Rochester woman breaking new ground in open-wheel racing

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SPRING VALLEY, Minn. (KTTC) – The US Modified Touring Series is the most popular and fastest growing open-wheel dirt racing series in the country.

Saturday night, southern Minnesota’s only woman competing in the top division of racing faced off against some of the best drivers in the nation at Deer Creek Speedway’s Labor Day Duel.

Tammy Clark has been racing open-wheel modified cars for six years, three of those in the highest tier.

“It’s kind of exhilarating, scary, fun, fast,” said Clark. “It’s an adrenaline rush.”

She has had up and down moments out on the track.

“Scary was I rolled a car. Landed upside down on top of another car,” remembers Clark. “Most exciting was probably winning a heat race at Chateau in a modified which I never thought I’d do with the competition around here.”

While there is a lot of strategy involved in open-wheel racing, overthinking is mistake many drivers make.

“Honestly when I get her not thinking so much and just go out there and have a good time,” said crew chief Bill Steinberg. “Not being scared of tearing stuff up and go with the flow, it makes a better driver.”

Just as important as performance on race day are the hours of preparation put into the car during the week.

“Races, success, winning all that kind of stuff happens in the shop,” Steinberg said. “You can have the best equipment in the world but if you have four flat tires, you’re not going to do so well. I mean there’s a lot that goes into it that most people have no clue.”

“You put together a whole week’s worth of work for maybe eight minutes of driving,” said Clark.

And the driving can get very competitive.

“A lit bit of banging and stuff in the corners. Every now and then you’ll bounce off the wall,” Clark said. “We haven’t had too many wrecks this year, we’ve been pretty fortunate. We try to race pretty clean and finish. That’s usually the goal.”

With so many talented drivers on hand, Clark’s goal for the Labor Day Duel is to qualify for the main event. She also encourages other females interested in racing to get involved.

“To all the young ladies that are looking to get into it, there’s a few other drivers in a couple other divisions out at Deer Creek,” said Clark. “It’s always fun to see women get involved and challenge the men is what I would say. Go for it. You gotta try it.”

After this weekend’s big event, Clark hopes to participate in one more race before the end of the season.

She is also working on a new car she hopes to debut next year.

Alex Tejada

Alex Tejada

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