There were no Monday morning blues this week for Molly Helmuth.
Just days after wrapping up her Rookie of the Year season in the Foster Press Mini-Stock division of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash., the 15-year-old racer from Seattle was invited by legendary IndyCar driver Lyn St. James to attend Phase I of the prestigious Women in the Winner’s Circle Academy this Nov. 19-21 in Phoenix.
Established in 1994 as an extension of James’ Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation, the Academy has been attended by more than 230 women from around the country including current IndyCar and NASCAR star Danica Patrick, NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car driver Melanie Troxel and Natalie Sather, the 2009 Rookie of the Year in the Super Late Model division at Evergreen Speedway.
Covering an entire year including three invitation-only on-site sessions, the complete driver academy “is the most comprehensive educational and training program of its kind for talented women race drivers who aspire to the professional levels of motorsports” according to James’ website (www.lynstjames.com). On-site sessions are designed to help participants improve their physical and mental preparedness (Phase I), their understanding of business and media affairs (Phase II), and their technical skills while driving various racing vehicles (Phase III). Drivers are expected to use the tools gained in on-site sessions to complete outside assignments.
In 1992 James became the first woman to win Rookie of the Year honors at the Indianapolis 500, the first of seven starts she made in that prestigious race. She has also driven in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and twice won the 24 Hours of Daytona. She was named one of the “Top-100 Women Athletes of the Century”by Sports Illustrated for Women and one of “The 350 Women Who Changed the World Between 1976-1996” by Working Woman. She served as president of the Women’s Sports Foundation from 1990-93, and founded the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation in 1994.
Helmuth began racing karts in 2006 and has competed in the Northwest Rotax Series throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada. When NASCAR lowered the age limit to 14 for the 2010 season, she entered the Mini-Stock division with a front-wheel drive Volkswagen Corrado. Racing against drivers twice her age, Helmuth became a fan favorite by bumping, passing, spinning out and crashing as she learned how to handle and race her car.
The youngest driver to ever win Rookie of the Year honors in the Mini-Stock division at Evergreen Speedway, Helmuth finished the 2010 season No. 5 (of 31) in the series standings. She also won a trophy dash in August at Idaho’s Stateline Stadium Speedway while racing with the Northwest Outlaws Series.
In addition to participating in Phase I of the Women in the Winner’s Circle Academy — and hoping to get invited back for Phases II and III — Helmuth will continue racing karts and is planning on driving a rear-wheel drive Ford Mustang in Evergreen Speedway’s Mini-Stock division next season.
On the Web
For more information on Molly Helmuth and her racing, visit www.mollyhelmuth.com, become a fan of “Molly Helmuth Racing” on Facebook, follow @Molly_helmuth92 on Twitter, or visit her YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/rotaxjr92#p/u.