Fifteen-year-old Mini Stock driver Molly Helmuth recently clinched the title of Rookie of the Year at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe and she doesn’t even have a DOL driver’s permit. That’s because NASCAR lowered the age limit for Mini Stock competition to 14 this season.
Mini Stock racers at Evergreen Speedway drive standard production, four cylinder engine American and foreign cars. Races are normally 25 laps around a three-eighths mile asphalt track.
The youngest to win the Rookie of the Year title, Helmuth has wanted to race since she was 4 years old. “I went to Evergreen Speedway to watch my uncle, Rod Helmuth, race his car and I said, ‘I want to race like that,’” she said.
When she was 11, her uncle began to teach her how to drive a go-kart, and last year she began Mini Stock.
“At first Mini Stock was a whole new experience, especially with gear shifting,” Helmuth said. “I couldn’t find second gear. I remember crying in the car and my uncle making me put it in second gear over and over again. I have learned so much.”
Helmuth enjoys meeting new people and said that sharing a sport with her father and uncle has drawn them close together.
“It’s a good thing to do a family sport. It brings you together,” she said, adding that racing is a great experience. “I love the thrill of going 85 miles per hour.”
The Roosevelt High School student came in fifth overall for Mini Stock at Evergreen this season. The only part she doesn’t like about racing is when it rains. “The wheels have no traction and the car loops around when the track is slick,” Helmuth said. “[Other than that], the scariest part is before the race when I’m sitting in the car with butterflies in my stomach. Once I’m on the track it’s fine.”
Helmuth plans to work her way up to Super Stock racing in the next couple of years. That will entail driving eligible American-made production passenger cars, which are a faster class of cars than Mini Stock. The length of races in that division is 40 laps around the three-eighths or five-eighths mile track.
To move up in rank and achieve her goals, Helmuth is working hard to strengthen her arms and learn more about the cars. Eventually, she may even make it to the NASCAR feature division of Street Stock.
“I want to work my way up the NASCAR ladder to be one of the top females. I can’t see myself doing anything else right now. Racing is something that I love to do and I hope that I go further in life with it,” Helmuth said.
Helmuth is going to get some help on her way up that ladder this fall. She was recently invited by Indy Car driver Lyn St. James to attend Phase I of the prestigious Women in the Winner’s Circle Academy held Nov. 19–21 in Phoenix, Ariz.