It isn’t often a race car driver’s helmet comes off and the hair underneath drapes past the shoulders.
In what’s traditionally been known as a man’s sport, late model driver Mandy Chick says people “kind of have a double-take reaction” when they see her. At 15 years old, Chick competes with the guys — some of whom have many more years behind them than she does — but it doesn’t bother her.
“Once I put that helmet on, I am just like the other guys,” Chick said. “I am a race car driver and we don’t take that into consideration on the race track.
“‘Oh, that’s a girl. I’m going to take it easy on her.’ They don’t say that. They treat me just like one of the other guys because we’re all race car drivers out there when we put our helmets on.”
For Chick, it’s been that way since around the time she could walk. She’s been behind the wheel for nine years as a third-generation racer in her family, with her father and grandfather both being involved in motorsports since their youth and building a team in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series together.
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As long as Chick can remember, she was “constantly at the race track with the team.”
“We have a picture of me from when I was 2 years old sitting in one of their NASCAR trucks,” Chick said. “Ever since I was really little, I have been around race cars. I just grew up in that environment.”
The family sold the truck team, Team Chick Motorsports, in the early 2000s to fund Chick’s career. She started out in a quarter midget as many young racers do, moved into dirt modifieds and eventually asphalt late models.
Most of Chick’s years behind the wheel have been in quarter midgets rather than a touring series, but she feels like her career in general has “gone really well” thus far. The trophy case would say so, too. Last year, Chick received the NASCAR Missouri State Rookie of the Year title.
But that doesn’t mean she was satisfied with how the season went.
“I was in position to win a number of different races (last) year and I probably should have,” Chick said. “But I learned valuable lessons from each of those situations and I know that the first late model win is coming soon. We have a great year ahead.”
When a win does come, Chick knows she will have played a “major role” in bringing the trophy home — by doing more than just the driving. With her team still owned by her parents, Chick says she does a lot of the work on the car.
“I feel like a huge part of being a race car driver is knowing your race car,” she said. “The ins and outs of it, how to work on it and how everything is set up on the car, how it acts on the race track, and if you make a certain change, how it will affect the race car.”
Chick says doing that work helps not only during the good times on track, but during the less fortunate race weekends as well.