Today we're dippin' into the USAC pool where Shannon McIntosh of Miamisburg, Ohio, has been working the Ford Focus Midgets since 2005.
The diminutive, 20-year-old racer with "“NinTai” tattooed on her right foot (see below) has been racing since age 5 when she started in quarter midgets. Since then Shannon has racked up 100 career wins in various levels since then.
Shannon came to the pdog's attention via Twitter, where she's @Shannon_Mac, Facebook and her site, shannonmcintosh.com. Check it out below for a bit more on Shannon's career, what's next, the road to Indy from USAC (or not) and of course, the special holiday schwerve.
pressdog: How did you get interested in racing?
Shannon: Unlike a lot of drivers…there is no racing history in my family. My dad was a race fan and used to watch USAC’s Thursday Night Thunder. There was a local Quarter Midget race when I was 4 in Xenia, Ohio, so my dad, mom and I went to check it out. I love the story they tell about how they couldn’t find me anywhere and after searching all over the place, they found me all alone in the stands watching the races. I distinctly remember sitting in a car for my first time that day. I asked my dad if I could race and you know he couldn’t say no! It was history after that.
pressdog: You live about 2 1/2 hours from Indy. Do you go to the 500? What's your favorite part of the race/event?
Shannon: I have been to a handful of Indy 500’s. What I love and am amazed by about the event, is the prestige and history. As a driver, it’s not always fun to go to the racetrack to watch but attending and experiencing the atmosphere of the 500 at IMS is surreal. It is extremely motivating to envision myself winning The Indianapolis 500 while standing inside the speedway.
pressdog: Describe your racing style.
Shannon: Over the years, a few people have actually gone up to my dad after realizing I was a girl and said “she drives like a boy” So my dad has always said “She looks and acts like a girl, but drives like a boy..” Kind of strange but I guess in this sport I take it as a compliment. I’m quick, aggressive, and not afraid to hold my line. I’m at the track to win, and it shows on the track.
pressdog: It appears that your career slowed a bit recently. Discouraged? What's up with that?
Shannon: I come from an EXTREMELY supportive middle-working family who are truly the backbone of my career. However, 2006 in the USAC Focus Midget series was somewhat the last string we could pull as a (mostly) family-funded program.
Between 2006 and now, there has been much discouragement and many stories I could go on and on about to explain the let downs and false hopes. However, I truly am thankful for the struggles in my career because it has made me a much stronger individual. I’m very tenacious and decided that I was going to have a successful racing career whether I already have money in my back pocket or not.
pressdog: I saw in another Q&A you prefer dirt over asphalt. Why is that?
Shannon: After Quarter Midgets, I spent four years racing dirt in Micro and Mini Sprints (age 11-15) at places such as Lawrenceburg Speedway and large (short)tracks up to 3/8 mi. During this time period, I learned so much about driving a race car and car control. Learning to feel what your car is doing is essential and I think dirt racing teaches experience that you can’t gain anywhere else. Some of the best drivers have come from dirt racing, especially Midgets and Sprint Cars.
pressdog: Do you see yourself in IndyCar someday, or NASCAR, or either or?
Shannon: I used to have a very specific and narrow “roadmap” of how my career was going to be laid out. However, when opportunities weren’t abundant I tested and raced cars that never crossed my mind (including Dirt Late Models). I have since then realized that first and foremost I am a driver and love to race and secondly that my goal is to race competitively and win in one of the highest forms of professional motorsports…whether it be IndyCar or NASCAR.
pressdog: What are some of the roadblocks, aside from finding sponsor cash, preventing USAC drivers from getting into IndyCar, or is sponsor cash the main one.
Shannon: The lack of exposure that USAC gets outside of the racing community is a huge burden. I think of USAC as the X-Games of motorsports and have also heard Sprint and Midget drivers called the “bull riders of the sport”. In my opinion, if USAC was put in front of the face of young people…and even the race enthusiasts who are “grass roots racing-uneducated”, we’d be able to bring more viewers, sponsors, and recognition to the series to pose a suggestion for partnering with a driver earlier in their careers. Bring back LIVE USAC racing!
pressdog: Do you do road courses?
Shannon: The first time I ever set foot on a road course, was at the Bondurant School in Phoenix when I attended the Lyn St. James Driver Development program in 2006.
Never had I sat in a go-kart or driven on a road course and we got the opportunity to race tag-karts. I ended up the fastest qualifier (amongst many of whom had all road racing backgrounds), won my heat race and after starting from the tail of the feature, finished second… I’d LOVE to do road courses but other than that …I haven’t gotten the opportunity.
pressdog: I notice you're all over the Twitter and Facebook. Has that helped round up fans?
Shannon: I sometimes wonder what I’d do without the internet and social media. This tactic has been huge in generating exposure and connecting with fans from all over the world! I love it because I have met so many people and developed relationships with fans who have never even seen me race and are hoping to see me on the track!
Actually, my Twitter isn’t as frequented as my Facebook and am thinking about changing my Twame to something that includes my real name, and switching it all over… bad idea?
pressdog: What's your day job when not racing? Trying to find sponsors or do you have another job to pay the bills?
Shannon: I do it all! Actually, I’m a nanny three days a week and also have a great clientele of families who I do babysitting jobs for in my area.
I am usually babysitting, e-mailing, Tweeting, Facebooking and making phone calls while cleaning up diapers (fun) and cooking meals all AT THE SAME TIME! Haha! It gets hectic sometimes, but I love it and it has taught me to multi task incredibly.
pressdog: What, if anything, have you learned from the careers of other female drivers like Sarah Fisher and Danica Patrick?
However, one of my greatest mentors is Lyn St James. I’ve been lucky to have her as a supporter of my career and actually won the Kara Hendrick Memorial Scholarship Award when I attended the Driver Development program in 2006.
I have learned that being a female in a male dominated sport, especially not coming from money, you’ve got to be smart and tactful in planning your career. Sarah is not only a figure to look up to as a racecar driver but as an individual who has overcome much and worked very hard to get where she is. She is a true testament to hard work and perseverance which is a term that I live by.
pressdog: What's the outlook for 2010?
Shannon: In September, I tested with Cunningham Juniors, a USAC National Midget Penske Development team. The test went extremely well and they’ve proposed to me a 20 race schedule with the USAC National Midget series. Right now I’m flat out working on partnerships and hoping to pull something together. I’ve got a lot of very credible people on my side and I’m very thankful for all of the support I’ve been given.
Unfortunately, it’s too soon to say what we’ll be racing.
pressdog: What's tattooed/written on your right foot?
Shannon: “NinTai” There is a lot of deep meaning to this and why I got it.
I am actually ¼ Japanese and it is a Japanese term that I’ve lived by for a long time. It embodies perseverance, tenacity, steadfastness and basically sticking to something without backing down. I got it at a time in my career when I felt I was being tried on how bad I want to race…and it’s on my right foot because, well…the obvious!
pressdog: Bestest Christmas present ever:
Shannon: I am not sure why this pops in my mind but I remember getting this sweet arcade thing when I was about ohhh let’s say eight. It had this super cool pin ball machine, ski ball, and basketball all in one, you just changed things around to play different games. I’m weird :)
pressdog: What do you like about Christmas in Ohio? Dislike?
Shannon: Even though I complain about the cold all the time, I don’t think it would seem like Christmas if it weren’t cold. There is nothing better than a white Christmas… staying inside and relaxing all day with family. I have no dislikes about Christmas in Ohio.
pressdog: What are your favorite memories of Christmas as a child?
Shannon: On Christmas morning, my little sister and I would always wake up our parents and then they’d go down stairs and get their camera and coffee ready (now that’s what I have to do). We’d have to sit upstairs until they said it was okay. Of course it always seemed like they made us sit up there for hours because we were so anxious to see what Santa left. ;)
pressdog: When do you start getting your schwerve back on for the next season?
When the deal is sealed! Hopefully, we’ll start testing in March and have our first race between March and April.
pressdog: Do you read all the @missfast1 replies to your Twitter stream? If yes, does anything in there shock/disturb you?
Shannon: Of course! Unfortunately, I haven’t had anything too exciting, shocking or disturbing come through, yet!
pressdog: Movie that always makes you laugh:
Shannon: I’m in love with Alan and Stu from the Hangover. I literally fall asleep in almost every movie I watch and have seen The Hangover TWICE in the theater and probably four more times on dvd… I love their characters and want them in my life!
pressdog: Top of Shannon’s Christmas wish list this year (no fair saying "more sponsors" or "World peace"):
Shannon: I am actually in the process of moving to Indy. I’ve got almost everything in place! I have a few resumes in and am trying to find a job that will work with my racing schedule…so finding the best-fitting job that will allow me to get over there asap is at the top of my Christmas list!
pressdog: On New Year’s Eve, are you more likely to be the designated driver or drive-ee?
Shannon: Of course the designated driver. I’m only 20, ya know!
pressdog: During holiday family times do you get a lot of racing-related questions or do they treat you like Shannon the cousin, niece, etc.
Shannon: Everyone is always curious to what’s going on. Having been racing since I was five, I think that’s sometimes the only thing people think of when they think of me haha..I have a very supportive family and they have seen my entire career progress through the ups and downs and they are all rooting for me and always hoping for good news : )
pressdog: Do you have a real Christmas tree or a fake one? How do you feel about holiday decorations? Griswold or minimalist?
Shannon: We have a real one…Love the smell of Christmas and I love Christmas deco. My family doesn’t get all crazy because we’re always on the go, but if I had my own place and time to do it, I’d go all out.
pressdog: Do you have a significant other? If so, will you name names. What does he want for want for Christmas (no fair saying "more sponsors for Shannon" or "World Peace").
Shannon: Heck no! I don’t have time for that! But if I did, he’d probably be asking for me to love him more than racing for Christmas ; )
Shannon: On Christmas Eve, my dad’s side of the family comes over which is always fun because that’s when we get to spend time with my Grandpa who comes up from Florida...My dad has three brothers so there’s lots of racing talk! On Christmas morning, Grandma comes over and we have breakfast with her and then we go to my mom’s side of the family.
We used to have to go to my Great Grandma McIntosh’s after that for the extended family deal, but since then-they’ve found that it works out better to just get together after Christmas…which is nice because we get a-whole-nother Christmas on a different day! It used to be lots and lots of running around!Check out the other Women of pressdog.com HERE.