Alison Quick readies for qualifying...
Alison Quick readies for qualifying at Iowa Speedway. The Midwest racer is splitting her time between racing her Dirt Modified and running on the pavement with the ASA Late Model Series.
Alison and Jeff Quick were stalking the garages at Iowa Speedway in May, hoping for a "chance encounter" with someone like Richard Childress or Bill McAnally.
"We're just trying to meet the right people," says Jeff Quick. "We want them to know we are here."
The night before, Alison dropped out of the ASA race after a metal baffle in front of her radiator came loose and blocked the airflow.
"I shut it down before anything got damaged," she says.
"She's a savvy driver," her dad brags.
In Redding, Iowa, Quick is the guy who runs the Goodyear tire store.
"I'm just a country guy who sells tires," he says.
But on race weekends, he becomes someone else entirely.
"I'm Alison's dad," he says with a smile. "And that's not too bad."
If there were such a thing as looking like a typical racer, Alison wouldn't fit the mold.
She's barely over 5 feet tall and tips the scales at just 100 pounds. Inside the car-before she puts on her helmet-she looks like someone's kid sister trying to keep out of the way of the crew.
Belt her in and have her hit the ignition switch, and she becomes a Midwest dirt track star making the move to pavement in the ASA's Late Model Series.
The change has been both rewarding and frustrating.
In 2006, her first year in the series, Alison won a shootout race at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, becoming the first woman in the ASA's history to win a Late Model race. She finished the season seventh in ASA points.
"This year she's frustrated because she knows she can do better," says her father. "Like everything else, a lot of it is the function of money."
With the twin advantages of...
With the twin advantages of a wide track and progressive banking, Quick uses the outside line for a pass during ASA practice.
The ASA Late Model Series has emerged as a highly competitive venue, attracting sponsorship from Nextel Cup operations such as Menard's and NAPA. Cup owners watch the ASA to see who shows the talent and drive to become the next stock car racing star.
Alison is running the ASA's full Northern Division series and a few of its Challenge Division races.
"A lot of these teams are lined up with the biggest names in stock car racing," says Jeff Quick, looking at the transporters parked on either side of his daughter's car. "They have big engine programs and spend time in wind tunnels. We've got a pretty good crew to work with, but we don't have that kind of budget."
Alison races a car owned and prepared by Lorz Motorsports. It is a rent-a-ride. She shows up at the track, works with the crew to get the car tuned to her needs, and races.
"The big problem is communication," she says. "I know what I need the car to do, but I'm not always able to communicate it to the crew."
Her father figures the problem exists because his daughter is more timid than most male drivers.
"She's a big team player," he says. "She'll do whatever the crew chief or coach asks of her, but she's not comfortable yet asserting herself. I think that will come as she gets more accustomed to the car."
Unlike children born into racing families, Alison's father didn't race.
"I really wanted to race motocross, but my folks figured karts were safer," she says. "So it's all kind of their fault."
Jeff says his daughter's interest began when Goodyear sent him and his wife to Indianapolis as a reward for their success in the tire business, and young Alison watched the race to see if she could spot her parents.
Without her helmet, the 20-year-old...
Without her helmet, the 20-year-old could easily pass for someone much younger. Her youthful good looks could be an asset in trying to market her driving talent.
"It was one of the races where Lyn St. James was the only woman in the field," he says. "She wanted to know why that was, and figured it wasn't right."
They put Alison into a kart at age 9. She progressed through Mini Cup and 600 Racing to Dirt Modifieds. In between, she was a high school athlete who lettered in four sports and was on a softball team that went to the national finals.
She says it's a bit of a challenge moving from dirt to pavement and then back again.
"I sometimes wish I could get the rearend to slide around like my dirt car," she says. "I guess that's part of learning to adapt my driving style."
"I really wish I could work on the car," she says. "I do all the mechanical work on my dirt car. I understand the dynamics of racing. I just don't always understand what needs to be done to a car for racing on pavement.
"I think if I could spend some time in the shop with the guys prepping the car, I could learn much faster. The other thing I need is seat time. I can run well, but I need to be putting together some Top 10 and Top 5 finishes to get noticed."
At 20 years old, time is on her side. And she knows that.
She wants to drive professionally and has her eyes on moving to a Busch or Craftsman Truck team.
"I think racing has gone beyond the point where women aren't accepted," she says. "And from a marketing standpoint, there is probably an advantage to being a woman, just because there aren't many of us in the sport and we stand out. That may help me move to the next step.
"I don't know where I'll be next year or the year after," Alison says. "I do know it would be a mistake to move too quickly, to go to another series before the time is right.
"But if someone like Richard Childress called, I guess the time would be right."