Friday, March 20, 2009
From cheerleader to Ventura Raceway
When the junior midgets take the track at Ventura Raceway on Saturday night there will be one car that stands out.
It will be a black and pink midget driven by 15-year-old Michaela Stanton. She's a sophomore at Camarillo High School, a member of the color guard and a retired competitive cheerleader, at least for the time being anyway.
She gave up her pom-poms for clutches and roll cages. She'll start in the junior midget class, but her goal is to race in the sport compact class, one of the adult divisions at the tiny seaside dirt track at the Ventura County Fairgrounds.
In a couple ways, she's on the same path as Danica Patrick, the poster girl for the IndyCar Series. Patrick was a cheerleader in high school, but her passion was always in race cars. Michaela has that same love for racing.
"I just fell in love with the sound of the cars and everything," said Michaela. "I didn’t really know much about the group I was getting into until I actually went and drove them. I fell in love instantly. I follow along with NASCAR somewhat, but I’m not really into NASCAR. I’m really into World of Outlaws and dirt racing."
Michaela has found a second home on the dirt track at Ventura Raceway.
"There’s just something about the dirt," she said. "It’s a lot more fun. In dirt there is a lot more competitiveness, because you can try to move up spots. Whereas asphalt, it takes a while before you can move up a spot or get bumped back. It’s a lot more challenging.