Owens Talks Racing With SCC Students
Alli Owens spent Thursday afternoon in Automotive Electronics class at Sandhills Community College.
Thing is, the 20-year-old Mooresville resident with pink streaks in her hair and black finger nail polish isn't a student.
She is an aspiring NASCAR racer who spoke to the class about racing and career in motorsports.
Her career in racing began more than a decade ago at age 8 when she began racing BMX bikes. She moved on to four-wheel racing, finding success from the dirt tracks to the asphalt, before moving on to the ARCA RE/MAX Series in 2008. This year Alli signed with D'Hondt Motorsports..
"Once I got into a (race) car I was hooked," Owens said. "I fell in love. Racing became more than a sport. it became a lifestyle."
This weekend she will take the wheel of the No. 19 ElectrifyingCareers.com Toyota and compete in the ARCA/Remax Series Carolina 200 at the Rockingham Speedway.
A native of Daytona Beach, Fla., the Mooresville, resident knew in eighth grade that she wanted to race cars. So intent on following her dream she took honors courses in high school in order to graduate in three years.
"Her mother (Sherry) and I thought that during her sophomore year she'd get her driver's license, a boyfriend and all of this would go away," said Alli's father Mike, who travels with his daughter when he isn't tending to his janitorial business in Florida.
"But she did. She lives and breathes racing every day. We look back on it now and laugh."
They should have known that racing wasn't a passing fad when 8-year-old Alli rode her bike up and down the neighborhood each day after school seeking a sponsor for her burgeoning two-wheel racing career. One afternoon she returned home with news that a local real estate firm was willing to take a chance on a young racer with big dreams.
Ever since then Alli has been instrumental in marketing herself at every level, soliciting sponsors and learning everything she can about the sport she loves.
"I want to make a name for myself," Owens said. "I want to make a mark in Cup Series racing. I think there is a very broad range of things I can do in this sport; I like the marketing side of it, television and someday I hope to own my own team."
But things haven't been easy for a female in a male-dominated sport. Owens has paid her dues and persevered, though even she admits there were times when she wanted to quit.
"I couldn't give up," Owens said. "I love it too much."
Now, says her father Mike, Alli is beginning to be accepted by her fellow racers.
"It's been a hard ride for Alli," her father said. "She is just now being accepted in motorsports. Now they treat her like one of the guys because she has earned her way into their inner circle; she made it in their club."
Owens, who is also a national spokesperson for RAD Racers Against Drugs also spoke to the students at Pinecrest High School yesterday and will speak to Union Pines students today.
Owens will run 10 ARCA series races this year, and when she isn't racing she is speaking, promoting and marketing herself.
Last year she made more than 40 appearances in 16 states.
"It balances me out," she says of the speaking engagements. "I get to meet normal people, and to have a stranger come up to you and tell you that you've made their day, or ask you for an autograph, there is nothing cooler than that."
And what about zooming around a race track at speeds approaching 200 miles per hour, how, you ask, does Alli handle that?
With the same skill and aplomb she handles everything.
She has yet to win an ARCA race, but she has earned an outside pole position for quailifying with the second fastest speed at a race. She has also had several quality finishes including 15th at Rockingham last year. Oh, yeah, she did that while driving with a knee injury she suffered just weeks prior to the race in a motorcycle accident.
"That was the hardest race," said Owens who spent the entire race in agony with a knee that she described as "done for," soon after she climbed into her car.
Wednesday she offered the students in the Sandhills class an opportunity to check out a traveling prototype race car similar to the one she will race Saturday. She answered any and all questions and even offered the students some sound advice.
She encouraged the students to be aware of changing trends like a current push toward electric cars and more environmentally friendly designs.
"If you want to get a job in the motorsports industry you have to on top of your game," Owens said.
She speaks from experience.
Contact Tom Embrey at 693-2477 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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