We spend so much time reading and writing about who is at the front of the field and who is striving for the top 35 that we often overlook who is coming up in the scene and who the next “Star” may just be.Ã‚Â There are not a lot of articles to be found about Jimmie Johnson as he rose through the ranks in racing dirt bikes, his short stint in Nationwide or anything really from before 2006 when he started winning big in the Sprint Cup series.Ã‚Â So I have taken it upon myself to find some new faces, some new blood, and have a look at who is coming up in the lower tiers, and who is coming up ready to be the next wave as we change the guard in NASCAR.Ã‚Â They may not make the series next season but mark my words, the series of articles to follow will extol the virtues and the on track skill of those who wish to rise to fame in NASCAR’sÃ‚Â biggest series.Ã‚Â So lets have a look at the first in a 5 week series of who we should be keeping our eyes on in the seasons to come.
Sloan Henderson is a young lady from Dayton Ohio.Ã‚Â At the age of 18 she has already caught my eye with the results she has shown and the remarkable poise of a champion in the making.Ã‚Â And if I may say so myself she has the looks that will make marketing geniuses drool over the possibilities.Ã‚Â I have heard others compare her to Danica Patrick but from what I have seen so far she will surpass Danica in the wins department with her driving skill and will win over the hearts of fans with her elegance and poise that are well beyond her years. When asked how she feels about the comparison between herself and Danica her answer is carefully thought out.
If NASCAR is wanting people to be in the spotlight in their drive for diversity, this young lady should be front and center in my humble opinion. I asked Sloan how she felt the NASCAR Drive For Diversity team was doing so far.Ã‚Â She responded that “I think its wonderful that NASCAR is trying to get more diversity in NASCAR, but on the other hand they are a young team still so its hard to say if what they are doing will work out. I wish them luck though.”
She is strong in her faith as a Christian and is not afraid or ashamed to let the world know.Ã‚Â In a quote from her Driver Website she states:
“NASCAR is not ashamed of the Gospel and supports corporate prayer before every race and so do I.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â In fact, my father and I pray before every race and most practices. This doesn’t mean we are perfect. It means we know what direction we are all heading toward. You may see us get mad at times and even do something we shouldn’t. But after we cool off and the cameras stop rolling, we will ask for forgiveness. Whether the person we’ve wronged forgives us is up to them.
We believe God is into racing. Whether you are a Creationist, Intellectual Design Theorist or you can fathom the Big Bang Theory, the fact remains that there are millions of objects in the solar system rotating around in a circle, or track, if you like. Life is not static but moving, just like cars on a race track.”
When asked directly what she would like her message to the racing world to be about who she is and where she is headed in the racing world this ideal continues to shine through. “I would really like to be a role model to younger girls and help share God’s word to people.”
Sloan has also given herself a head start with the Charity work we often see the drivers in the racing world get behind.Ã‚Â She list her top 3 charities as the Make a Wish, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and Lyn St. James Foundation.Ã‚Â “There are many great charities out there that help a lot of people, but I chose these because they are dear to my heart” she says in a quote from her website “By supporting me it will help allow me to do things for these charities that require time and money with helping them raise funds”
Sloan first caught my eye while driving in the NASCAR Whelan Series in Ohio.Ã‚Â In a single season she managed Ã¯Â»Â¿to become the highest ranked female driver in the Nation.Ã‚Â Sloan became the First female to set a fast time, win a heat race,Ã‚Â get four podium finishes,Ã‚Â six top five and eighteen top ten finishes while earning respect of most competitors by doing it with NO mirrors or radio.Ã‚Â Out there on your own with no spotter assisting you is a feat of bravery in itself, but to place so well in the face of this adversity is a true testament to her drive to succeed.Ã‚Â Racing is well known for being a male dominated sport where the “boys” don’t often give the female drivers a fair shake but Sloan takes this all in stride.Ã‚Â “I do sometimes, but I feel it has made me a better racecar driver because I have something I to prove.Ã‚Â That women can win.”
Her 2010 highlights were memorable as well when on September 4th she broke the track record for the second time at Columbus Motor Speedway and on August 6th she took the win at Kil-Kare-Robbie Dean Memorial 94 Lap race.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â She also set the track speed record at Kil Kare and was the first female driver to ever do so.Ã‚Â A season with 2 wins, 20 top 5’s and 25 top tens is one that most drivers can only dream about.Ã‚Â “To be honest, I was really excited about getting the tracks records but I was more focused on the upcoming race. I feel very honored to be able to have those two track records my crews amazing!”
Add to that the success from lower tiered series since 2004 when she took the win at the Quarter Midgets Eastern GrandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s- in her 4th race ever!Ã‚Â This young lady is definitely one to watch.
Next weeks article will focus on some of the Canadian talent working their way into the big leagues of the Stock Car world.Ã‚Â J.R Fitzpatrick and Andrew Ranger are making waves and making noise (especially when they race against each other) so I will try to find out their feeling on the rivalry and what it takes as they move up in the ranks and try to secure rides in the top tiers of their sport.