Thompson, CT- Please excuse these drivers, but they aren’t your average racers. TSMP will be home to four female racers in 2014; Shelly Perry, Alicia Thatcher, Alecia Parker, and Nikki Ouellette.
Parker will be returning to the track she considers home at TSMP. The Hubbardston, MA native got her feet wet at Monadnock Speedway, but is looking for a new challenge in 2014, returning to the track she grew up near. The 31 year-old got into the sport by going to the races with her parents and helping them with their car, until they stopped racing when she turned 10. Parker would then go to TSMP to watch from the stands, and knew she wanted to be behind the wheel. Parker will be competing in the Mini Stock division with her #07 Lenny Mort the Sign Guy Ford Mustang, and hopes to be victorious this year. “Everyone wants a championship, everyone wants more than one win,” explains Parker. “We’ve found a little bit more than what we wanted wrong with the car this off-season, so bare minimum, we’d like to come away with a win.”
Parker is joined by Alicia Thatcher in the Mini Stock division. Thatcher will be behind the wheel for her fifth season in the #22 Spritzer's Bar & Grill/ Perrault Construction Ford Mustang. Her father, Kevin Thatcher, was her inspiration to get into the sport, sitting in the stands every Thursday night at TSMP. The 33 year-old finally caught her break when her friend Roger Ducharme gave her the chance to sit behind the wheel for a year. Parker now has her own car, but says she’d never be able to race without her crew chief, Jeff Perrault. The Blackstone, MA driver admits she is reserved and shy, and it sometimes can be a downfall on the track, but when provoked, Thatcher says she isn’t afraid to stand her ground.
Two drivers have signed up to drive in two different classes of Modifieds in 2014. Shelly Perry joins her cousin Dennis and teammate Stan Mertz in the Sunoco Modified division, driving the #76 Ashaway Performance Engines ride. Perry has racing in her blood, as her father Butch used to race everything from Late Models to Modifieds. Perry ended last year on her roof, leading to a long off-season preparing the team’s third car for her to drive, but hopes to make it back onto the track in 2014. Driving in the Lite Modified division, Nikki Ouellette has signed up to return in the #14 F K Rod Ends automobile. The East Granby, CT driver finished 6th in the overall standings last year.
These ladies agree on two things to become a successful female driver at TSMP. First, learn from some of the veterans around the race track. Alicia Thatcher has aligned herself with some of the best in the business. “I’ve had some really great mentors that I’ve been able to pick their brains over the years, including Rick Gentes and the Tinio family,” Thatcher states. “Just being around people who have been around the sport for a long time, you can really learn a lot.” Shelly Perry was her father’s spotter during his racing years, and learned to watch drivers and study their tendencies. “It was a huge help. I watched what other drivers were doing, watching the racing line, and see how they set someone up for a pass,” answered Perry. “Try to watch as many different kinds of racing as you can. You learn something from each one.” The other bit of advice these ladies offer is to treat every driver the same. “Once you get behind the wheel, you don’t think about who’s in front of you,” Alecia Parker says. “Whether it’s a guy or a girl, you just go to have fun.”
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park kicks off the 74th season with the running of the Icebreaker April 5-6. Qualifying for the Icebreaker begins at 3:30PM on Saturday with the Granite State Pro Stock Series, and opening ceremonies commence at noon on Sunday, followed by a full slate of racing with 7 divisions in action. For more information, visit www.thompsonspeedway.com.