Speedway Shots photo.
In the twenty-one season history of the series, there has never been a female competitor enter an NLRA event.
That will change this Thursday night, when Victoria Stutsky, driver of the No. 24 Tinkertown Victory by Moyer, will be the first female ever to compete with the series.
The 19-year-old from St. Andrews, Manitoba, is currently in her third year as a regular competitor in the Midwest Modified division.
She is also in her rookie year as a Late Model competitor at the Red River Co-Op Speedway, the three-eights mile semi-banked oval, just south of Winnipeg, the track the series visits this Thursday night.
Stutsky got her start on pavement, racing go-karts in Gimli, Manitoba, a track that has produced successful drivers like reigning Wissota Modified National Champion Ward Imrie.
Stutsky said about her time in Go-Karts, "I started in asphalt go karts at age 12 in 2012. I raced rotax junior and Briggs junior karts. I won two championships, one in rotax in 2015, and one in Briggs in 2014."
She made the leap to dirt racing a couple of years ago, and even raced with her Father Rob a few times. When asked about making the jump to dirt, she said,
Stusky competing in her Midwest Modified at the Red River Co-Op Speedway. Speedway Shots photo.
"In 2016, I jumped right into a B-Mod. We decided it was time to move on from karts, and move to something bigger and better, and dirt is always something we've considered. It was my first time ever on dirt, and I honestly had no clue what to expect."
Upon recalling her first race, Stutsky said, "My first race, I ended up with a top ten, so I guess I figured it out pretty fast. I struggled at first with the whole idea of being sideways, because in Go-Karts on asphalt, you have to be super straight and smooth, but now I love the mud and can sling my car sideways pretty good I'd say!"
Since then, she has become one of the better drivers the Midwest Modified division at the Red River Co-Op Speedway, and at the ALH Motor Speedway in Morden, Manitoba.
This season has seen her growth continue when she pilots her No. 24 Danny's Barbeque Millenium SRT, built by two-time NLRA champion, and current series point leader Dustin Strand, and his father, two-time Wissota A-Modified Champion Brian Strand. She's had some strong second place runs to Austin Hunter and Lance Schill, two drivers who are contenders for this year's Wissota National Championship.
She said about her 2018 season in the Midwest Modified, "2018 has for sure been my best year so far, with only three races outside of the top ten. My Millenium Chassis has been working really well, and I've been getting more experience on super dry tracks like Winnipeg, and super muddy tracks like Grand Forks. I had a DNF early in the year, and some other wrecks which set me back in points at [the Red River Co-op Speedway,] but I'm hoping to keep running consistently at the front, and finish top five in points. She's currently seventh in points in Winnipeg. She also hopes to get a win this season, saying, "It's so close I can physically feel it!"
At the beginning of the 2017 season, she and her Father Rob picked up their Victory by Moyer Late Model, and debuted it during the season's final weekend at the Prairie Classic at the Red River Co-Op Speedway.
"It took us forever to finally drive the late model, but I had a couple test days during the year in the late model before I actually raced it in September. I remember it having so much power that it was hard to keep it straight.," she recalled with a laugh.
"I also remember that [the Late Model] was much different to drive, a lot more smoother for sure. Everyone told me I would like it better, because it's more like a Go-Kart, and that's kind of true when it's dry. When I raced it in September, I expected to be at the back, just learning lap by lap, but I was actually quite competitive with some others and learned a lot, even though I got taken out and DNF'ed."
This season hasn't lived up to her expectations, but she has learned a lot. She said of her season thus far in the Late Model, "This year, I have to say [it] has not been as great. I have been struggling with consistency and set up, and its definitely a hand full running two cars, but we are slowly getting there."
She will likely be one of two drivers pulling double duty at the Speedway on Thursday night, as she and Paul Veert are regulars in both the Midwest Modified and Late Model divisions at the speedway. Stutsky is also the only female in the increasingly competitive Midwest Modified division in the area.
When asked about being the one that gets to make NLRA history on Thursday night, she said, "I actually had no idea that I was the first female to race with the NLRA. I think its pretty darn cool to have that honour this Thursday, and hopefully someday follow the tour. I hope I can put on a good show, and look forward to racing against the best!"
Away from the track, Stutsky is studying criminology at the University of Manitoba, but she has goals in racing she wants to accomplish, as well. "My main goal for racing in the future is to win a championship. Whether its in the Mod or the Late Model, it's a goal that I won't stop until I achieve it. I also see myself, in the near future, running only the Late Model full time, follow some NLRA shows, and visit a bunch of different tracks, and just become a really good Late Model driver."
Victoria, and the rest of the NLRA, will take to the Red River Co-op Speedway for the fifth annual Can-Am Late Model Challenge at seven on Thursday night. You can find out more about the event by visiting our Tracks page, or by logging on to redrivercoopspeedway.ca.
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