come out of Elko Speedway," said Rhoads "I am super excited to race with them every week and gain as much experience as I can."
To get more information on Molly Rhoads racing go to www.rhoadsracing.com or www.race4girls.com