By: Ashley McCubbin
After getting her feet wet with a couple starts last season, Mandy Chick will return to the ARCA Menards Series in 2023 for several races, thanks to sponsorship from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. The Kansas native recently shared her thoughts on the upcoming season, school and more with NEWS FROM THE PITS.
What are your thoughts heading into the upcoming ARCA Menards Series season?
I am really excited. Today, we’re prepping the Daytona (International Speedway) car and our team has been working really hard the past few months to be ready for this season. We learned a lot in our two races in the ARCA Menards Series in the last year. We’re really excited to pull that forward into 2023 and gain some momentum. It sounds like we have several good races on the schedule for us that get us good experience at different tracks. I think for us, we’re looking to learn and be competitive.
I was just going to ask. What are your goals for the upcoming season?
I think for us the big thing is consistency since we’re relatively new and learning a lot, but know we can be competitive. So several top-10 finishes would be really great for us in the first several races, and just building forward, having good qualifying runs and really been a top contender towards the end of the year.
Obviously you mentioned Daytona is on the schedule. But looking at the races that you will get to run, which track are you most excited to get to?
So you’re right, we’re going to Daytona and we’re excited about that as there’s a lot of history and most of the best racecar drivers have been to Daytona and raced there. So I’m absolutely excited to go there – but it’s a tie to me between Daytona and going back to Bristol. I raced Bristol (Motor Speedway) in an asphalt Pro Late Model and it’s a cool track – very short oval, high banked, fast – I tend to like the high banked tracks. So it sounds like we have about a dozen races on our schedule right now, and hopefully we can put the pieces together to run the full season.
You got to run a couple races last season. What was the biggest takeaway you had from running those events?
I mean, for us, again, it’s learning a lot. These are different cars than we’ve worked with before. My dad used to own a (NASCAR Craftsman) Truck Series team so there are some similarities, but technology has changed a lot since then as well. But just getting used to the cars, seeing what a normal ARCA Racing weekend looks like. We got to race at IRP – Lucas Oil (Raceway Park) in July, and Milwaukee in August. Those were two different race tracks that were good for us to get under our belt. Milwaukee is the largest track that I’ve ever been too so really expanding that pool of experience for me and getting to race at larger tracks, and building on that confidence.
Why did you want to get behind the wheel yourself?
Well, for me, I’m a third generation racer. My dad and my grandpa raced before I did. My grandpa raced his own cars, and went racing with friends. My dad actually drove himself, and the two of them owned a Truck team from 2001 to 2005. So I’ve grown up around that. I’ve been around racing my whole life, and I guess you could say I caught the racing bug and loved it ever since.
I’ve raced since I was six years old. I raced quarter midgets from age six till I was about 12. When I was 12, I raced dirt modifieds for a couple of years. At 13, I started racing asphalt Pro Late Models, specially approved for the NASCAR Home Track Series. I have been racing Pro Late Models since until 2022 when we got into ARCA. So for me, I love the racing. It’s something that I’ve enjoyed learning about and doing, and the application of it, and working on my cars alongside my team. Then it also sparks my interest in getting mechanical experience in getting a career in the field as well.
That’s where Rose-Hulman (Institute of Technology) comes in – just put a deal together with them to race several races this year and they’re going to support me on the racing side, as well.
I got to say, it’s got to be neat for you going to the school, but then also having their support for you as a sponsor.
It’s really cool because Rose-Hulman has a long standing history in racing. The Hulman family used to own Indianapolis Motor Speedway for several years, so that was one of the things that sparked my interest when I first toured at Rose-Hulman, and I loved the community feeling. So it’s really cool to me that my racing career, my academic career, and my professional engineering career are colliding and I’m really excited about that. I’ve had a lot of passion involved in the industry.
You’ve gotten to drive a variety of vehicles, given your racing history you shared. What has been your most memorable racing moment?
Oh, that’s a good one. I think for me….. So I mentioned that I raced at Bristol in asphalt pro late models a couple years ago. So I got to the opportunity to go there and race side-by-side many laps with Mike Skinner, who of course is very successful in the racing industry. I think that’s such a cool experience because I got to race side-by-side and learn a lot with him and really enjoy racing clean, but hard and competitively with him. And of course, I love Bristol as well.
So I think that’s one of my most memorable moments – I was kind of star struck racing against Mike Skinner, but it was cool that we could race side-by-side for many laps.
We’re seeing other young ladies like yourself get involved in the sport, and there’s a lot of young girls looking up to you right now. How cool is that for you to have?
I think that means a lot to me. I grew up knowing that I was in a male-dominated industry, but one thing I’ve always said since I was little was as soon as we put our helmets on, we’re all racers. That’s what I try to draw back to when I am still in a male-dominated field in that we’re all still racers, all out there to try and win the same race, and trying to be competitive with each other. That’s really important to draw back to so you know everybody has the same opportunity to win, as long as you work hard enough.
So that’s exactly what I would give advice to younger females in the industry is just try to remember we’re all racers, we all have the same opportunity to win a race.