Stepping onto the playing field of a male dominated sport could be more than slightly intimidating for some members of the fairer sex, but for Alana Carter it is fun, challenging and definitely exciting.
Carter is a race car driver.
And she loves the sport.
“It’s so much fun. I race against my dad sometimes. Often I’m the youngest in the class and the only female. Sometimes it is scary, but really, I can’t think of anything else I would rather do.”
Carter, who lives in Fort Saskatchewan, and is a 20-year-old University of Alberta student cut her teeth on race car driving when she was only seven-years-old.
“I got in a go-cart and away I went,” she said with a laugh.
From then on it seemed quite natural for the young girl to follow in the footsteps of her father, Terry and her brother, Michael and also her uncles. Even her mom had raced when she was younger.
“It is definitely a family affair,” she said.
When Carter was about 11, she started racing on the track in Wetaskiwin in the future stock class with a Honda Accord.
“I started off slow and I was really pretty lucky. It was a very reliable car.”
She moved onto the dirt track at Central Raceways in Nisku and won her first race when she was 15.
“I was the only girl and I was quite thrilled,” she recalled.
The car she races in, a Northern Thunder Dirt late Model, has a 650 horse power engine and is totally designed for racing.
“This car scared me,’ she said, “but my dad has worked closely with me and been with me every step of the way. I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for my dad.”
In June of this year she managed to capture first place at the Western Cup Race at Castral Raceway in Nisku. The race involved racing around the track 25 laps, refueling and then going for another 25 laps.
“It was a really good race and I was very happy to win,’ she said.
When Carter gets behind the wheel of her race car and is flying down the track she says the feeling of exhilaration can’t really be topped.
But, after the race is over, reality sets in.
First of all there is the cleaning of the mud off the car itself which takes hours and, of course, each and every car that hits the race track needs to be in tip top conditions.
“It takes three hours just to wash the mud off and, of course, you have to check every bolt and screw to make sure the car is good to go.”
Carter said the support she has received has been amazing.
“It can be intimidating, but everyone including other racers are incredibly supportive.”
The vivacious young race car driver has raced in Rimbey a few times at Central Alberta Raceways and enjoys getting out on the dirt track as well as racing on asphalt.
“The dirt track is definitely more of a challenge,” she said.
Race car driving, overall, has been fun and rewarding for Carter and she has no plans to give it up.
“I’ll keep going as long as I can,” she said. “You never get perfect or comfortable in this sport, and it definitely keeps you humble, but it’s just great and I love it more every time I go out.”