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Theriault ready to claim place in racing world

Published Mar 10th 2008, 9:36pm by Jody DeVere in Featured Articles

Mtheriault Michelle Theriault grew up with her and her father, David, watching family friends race Quarter Midgets at local race tracks in Connecticut. When Michelle was five, she saw a race car for sale and asked to sit in it. The moment she hoped in, the race car driver from within emerged.

She turned to her Dad and said, "I want this."

Theriault competed in Quarter Midge, and earned 200 wins. She is the five time runner- up in the Quarter Midgets of America National Championship.

In 1999, her family relocated to Georgia, where she graduated from Quarter Midgets to Legends Cars. She won Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thunder Racing Legends Championship, and earned the distinction of becoming the first female Legends Car Champion. She backed up her success with two more championships and more than 20 wins.

After three years in Legends cars, Theriault moved up to the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series, Pro-Late Model Division. In 2003, Theriault completed a full season in Late Model competition driving the No. 14 LesCare Kitchens/Nergy Fitness Drink entry. She finished 20 of 20 events, sixth in the series point championship and runner up in the Rookie of the Year battle.

She also competed in the Hooters ProCup Series before moving up to the ARCA/ReMax Series.

"My theory is," explains Theriault, "When the helmet goes on we're all equal. It doesn't matter whether you're a boy or a girl, 13 years old or 30. I'm a race car driver and that's it.”

How do you feel about your chances racing in ARCA this year after your test at Daytona?

I am working very hard to secure sponsorship for the 2008 season. In going to the Daytona test, it showed that I haven't given up on my racing career. I'm on a mission to align myself with quality people to have an even more successful season in 2008. Did I leave the test and get a hundred phone calls? No, but it did spark some new interest in me and gave me the opportunity to meet with a few very reputable teams.

Michelle_2 Are you running a full or select ARCA schedule?

Right now my options are open. Until I secure funding, I can not say what series I will be competing in this season. I would love to compete in both ARCA as well as in a NASCAR Touring Series. I’m even looking at running a few Craftsman Truck races if the right opportunity presents itself.

Do you feel like there is more opportunity in the ARCA series for women then there is in any of NASCAR's senior series (Nationwide, Truck, Cup)?

The ARCA series across the board is a great training ground for anyone. It is more cost effective in the ARCA series, and that's one of the reasons you see a more diverse group of drivers. It’s so hard to find sponsorship today, even if you are an established driver. Funding, or lack of, is one of the biggest reasons why females haven't been more successful in NASCAR's top series. Also, it's difficult to align with an organization that believes in a female. You need the whole package to be successful at this level - sponsorship and a supportive team .

How did you get into racing?

Growing up, a close friend of the family raced quarter midgets and I started going to the track. I immediately loved it. I was 5 years old when I spotted a car for sale and begged my Dad to buy it. I don’t come from a racing family so this was a first for us. After discussing with my mother, they bought it. Since the age of 5, I haven't missed a single racing season, Hopefully that continues in 2008.

What is your biggest racing accomplishment so far?

Gaining the respect of my competitors. I've won races and championships, and will always be proud of that, but even when I did that I didn’t feel I had as much respect as I do today. The 2007 season showed that with equipment equal to theirs, I can race with the best of them and I earned their respect. I'm very proud of that.

What is your ultimate racing goal/dream?

As cliché as it sounds, my dream is race competitively in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. I want to be successful woman and give other women the confidence to follow their dream .

Who is your hero?

My father. If it wasn’t for his desire to help me succeed, I wouldn’t be where I am at today. Since I started racing, we always raced as a family. If I raced in Colorado, our whole family would drive in a van to go to Colorado. If we went to Florida to race on Thanksgiving weekend, out extended family would even drive down as well so we could all be together for Thanksgiving. All my memories of racing have my family in them as well, and even as I get older and live on my own now, those are the memories I will cherish forever

Lindapic_noman2 by Linda Przygodski
Contributing Editor

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