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Don’t underestimate an Asian woman with mission and a passion. Verena Mei is a member of True Car Racing’s “Women Empowered” Initiative and a Rally America Driver. She’s appeared in the blockbuster movies “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” and “Rush Hour 2.” I got a chance to meet and talk with the beautiful and affable “fastest Asian-American female in the US” at the Indy Grand Prix Sonoma races this past Saturday.
How did you get into this business?
I started as a model for the automobile industry and wanted to get behind the wheel. So I put myself through stunt driving school, built my first Drift car in 2004 and spent 5 years competing in Formula Drift and transitioned into Time Attack which led me to my dream of participating in Rally Racing.
What is Rally Racing?
Rally Racing is a two person “survivor” type race where we drive through rough conditions, mud, water, snow, rain. Each race has 60-70 cars at the start and the race is about time and crossing the finish line. Each race course (and conditions) is different. It’s normally a 2-3 day race where my co driver and I spend 8-10 hours per day in the car. There can be between 11-24 stages and we are timed for each stage and the total quickest time in all stages wins. We get “Stage Notes” for each race, which is thick spiral bound book describing the conditions of the course. The only time we do a run-through of the course is the day before the race where we drive about 15-35 miles/hour and edit the Stage Notes based on our perspective. On race day, I must trust and depend on my co driver Leanne Munilla and just “go for it.” Compared to other types of races, we only “see 1, 000 corners once” so it’s very challenging.
Which championship did you just win?
In mid July, my co-driver and I won the Rally America National Championship in the “B Spec” class. This was the first time an all female American team won this race. Since this is my first year, I really want to learn to be the best driver I can be. I drive a 2011 Ford Fiesta which is a “slower” car, relatively speaking, but I believe if I can learn to drive a slow car fast, then I will be able to drive a fast car faster.
What’s it like being a women competing Rally racing?
First off, I want to thank True Car for giving me this amazing opportunity to have all the tools (a car) to compete. Perhaps an advantage for Leanne and I is that we’re lighter than other teams however if our car flips, crashes or breakdowns, we can’t call a crew to help us. It’s up to us to lift our car out of the mud or turn it over so that could be a difficult. This sport also requires mental strength however in Rally, men and women can compete on a level playing field.
Where did you grow up and where do you live now and what’s your training like?
I grew up in Pearl City, Hawaii and ethnically Chinese. I live in Littleton, New Hampshire now which is close to the best top Rally race school in the U.S. I am a pescatarean, eat well and work out a lot. When not racing, I practice on different types of tracks but spend most of my time editing Stage Notes so when it comes to race day, there’s no thinking twice when my co driver calls out a command.
What are your goals?
I want to be a positive role model, empower women, and to educate teens about car control and the importance of safe driving.
In December 2011, Verena signed with TrueCar, as one of six female race car drivers that make up the TrueCar Racing Women Empowered Initiative. 2012 is her first year in the Rally America National Championship, and has finished 5 out of 5 races, with one more to go. Verena is currently 1st in the B-Spec National Championship, and 5th in 2-wheel drive. Check out the other female speed enthusiasts: Katherine Legge and Shea Holbrook racing at Indy Grand Prix Sonoma; Ashley Freiberg, Shannon McIntosh, and Emilee Tominovich.
Leads 36 Other Drivers in Overall Rally America National Championship Standings
Santa Monica, Calif. July 18, 2012 – TrueCar Racing Driver Verena Mei finished this weekend’s Rally America National Championship event, the New England Forest Rally, in 7th Place in the hotly contested 2WD Division. Her finish was especially significant as it was the one-year anniversary of her first career rally race at the same event last year. Mei has finished five of five races this season, which is a critical factor in the physically and mentally punishing rally racing format that takes place at very high speeds on rough dirt roads, in all weather and often with low visibility.
With one event left, Mei stands at 5th place in the 2WD division, with her #335 TrueCar Fiesta the only production car in the top 5. While others in the class compete with highly modified versions of the stock car, including added horsepower, Mei’s TrueCar Fiesta carries the same 1.6L, 120 HP engine that powers the consumer version that can be purchased on http://www.truecar.com. In only her first year competing in the sport Mei is also ranked 15th overall nationally ahead of 36 other drivers.
“I am so proud to have accomplished a personal goal of finishing the New England Forest Rally, I have my amazing sponsor TrueCar and affiliate sponsors Virgin Group and Team O’Neil to thank, as well as Leanne Junnila my fantastic co-driver, my talented TrueCar Rally Crew including Martin Headland, my Team Manager, Eric Grochowski, my crew chief, and my mechanic, Keenan Farrand.” said Mei. “We are all very excited to finish strong at the Olympus Rally in Washington in September and bring home the B-Spec Championship!”
SANTA MONICA, Calif., July 11, 2012 – TrueCar Racing Driver Verena Mei will compete July 13th and 14th in the Rally America National Championship Series event The New England Forest Rally in Newry, Maine. NEFR is the 5th of 6 Rally America National Championship Events. Mei returns to the challenging logging roads of Maine on her one-year anniversary of National Championship competition in position for a strong finish.
Mei’s sponsor, TrueCar has added Virgin Group as an affiliate sponsor and the #335 TrueCar Fiesta will be adding the world renown Virgin logo on the race car as well the TrueCar Racing team uniforms and helmet at this weekends race. Richard Branson’s Virgin Group brand is recognized globally and represents the pinnacle of innovation, entertainment, lifestyle and adventure. “It is incredibly exciting to have my amazing sponsor TrueCar add an affiliate sponsor of the caliber of Virgin Group” said Mei “it says so much for TrueCar Women Empowered and frankly it’s a personally motivating and emotional experience to get behind the wheel and see the TrueCar and Virgin logos on my hood.”
Verena Mei and the #335 TrueCar Fiesta will be available for fan photos and autographs at the Sunday River Ski Resort on Friday, July 13th from 10:00 to 11:00 AM and Saturday, July 14th from 8:00 to 9:30 AM during the rally Parc Expose.
For more information about TrueCar Racing, please visit www.truecar.com/ racing. You can follow TrueCar Racing on Twitter (@TrueCarRacing) and become a fan of TrueCar Racing on Facebook.
About TrueCar Racing
TrueCar Racing was created to support top female race car drivers in premier racing series, along with young rising stars across several developmental racing series. TrueCar Racing is empowering high-potential women who aspire to become championship race car drivers by providing full sponsorship support, professional coaching and training, marketing exposure, and top-tier racing team opportunities throughout the U.S. TrueCar Racing currently sponsors women in the following race series: IndyCar, Star Mazda, USF2000, World Challenge, Mazda MX-5 Cup and Rally America.
About TrueCar, Inc.
TrueCar, Inc. is an online automotive information and communications platform focused on creating a better car buying experience for dealers and consumers. Consumers want a hassle-free car buying experience and dealers want high-quality sales velocity. TrueCar helps achieve these goals by providing unbiased market information on new car transactions and by supplying an online communications platform through which dealers and consumers can communicate with each other. TrueCar’s market-based information provides both consumers and dealers with an accurate and comprehensive understanding of what others actually paid recently for similar vehicles, both locally and nationally. TrueCar’s communications platform then allows informed, ready-to-buy consumers to communicate directly with participating dealers. Some of the nation’s largest and most well respected membership and service organizations rely on websites powered by TrueCar to help educate their members and customers who are in the automotive market. TrueCar is headquartered in Santa Monica, CA, and has offices in San Francisco, CA, and Austin, TX. After experiencing dramatic growth since 2006, TrueCar is developing a suite of products and services centered on radical clarity through the comprehensive analysis of market data and information. TrueCar’s participating dealer partners have sold over 500,000 new vehicles to TrueCar users nationwide.
This press release and the information contained herein is for noncommercial use on “as-is, as available” basis and may be used for informational purposes only. TrueCar makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in this press release and the results of the use of such information, including but not limited to implied warranty of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement. The information contained in this press release may include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Neither TrueCar nor any of its parents, subsidiaries, affiliates or respective partners, officers, or directors, employees or agents shall be held liable for any damages, whether direct, incidental, indirect, special or consequential, including without limitation lost revenues or lost profits, arising from or in connection with your use or reliance on the information presented in this press release.
TRUECAR RACING PRESS RELEASE
Mei Currently Leads Rally America’s National B-Spec Championship Continue reading
The recently unveiled “Women Empowered” initiative from TrueCar, Inc., which provides sponsorship to six female racers at various levels of North American motorsport, includes five drivers with strong ties to the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation.
IZOD IndyCar Series driver Katherine Legge, Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear driver Ashley Freiberg, Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda racer Shannon McIntosh, Pirelli World Challenge Championships driver Shea Holbrook and Rally American Series driver Verena Mei are associated with the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation established by Lyn St. James to help women achieve their goals in motorsports.
“I want to congratulate TrueCar, Inc. for creating this remarkable motorsports campaign with its sponsorship of six women racers in six different professional racing series,” said St. James, the 1992 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. “After watching so many women racers struggle to secure funding just to get in a race car, now these drivers know they have the support to run a full season with proper race teams, which is history making. Too often, women drivers are only able to secure short term deals, and generally aren’t funded well enough to have a competitive effort.”
Appropriately, the new program launched in March, which is “Women’s History Month.” McIntosh opened her 2012 season at Sebring International Raceway on March 13-17, while Legge, Holbrook and Freiberg opened their respective seasons last weekend at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. All six of the “Women Empowered” drivers, which also includes SCCA Pro Racing Playboy MX-5 Cup Series driver Emilee Tominovich, participated in a meet-and-greet and autograph session during the weekend at St. Pete.
Three of the drivers – Freiberg, McIntosh and Holbrook – are graduates of the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation’s Complete Driver Academy, which is the most comprehensive educational and training program of its kind for talented women race drivers who aspire to the professional levels of motorsports. The Academy’s two-fold purpose is to identify potential champion women drivers who have demonstrated success on the track and have a desire to pursue a career in professional motorsports; and create an experience that will provide the tools to further women drivers’ careers in motorsports as well as enhance their lives on and off the track.
“It’s ironic how things turn full circle,” said Holbrook, who claimed her first World Challenge victory last year at Long Beach. “At the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, I was talking to a group of kids about how important it is for anybody in any profession to find confidence, knowledge about the industry, have an elevator speech, and business cards! All of those things I learned at Lyn’s Women in the Winners Circle development program. Lyn’s program helped give me the foundation I have today. Without it I wouldn’t be where I am today nor would I have accomplished everything I have so far. Having passion and perseverance really does go a long way. I feel very fortunate to have Lyn as a mentor and friend.”
Freiberg, McIntosh, Holbrook, Mei and Legge have all been featured at the annual Women in the Winner’s Circle awards celebration, and Legge, Freiberg and McIntosh are featured in the organization’s traveling exhibit. St. James and Legge, who is driving the TrueCar Lotus/Dallara for Dragon Racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series, have a relationship that dates back to Legge’s earliest efforts to launch a racing career in North America.
“Lyn has been an inspiration and a role model for myself and many other young drivers both male and female,” Legge said. “She has opened many doors before us and continues to help and support the up and coming young talent in the racing arena. She was the first person I called when I came to the USA and is still the first I call when I need guidance. She is a rock star!”
McIntosh and Legge are back in action this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, while Holbrook’s next event is a tripleheader at Miller Motorsports Park on April 27-29. Mei returns to action at the Oregon Trail Rally in Portland, Ore. on May 4-6, and Freiberg’s next event is the prestigious “Night Before the 500″ at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis on May 26.
“I look forward to watching them as the season progresses,” St. James concluded. “I know they’ve worked hard and are prepared for the challenges ahead. Without having this opportunity, they know they might be watching from the sidelines, or just struggling to get on the racetrack.”
From TRUECAR RACING PRESS RELEASE:
On January 18th, Rally America announced that it was adding a B-Spec National Championship for 2012 to cater to enthusiasts seeking fun, low-cost competition vehicles. To date, B-Spec Championships have been added by the SCCA Club Racing, the World Challenge Series and by Grand-Am.
Verena Mei, in the number 335 Truecar Ford Fiesta, will be driving with Team O’Neil in the Atlanta MI Sno-Drift this weekend.
Verena Mei and her Star Girl Racing Team have signed a 2-year racing deal with TrueCar to run the Rally America National Championship in the TrueCar Ford Fiesta with Team O’Neil. Verena made her Rally America debut last season at Sno*Drift as Co-Driver for 2011 Rally America Champion Wyatt Knox. Verena’s Co-Driver this year will be Leanne Junnila of Calgary.
Verena was selected to join the TrueCar Racing “Women Empowered” initiative – an extension of the company’s efforts to help women enjoy the best possible car-buying experience. The inaugural TrueCar Racing Team also includes many of the top women racers in the U.S. competing in several professional and developmental racing series, including:
Shea Holbrook (Pirelli World Challenge)
Ashley Freiberg (Star Mazda)
Shannon McIntosh (USF2000)
Emilee Tominovich (Pro SCCA MX-5 Cup)
Katherine Legge (IndyCar)
“I’m very excited about competing in the full Rally America series this year” said Verena “TrueCar, through their Women’s Empowerment Initiative, have become a positive force and will change the way women are viewed in all areas of motorsports.” “I’m very excited to return to Atlanta again this year as a driver; Sno*Drift has a special significance as it was the first event in my Rally career and I love the challenge!”
Verena will be competing on the West coast next in Rally America’s “Oregon Trail” in Portland Oregon in April.
Read more here: http://www.rally-america.com/news/1077/