By: Cole Cusumano
Photo Courtesy of ENEOS Motor Oil
AVONDALE, Ariz. — Bill McAnally Racing has been one of the most progressive race teams across motorsports in terms of female driver exposure and development. Prior to the K&N Pro Series and ARCA Menards Series merger implemented for 2020, the Toyota Racing team fielded two female drivers in Hailie Deegan and Brittney Zamora.
Deegan has since moved on to race for DGR-Crosley in the developmental series and Zamora has vacated her seat from the No. 99 Camry. Filling her spot is 18-year-old Late Model racer, Gracie Trotter.
Before joining the ARCA Series, the young driver only ran five CARS Super Late Model Tour races in the last three years. In that time she earned three top-10 finishes, but explains that the transitions that she’s had to make throughout her career have been challenging.
“I started out in road course go karts and then I moved to a bandolero car and a legend car – that wasn’t such a big transition,” Trotter shared with POPULAR SPEED. “When I moved from a Legend car to a Super Late Model, that was a huge difference; a lot more power, bigger body, bigger car, heavier – that took me a while to transition, but I had some really good people behind me.”
The 18-year-old now shifts gears to the Grand Canyon State and seeks to carry momentum to Phoenix Raceway. This will be Trotter’s debut racing on a speedway that the NASCAR Cup Series competes on. Not only that, but it will be the largest track she’s competed on in her career.
“It’s my first time on a mile track, so I’ve been feeling it out, but the car feels pretty good,” Trotter revealed. “The car is a little tight but we worked on that a lot in practice.”
She started off strong in the General Tire 150, though ultimately made contact with the wall resulting in a 22nd-place finish.
The driver of the No. 99 showed promise earlier in the day as she was 15th fastest on the speed charts in the only practice session of the day and felt that she learned quite a bit in her limited seat time.
“I’m very grateful to be given this opportunity to race Super Late Models with Toyota Racing and the ARCA Series with Bill McAnally,” Trotter concluded.
Prior to this weekend, Trotter had run a race in both the series’ East and West sanctions this season and the results have been mixed. In her first event, she placed 16th at New Smyrna Speedway. She then rebounded after heading out West and finished fourth at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
While she may not have the most experience of all her competitors at the one-mile track, Trotter is piloting equipment from a championship caliber team. Bill McAnally Racing locked up the K&N Series Championship last year with NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series rookie Derek Kraus at this very track.
While the cars are sure to be vastly different from last season, Trotter should have all the necessary backing she needs to perform well in the General Tire 150 from Phoenix Raceway.