Defining Dash Cup's Drivers

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Defining Dash Cup's Drivers

Post by Ben Atkins on Fri Oct 09, 2015 3:58 pm

OOC - This is basically meant to be a TV show that adds more insight into a drivers history and personality for the sake of the canon. If you see anything that would be useful for TMPedia, let me know or feel free to edit it in yourself.

Defining Dash Cup's Drivers: Episode 1 - Cassandra Collins

Despite being one of the youngest drivers in the Dash Cup paddock, Cassandra Collins is also one of the most naturally talented. Collins already has 10 wins in her short Dash Cup career, winning three races in her rookie year at Team Kwik Fit and Autosport Trepanier, three more in her sophomore year at Team Kwik Fit, and so far this season, four big wins, including a sweep of the second and third races in the most recently ran event at Circuit Thierry Sicotte. The daughter of 2003 Spa GP winner Brendan Collins, and the sister of two time race winner Lonnie Collins, she grew up in a racing family, however for most of Cassie's childhood, not many members of her family thought that she would follow in the footsteps of her father and her sister.

Lonnie Collins: She was a very girly girl when she was growing up. She wasn't fascinated by racing at first. While I was always watching Master Cup reruns, she'd throw a tantrum because her favourite soap opera wasn't on. To be fair she was about 5 when I was 16, so usually I just let her get what she wanted. I was always bad for giving her what she wanted, even if our parents said no, I'd usually go against them and do it anyway.

On Cassandra's 7th birthday, her father won the pole Spa GP, however she was not there to see it. However, Brendan Collins got to see his family that weekend as they flew out to see the main race, which, as mentioned before, he ended up taking home.

Cassie Collins: I don't really remember much from the race, but I remember Dad picking me up when he was stood on the podium. I remember thinking it was really cool. It was from then I got a bit more interested in racing, but it still wasn't much at all. I'd always ask him how he did, but not much more. I never watched unless I was at the track.

Brendan Collins: She was a bit more fixated by Barbie dolls and girl bands to watch the races. She'd only really watch if she didn't have a choice.

By the time Cassandra was 10, she had started to drop her previous interests, and became more engulfed in the world of racing. In the year 2006, her fathers success peaked. Brendan Collins took 6 wins home that season, however he still came short of the title to JP Beaufort, who took his third in a row, after Brendan had a mechanical failure in the season finale at Silverstone.

Cassie Collins: I remember asking 'Why isn't Dad's car going fast?' but it good overlooked by my mum and sister yelling and screaming at the TV in the paddock. I didn't even think race cars could break down at that point. I was extremely naive as a child.

However, rather than discouraging the youngest Collins child, it did the opposite.

Brendan Collins: It was about a month before Christmas, and Cassie still hadn't decided what she wanted. One night, she came up to me and Fiona, and she said she wanted to try racing for Christmas. It caught up both off guard but I was really excited about it. Around this time she had really changed her interests though. She didn't want to do the stuff she use to do. She wanted to play video games and watch the races Lonnie was.

Collins started out in the Junior Ministock series the next year in April, and performed decently. She finished 6th, 4th and 3rd in her first three races in a field of 13. There was yet to be another twist in Cassandra's short racing career, however. Lonnie Collins was racing at Oulton Park in a UK GT race while Cassie was in her third race across the country. Lonnie Collins was involved in a massive accident that left her with life-threatening injuries.

Cassie Collins: I'd just got my first podium so I was stoked, but my dad ran over to my car and just said 'We've got to go now." I was upset because I wanted to celebrate with the other kids on the podium but all he said was 'something bad had happened'. I bugged him and bugged him asking what it was and I don't think I'll remember something as vividly as when he said Lonnie was badly hurt. We drove all the way to the hospital closest to Oulton and I cried all the way there.

Cassandra was put off racing after her sister's accident, and stopped watching racing in fear that her dad, who continued to race until the end of the 2009 season, would get into a similar crash.

Lonnie Collins eventually recovered from her injuries, and made an improbable comeback to UK GT Racing for the 2009 season. Her performances still left something to be desired, however, and she was dropped at the end of the season. However, she received a call from Team Kwik Fit, who invited her to do three Dash Cup races in 2010.

Lonnie Collins: It took a lot of persuading but I really wanted Cassie to watch my Dash Cup races. She was scared for me but she said she would. I'm glad she did.

Lonnie did something even more improbable than her recovery. She won in her second start.

Cassandra Collins: That was an amazing moment for all of us. I was just so happy. I was inspired to go racing again. Not just because Lonnie won. Her first race she did at Toddring was the most amazing race I'd ever watched. It had the close finish with Atkins, Rosinski, Miller and Francisco. Carla barely won. Lonnie finished 16th.

Collins was entered for a tournament in the Alesbury Karting Facility track, where she was the fastest in her practice session off the bat. Collins made her way through several heat races to make the main, and finish second, despite being the third youngest driver entered into the race. Collins got to stand on the podium for the first time, and without her currently knowing it, it was the start of something amazing for her.

Brendan Collins: When Cassie was stood on the podium, I heard a very familiar voice congratulate her to me. It was Quinton [Young], and he said he was really impressed with her. He wanted to give her a career. So when Cassie came back over to me, we talked and she agreed to do a season in Legends cars to see how she coped.

In her first foray into the Legends Cars in 2011, she was timid and shy, not able to get up to speed, and seemingly always nervous about what happened. However, by the second half of the season, Collins' confidence took a massive boost when she was fastest in practice at Brands Hatch. Collins secured her first win that season, but also suffered a massive crash of her own.

Cassie Collins: I was something into Clearways when I was hit from behind from the person running in 6th. Next thing I know, the car is in the air and bouncing about. It went by so fast, and I would be injured in the crash when it was all over, but I was fine. I got out of the car and was in one piece. It was at that point I realised I had to, and could be fearless when racing.

Collins ran the 2012 season in the Legend Cars as well, and a dominant season seen Collins take out the title. Not eligible to take part in the Under 16s bracket anymore after her title, Collins was preparing for another season in Legend Cars, but then she received a call from her father that would change it all.

Cassie Collins: I remember Dad called me and said 'Team Kwik Fit want to fly you over to America for a Dash Cup tour. If you finish in the top 15 in points in the exhibition, they'll put you in a Dash Cup ride.' I got so excited because that's where my family had success and it meant so much for the team to put trust in me.

Daytona seen the first race of the only American Exhibition tour Dash Cup has hosted, and Collins shown exceptional pace and composure, and secured the good run with a top 5 finish. Collins' good runs continued, and despite no good finishes to show for it, seemingly, Collins shocked herself, her family and the entire Dash Cup community when she crossed the line first at Kentucky Speedway with a brave pass on the outside of the series champion Carla Rosinski.

Cassie Collins: I just thought dive it in, it might work. I was shaking the last few laps by running second, but Carla made a mistake and I went for the pass. It stuck, and I still don't know how it did. I was just screaming incoherently when I crossed the line to win.

It only got better for Collins as she finished the tour off with two top 5's, and as a result, got a piece of silverware that still has yet to be moved off her family's mantelpiece. The American Exhibition Championship.

Lonnie Collins: It was insane. I woke up in the morning to get to one of my UK GT races, and Dad told me to turn on CloudSport and look at the news. My little sister was a champion in a Dash Cup series. I was indescribably proud of her. I still am.

Collins, as a result of obliterating her top 15 mark, was called up for the 2013 season, originally on a part-time basis, sharing a car with Israel Bruce. Collins was chosen to make her début at Eurospeedway, which was a one-off event that year which seen drivers such as Packer Carroll and Ryan Matthews on the grid. Despite the odds, Collins still qualified for the race, and in style as she earned the pole position for the race.

Cassie Collins: The lap times were coming through from my spotter Mark, and I was 15th on the charts with about a minute to go, and I remember setting my lap and thinking it was horrible but then I heard Mark say 'Cassie you're on the pole, 42.8' and I just screamed 'WHAT?!?!?' at him. It was amazing.

Collins' luck in the race did not fair as well, however, as she got wrecked by Carla Rosinski in what was thought to be revenge for the Kentucky Exhibition race. Collins confronted Rosinski after the race, despite wearing a #71 2010 Champions bracelet made for when Rosinski won her title. While it hadn't shown yet on the track, a short temper is something Collins has always had.

Cassie Collins: Yeah, I'm pretty uncontrollable when I get mad. I've always had a short fuse. I use to be a little shit for it when I was a kid. I'm sure I still am now, haha.

To make matters worse for Collins, she was dropped in favour of Israel Bruce for the second race of the season at Norisring, but she made her return at Vnukovo, however she did not run as well as she would have liked. Collins was picked week after week to drive the #02, however, as she was expected to run the UK Tour in the car, and Bruce was to run every other race. However, things did not work out like that.

Cassie Collins: The Sussex GP that year was a mess. The driving standards majorly dropped, and we were driving a broken track. It was frightening to think about it.

Collins ended up on the podium in the first race of the weekend, but that was not what changed her year. In the second race on the last lap, Daniel Miller and Ashley Flynn were racing for position when Flynn turned her car to the left to try and get Miller loose. Instead, she hooked Millers car in the barrier, which partially gave way and penetrated Miller's car. Miller was severely injured in the accident, and Ashley Flynn was fired from the team with immediate effect.

Without a full time ride, Collins was contacted about driving the #79 with Kwik Fit backing, and the team and Collins approved the bid for Collins to take the ride, with Israel Bruce piloting the #02. Collins made an immediate impact at Autosport Trepanier, with her team debut coming at Oulton Park, a track historically bad for her family. However, Collins overcame the odds to take home her first win of her career.

Brendan Collins: It stunned me a bit when Akira went off. It was a sure win for her, and she threw it off, and Cassie just made the most of it. The first win is always the most important, and it was made even sweeter that it was at Oulton Park.

It didn't stop there for Collins. She went out and took her second win the very next week at Italy, by saving enough fuel to make it to the end and more. Collins won again at Twin Ring Motegi, and ended up finishing her rookie season with an incredible effort to finish 4th in points.

Collins stayed with Team Kwik Fit, where she earned similar success, winning three races, but going one down to finish 5th in points. However, there was one moment in the season that overshadowed her great performances.

It was going well for Collins at New York Autoring in the season finale. She didn't have a mathematical chance of winning the title, but it was two laps to do and she was leading the race, and by the best car by far. However, exiting turn 2, the caution came out, followed by a red flag. Collins pulled it into the pit lane, and got out of her car to see her sister, Lonnie's car sat upside-down in the tri-oval. It was another very serious crash for her sister.

Cassie Collins: I climbed out of my car, looked up at the big board to see what had happened, and my sisters car was destroyed, on its roof and ambulances were swarming around the car. I realised very quickly it was a serious accident. I thought at first she went into the catch fence, but then I heard Harold Smith and Daxter Hamlett talk about the crash, and they mentioned a wall opening. I pieced together what happened again. It was the worst feeling ever when I heard the medical helicopter fire up, and I seen them load Lonnie into the ambulance. But I did what she would have done. Raced on.

Collins went on to lose the race barely, but immediately left the track to go to the hospital to be at Lonnie's side. Thankfully, Lonnie's injuries proved to be non life-threatening, but it was still a major scare for Cassie and her family.

Despite the seemingly brilliant chemistry Kwik Fit and Collins had, Collins elected to start the Super Touring era at Atlantic Motorsports, the 2014 championship winning team with Hannah Percy, the driver she swapped her ride with.

Cassie Collins: I remember telling Hannah she'd fit in at Team Kwik Fit because her helmet will be blue and blue and orange go together. I don't think she appreciated the ginger joke, however. She made fun of me for my 'posh voice'. I'm not posh!

However, things have not been easy for Collins at the start of the season. Despite her four wins, and despite her championship hopes being very much alive, Collins was ultimately not happy at Atlantic, and chose to make a mid-season ride swap to the ATK Race Team.

Cassie Collins: A lot of things played on my mind at Atlantic. We were berated every day after a few unsuccessful races. I didn't enjoy driving down to the race shop and spending my day there like I did at Kwik Fit, and like I do at ATK. It affected my performance, and I only really picked it up when I knew I was going.

One big incident that happened was at the Rockingham Motor Speedway, where Collins was taking part in the Oval Stocks event. However, going for the lead towards the end of the race, Collins got into the back of series regular Perrie Forrester, and in turn collected her teammates, Kellan Rogers-Ashby and Natalie Kendall. Rogers-Ashby slid out into turn 2, where she was struck by Ebony Phillips, who flipped into the catchfence. Phillips did not survive the accident.

Cassie Collins: I could not sleep. I could not turn on the television. All over the media was the crash, all I heard about was the crash and I was stuck in a hole. However, my friends helped me out of it. Ben Atkins was a huge help during that time. He knew how it felt. That was a huge factor as to why I chose to join his team.

Collins is now at The ATK Race Team full time until the end of the 2016 season, stating that she is happier at the team.

The 18 year old still has a lot of time left in her racing career, and with speculation that Collins may be penned in to make some TM Master Cup appearances in the near future, Collins has potential to reach the top, and there is no reason that she shouldn't.

Ben Atkins: Cassie's talented. Stupidly talented. She has the potential to be the best driver the world has ever seen. I'm scared to see what she can do in a few years, because she hasn't even reached her peak yet. I am willing to bet she will be a champion in either Formula A or TMMC at some point.

Cassie Collins: People always say that I have the potential to be the best, and of course I aim to, but for now I'm focusing on enjoying life. I'm only 18 and there's a lot to life on the road ahead. I'll take life one step at a time.

Collins is also one of the most popular drivers in the paddock, credited for her kindness and selflessness, despite her short temper. Collins' has many friends in the paddock, including Hannah Percy, Harriet Wallace, her ex-teammate Kellan Rogers-Ashby, and she has reportedly had a relationship start with Joey Clagett as of recent, when the two met in the paddock this year.

Cassie Collins: They call me the posh one in the paddock, but I don't get why. My voice isn't even that posh. It's fine though, we're all friendly with each other for the most part. There are a few people who I don't like to associate with in the paddock, but everyone is lovely for the most part.

Only time will tell how Collins will fare in her career, but with a title seemingly within a realistic grasp, will she boost her bid to become the best sooner rather than later?

(OOC: If you read all of this, kudos to you. I don't blame you if you didn't. :V)

Last edited by Ben Atkins on Fri Oct 09, 2015 4:07 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : Formatting.)


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Re: Defining Dash Cup's Drivers

Post by Ben Atkins on Wed May 04, 2016 8:53 pm

Episode 2 - Matilda Dillinger

Her career in the main series of Dash Cup may have only just begun, but 17 year old Matilda Dillinger has already become one of the most talked about drivers in the Dash Cup paddock. Currently driving the #28 car for STS ATK Racing, Dillinger’s career took off last season, when she was put into the #2 Team Kwik Fit Oval Stock in short notice and put it in the victory circle in just her first weekend.
Dillinger grew up an avid racing fan in a racing family. Her father, Peter, drove in Dash Cup for 5 years, running full-time in 1999, the year Matilda was born, until 2002, then running part-time in 2003 before retiring, aged just 30 to focus on his family life. Matilda’s grandfather, Gerald, drove open-wheelers in the 1970’s and 1980’s before a crash at Snetterton Circuit sidelined him. At the time of Peter’s early retirement, the Dillinger family seemed to be done with racing as a whole, and it appeared that way until late 2005, when Peter was watching the Dash Cup season finale at the Nogaro Circuit. Matilda walked in and seen the start of the race, and ended up sitting in the room with the father, paying close attention to the television until the end of the race.

Peter Dillinger: She was completely fixated on the race. It was the quietest I’d ever heard a 7 year old be. Matilda was a pretty loud kid, but she was completely immersed by the race. Before that, I’d completely given up on getting the family back into racing. I had three daughters, Matilda being the oldest, and the only female that regularly contended in Dash Cup back in the early 2000’s was Verity Logan.

The next time racing came around for the Dash Cup season, Matilda and her father were not in front of their television. Instead they were at the Toddring to watch the race at the track.

Matilda Dillinger: I remember my first race really well. We went into the paddock and my dad was talking to a bunch of people he raced against. We went into his old team’s garage and there was this new driver that no one had really heard of in there, but my dad told me that he was supporting his team, so naturally I did too.

The new driver for Dillinger’s old team, Power Performance Motorsports, was South African Ebony Phillips. She had been in Italian Formula C for the 2005 racing season, but made the move over to Dash Cup. It was seen as an unusual move by the Dash Cup community, and at the time it was almost unheard of to put a young female in the car, but Phillips was out there to make a point.

Matilda Dillinger: She was in the lead quite a lot over the race, but I think she had a problem with her car near the end. I remember being upset at the end, and my dad wasn’t happy because someone he didn’t like won. I can’t remember who, though. [OFFSTAGE: “BEAUFORT”] It was Beaufort? Figures, my dad did not like him at all, hahaha.

Phillips quickly became Dillinger’s favorite driver, however Phillips’ season came to an end early when Power Performance Motorsports filed for bankruptcy nearing the halfway point of the season. At the time, Phillips was 13th in points.

Matilda Dillinger: We were watching a race on TV and they said Ebony and the team wasn’t going to be racing and I was so mad at that. I still loved watching the races, but it sucked having no one to root for!

Dillinger and her father regularly attended Dash Cup races for the next few years, but she did not drive a car until 2009, at the age of 10, where she got a slightly unusual start to her racing career.

Matilda Dillinger: It was about a month after my 10th birthday, sometime in March, and my dad took me to Santa Pod. I’d never really heard of drag racing, but he took me to this little junior modified and said “You’re driving this today.” I cried with happiness, as pretty much expected, but I was expecting to do more than drive straight…

She didn’t have a great showing in her first outing into drag racing, scoring 31st overall, being eliminated in pre-qualifications, and Dillinger did not exactly seem to enjoy it either.

Peter Dillinger: She got out and asked me if she could turn next time. She expected to be a Dash Cup driver straight away.

After some persuasion, Peter Dillinger convinced his daughter to continue driving the junior dragster for another few races, where Matilda managed to score a best finish of 6th overall in an event. Matilda did not race in 2010 or 2011, but received another unusual call-up in 2012.

Peter Dillinger: I got a call from Bernard Knoll, the former owner of PPM and he asked me if I could think of anyone to do Junior Motocross, and without missing a beat I said Tillie’s name.

However, there was a huge issue with this. Despite being 13 years old at the time, Dillinger was unable to ride a regular bike… never mind a dirt bike.

Matilda Dillinger: It was such a bloody stupid problem but my balance use to be horrible. My dad just wanted me to get into racing, and I wanted it to as well, but he wasn’t using his head when he said for me to do Motocross.

It shown that Dillinger was not comfortable in Motocross, as she was unable to get through any of her test sessions without falling off the bike, or being incredibly slow. She did not get to make a start in the series, however it was not the end of the racing season for her.

Matilda Dillinger: My dad stopped me doing Motocross before I ended up pulling off some form of assisted suicide via dirt bike by buying me a Legends car for the under 16s series. It was much more my type of thing, for sure. To make it completely clear, I can ride a bike without problems now, haha.

Dillinger’s operation was well underfunded and, on paper, bound to be a failure, however in Dillinger’s first outing, she managed to place the car 5th in qualifying before going on to finish 2nd to none other than her current teammate Cassandra Collins. It marked the first time in that series history that two females stood on the podium together.

The underfunded operation continued to perform well above its weight until a huge crash at Oulton Park wrote off the car. It appeared to be the end of Dillinger’s season, however she was given a lifeline.

Quinton Young: I’d noticed this plain red car in the top 5 all the time, and I always scratched my head as to how it was up there. When I heard that team was done, I wasn’t ready to allow that. I give Matilda a car and told her “be as aggressive as you want.” It made a difference. She went out and won her first race with the team.

Cassandra Collins: She was the first driver to go out there and beat me straight up that season. I was rivals on track with her before Dash Cup, but we were also pretty friendly. That’s why we share such a good friendship now.

Dillinger went on to win twice at the end of the season, before dominating the 2013 and 2014 seasons for Team Kwik Fit. On top of her racing commitments, Dillinger still regularly attended Dash Cup races over the years, and was at the race that seen her racing hero make a full time return in 2013.

Matilda Dillinger: I was scrolling through the internet when I see on my Twitter that Ebony Phillips got picked up by Atlantic and I think I screamed a little in excitement. She had a ride for the rest of the season, and I got to see her race as I went to the Sussex GP that year… but that wasn’t all good.

During the Sussex GP, Daniel Miller had a crash that gave him career-ending injuries that later proven fatal. While Dillinger was not a fan of Miller, she still found the aspect of a career-ending crash daunting, naturally.

Matilda Dillinger: That’s when I really got it drilled in my head that… that could be me if it went wrong.

As she turned 16 in early 2015, there were plans to get Dillinger to run the full Aspira Juniors schedule in Dash Cup, as well as an Oval Stocks race at the end of the year. However, that was to change drastically before the start of her season.

Dillinger was at Rockingham on the Friday before the race, getting accustomed to her new surroundings in Dash Cup, but went home in the evening. She spoke to her racing hero, Ebony Phillips, asking for advice during the day, and went home happy.

As normal, she sat down on the Saturday with her father to watch the race, but something significant happened at the end of the race that, without anyone knowing, would directly change her life.

Matilda Dillinger: I remember seeing this huge crash and a car went roof first into the fence. I didn’t realise who it was at first, but I knew it was bad. When I saw it was Ebony I was, at first, really mad. She’d had a pretty poor start to the season and this added onto it, but when the safety crews got there and the cameras started panning away, my heart sank. I watched enough racing and was smart enough to know that meant it was bad.

The race continued, and Dillinger kept on watching with her dad, but the usual cheery mood that was in the room during a race was gone.

Peter Dillinger: I will never forget the last few laps of that race. Tillie was staring at the screen with near to no expression on her face. When the race ended, she just got up and locked herself in her room. We didn’t hear from her for a long time.

Matilda Dillinger: I went to my room after the race finished and just lay on my bed, thinking about what just happened. I just seen someone I considered my hero get into a giant crash and I didn’t know how she was. I ignored texts from my boyfriend at the time, my mother was trying to talk to me and I didn’t say anything… I was just so in shock.

The situation was only to get worse, as Phillips did not survive her injuries.

Matilda Dillinger: I still think about it a lot. It’s weird that I was speaking to her one day and the next she… wasn’t with us. To anyone normal, seeing their hero get killed doing what they loved would put them off following in their footsteps… but I’m not normal I guess.

This directly changed Dillinger’s life just one week later. She received a call from Team Kwik Fit, and Quinton Young asked Dillinger if she would make her Oval Stocks debut at Mallory Park, driving the #2 that Ebony Phillips had started the season in.

Matilda Dillinger: It was pretty emotional just getting to drive the car. I loved every moment of it, though. Mallory is a tough track but I had such a good time around there.

Dillinger started off well in her first race. She qualified 7th and took her car towards the front early before being caught up in a crash with Kellan Rogers-Ashby. Dillinger’s car went off the track in turn 3 before hitting a tire wall and rolling onto its side. The Dash Cup community held their breath after seeing the #2 car suffer a horrendous crash for the second race weekend in a row, but there was a collective sigh of relief when Dillinger climbed out of her car unhurt.

Peter Dillinger: I was so scared. I knew it was my girl in that destroyed car, but she got out and acted professional… as if she’d had experience in huge crashes. Any first time watchers would have thought she’d been doing it for years but she was just a teenager in her first race. It was impressive.

The crash did seem to affect Dillinger however. While she set a faster qualifying lap, scoring her first front row berth with a 2nd place lap, Dillinger quickly fell through the field, being easily the most passive driver on the track.

Todd Benatar: I was wondering what she was doing. I thought she was driving incredibly timid and wasn’t making moves. She could have passed Ben Atkins at any time, she had the speed but she never made an aggressive move at all.

Dillinger managed to hang in the top 3 due to attrition, but her plan came to life with a few laps to go when the leader Ben Atkins went into the pits with four laps to go. Dillinger stayed out.
It went to three laps to go. Two laps to go. One lap to go and Dillinger still did not pit her car. The checkered flag flew and Dillinger had done the impossible. She won in her first race weekend in the Oval Stocks series.

Todd Benatar: It was an incredible moment. I still don’t know how she made in on fuel. She shown an exceptional amount of talent and brilliance behind the wheel. I knew when she crossed the line she would be special.

Peter Dillinger: I was so proud. It took her two races to better me. I never finished higher than 7th and she won in her second start!

Matilda Dillinger: It was a pretty good moment, wasn’t it?

Dillinger was elated at first but when asked in her victory circle interview about her hero, Dillinger was brought to tears.

Matilda Dillinger: I think it was a combination of being overwhelmed that I won in Ebony’s car then I started thinking about her and all of it just brought me to tears. I’m still proud of what I did that day. I think I always will be.

Dillinger never went on to win again that season, but her performances in the Oval Stocks caught the attention of several teams, and suddenly there was a huge chase for her signature. While Kwik Fit said they had no intentions on bringing Dillinger to their main Super Stocks team, Atlantic Motorsports, then owned by William Atkins, and the newly formed STS ATK Racing were the main two teams in the fight for Dillinger.

However, Dillinger revealed she knew more than she let on.

Matilda Dillinger: I knew that the Atlantic rumours were a bunch of rubbish because I’d been told Ryan Matthews and Carter Fitzgerald were getting involved in that team. However with Ben’s team, he told me at Mallory he wanted to talk at some point. We did talk and he wanted me for his team in 2016. I’d penned down a contract before the Spa GP, but no-one except my family knew.

However, another event at the Mallory Park weekend would open up more opportunities for Dillinger as Lucia Moreno found herself suspended from her Super Touring drive after her actions during the third race of the weekend. As a result, Dillinger was handed a chance in the #22 car in Moreno’s home country, Italy. It was not an easy weekend for Dillinger, however, as she failed to score in the top 20 in any of the weekend’s three races, and suffered a big crash which seen her tip onto her roof in the second race.

Matilda Dillinger: It was a really gentle crash, honestly. It was just a new experience having to get out of a car that was stuck on its roof, but the Super Touring cars are really roomy so it wasn’t an issue at all.

Dillinger was also handed a chance to attempt Dash Cup’s crown jewel event, the Spa GP. As predicted, the #22 had no issues making it into the race, but Dillinger’s car did not last the distance and she finished out of the points again. As Dillinger’s contract with STS ATK Racing for 2016 became public soon after the start of the Aspira Juniors season, she was not given any more chances in the #22 car, and finished out the Oval Stocks and Aspira Juniors seasons with Team Kwik Fit.

The 2016 season offers something new to Dillinger. Her failure to finish the Rookies Only Race continued her bad luck in the main series of Dash Cup, but the next race seen her taste success for the first time. Just a little while ago, Dillinger managed to secure her first points and podium in the top series as she finished 3rd and progressing to the feature.

On top of this, this year marked the first where Dillinger waded into something other than racing. With her new sponsor, Suburban, a popular clothing shop aimed at teenagers and young adults, coming on board, Dillinger was offered the chance to try her hand at modelling for the store.

Matilda Dillinger: It’s totally out of my comfort zone, but I want to do things that seem like they wouldn’t suit me. I’m an introvert, but at the same time I can be outgoing. Honestly, I love the modelling, but it’s so unusual when I’m in a Suburban and I see myself on their posters and stuff… but it makes me happy when I do. I know I’ve done something worthwhile.
To let you get to know Matilda a bit better, we asked her a few more personal questions at the end of the interview.

Q: Are you currently single or taken?
A: Single! I haven’t been for too long, honestly, but I like it that way!
Q: Favourite band at the moment?
A: Avenged Sevenfold. That always shocks everyone. I love metal music.
Q: Favourite song at the moment?
A: “The Carpal Tunnel of Love” by Fall Out Boy. Blame Ben [Atkins] and Cassie [Collins]. They’re huge Fall Out Boy fans.
Q: Best friend in the paddock?
A: Probably Cassie [Collins]. I have a bunch of amazing friends in the paddock but I’ve known Cassie for a few years now.
Q: Favourite TMMC driver?
A: I feel like you expect me to say my team owner, however that’s a cop-out. Melanie Clevenot.
Q: Biggest pet peeve?
A: Slow people walking in front of me. I’m a race car driver, I want to go fast, naturally!
Q: What do you do with your spare time?
A: I love spending time with my little sisters. They have no interest in racing, sadly, but they’ll always ask me how I did when I see them!
Q: How about when you’re not at home?
A: I’ll spend time with my friends at the track instead! I spend a lot of time playing video games with Cassie and the Clagetts and whoever else is hanging out with us. It’s great because a lot of the people in the Dash Cup paddock are close so we’re always spending time with each other.
Q: Funniest teammate?
A: James Hewitt. He’s hysterical. His rage at football games is amazing. He made a joke about his players’ spatial awareness the other day and Ben [Atkins] was laughing for a good 10 minutes straight. The things he comes out with sometimes are amazing.
Q: And finally, any random fact!
A: My nickname, Tillie Dillie, came about when a substitute teacher was calling out the register and said “Tillie Dilli-ger”. No one had ever shortened my name until then but he decided too then he butchered my surname! My friends then kept calling me Tillie Dillie and I rolled with it.

It’s still a relatively short career for Dillinger, but with her progressing through the ranks so quickly, who knows what the future can hold for the youngster.


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NR2003 Online Wins: 123 (Latest - EFR Short Track Challenge at Carolina Motorspots Park [09/20/18])
NR2003 Online Poles: 83 (Latest - EFR Short Track Challenge at Carolina Motorspots Park [09/20/18])
iRacing Online Offical Wins: 20 (Latest - NASCAR Trucks at Atlanta [02/20/18])
NR2003 Championships: 6 (2013/2014 GOMA Trucks, Formula 5 Season 12, 2014 GOMA Trucks, Formula 5 Season 13, Formula 5 Season 14, Formula 5 Season 16)

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Ben Atkins

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Re: Defining Dash Cup's Drivers

Post by Ben Atkins on Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:48 pm

Episode 3 - Harriet Wallace

Harriet Wallace has been in the Dash Cup series for just under five years now, but for the 21 year old, it has not always been easy. Wallace is best known for being one of the only Welsh drivers in the paddock, and while she has yet to experience some of the success that her teammates and friends in the series have, Wallace is also known to be one of the most reliable drivers in the field, consistently finishing in the top 10, scoring 20 of them en route to her 11th place finish in points in 2015.

However, things have not always been easy for Wallace. Born in Machynlleth, Wales, Wallace came from a family that did not have something that most racers family have to help their career get started; money. Wallace’s mother was a freelance artist and her father worked in retail. Wallace lived in a small house with her parents and older sister, Lola where money was often something to be desired.

Harriet Wallace: We didn’t have any desirable things like TVs or computers when I was young. It got pretty difficult at times, but I didn’t really appreciate it when I was a kid.

Wallace only learned about racing when she was at a friend’s house when she was 6, and in the background on the television was the highlights of a 2001 TM Master Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Harriet Wallace: I kind of just glimpsed over at the television and I saw these cool looking cars going round really fast and I was intrigued. I wanted to watch more of it but I got dragged away. It wasn’t until years later I learned that Benny Dwyer had died in that race. Had I seen that first, it might have changed my whole perspective on racing.

As soon as Wallace got home that day, she was persistent on getting to watch racing again, and luck would come her way, as the very same day, her father brought home a television – the first time Wallace’s family had owned one since she was born.

Tony Wallace: Harriet watched Formula A, TM Master Cup, BTC, Dash Cup, well… anything really. Every Sunday, that TV was hers. She didn’t care any other day, but she was glued to the screen when racing was on. It worked for me, I enjoyed it all, too!

Another stroke of luck would come in the way of the Wallace family, as Julia Wallace, Harriet’s mother, sold one of her art pieces for a good amount and also struck a deal with a gallery meaning she had a reliable income for the first time. The Wallace’s moved into a bigger house, and it became easier for Wallace to satisfy her racing needs.

When Wallace turned 10, she went to a go-karting track with some of her friends as a part of her birthday celebrations, and while she had never driven a vehicle in her life before, something seemed to click with Wallace and she was turning fast laps. In fact, she broke the track record in her age bracket in only her second visit to the track.

Natural talent was on Wallace’s side, however her parents were still not earning enough to give her a ride in competition. Until she was 12, Wallace regularly visited her local go-karting track but eventually it was a luxury she could not afford, and Wallace gave up visiting the track for the time being.

However, determination and hard work was something Wallace was not afraid of, and she went around her town doing odd jobs for people earning money so she could go to her local track. She earned enough money to go every fortnight until she was 14, when another wave of luck would come her way. She got her big break.

Harriet Wallace: I went to the track as normal when someone yelled at me to go over to them. It was a team owner in one of the BTC support classes. He wanted me to test one of their Formula Inglesby cars. I remember running home that night and screaming at my dad in excitement. He was pumped and so was I. It was awesome.

Wallace took the opportunity with both hands and travelled down to the Anglesey Circuit with her father for her test. There was one problem however, it was a rainy day, and Wallace had never driven in outdoor conditions before, never mind rainy conditions.

Tony Wallace: I was nervous for her. She never drove a car this powerful and never drove in the rain. I thought she was going to turn her back on it after all.

Wallace did take to the track however, and pulled off another shock, as she was just fine in the rainy conditions. While others struggled to find their grip in the rain, Wallace was setting lap times that impressed the team owner, one Kassidy Evans.

Harriet Wallace: I wasn’t aware of how big of a name Kassidy was at the time but it was my break. It was what I worked for. What I hoped for.

Wallace got a call a few weeks later from Evans offering her a fully sponsored ride in the Formula Inglesby support series for the BTC for the 2010 season. Wallace raced competitively for the first time, but another first also came across Wallace. She struggled to get going. Her first few races at Oulton Park and Rockingham seen her finish well in the bottom half of the field. Wallace’s first big result was a 7th place at Snetterton, but it would be her only top 10 in her season, and Wallace was dropped with three rounds to go, despite being the best performing driver at Evans’ then struggling team.

Harriet Wallace: I couldn’t get a handle of the cars Kassidy Evans’ gave us. None of the team could, but I got replaced before I could finish out the season. At that age, it broke my heart and I figured it was cool that I could say I raced competitively, but I wasn’t really aware that there was still interest in me.

In 2011, Wallace was picked up by a team to race in the Gasnier support series for an underfunded team looking for a sponsor. Wallace worked endlessly to find a sponsor before the company her father worked for, Waitrose, agreed to sponsor the car. Wallace picked up the Gasniers immediately, and finish on the podium three times in the first half of the season. Her first win would come at Thruxton, and her second would be at the Toddring infield road course.

Harriet Wallace: At that time, I much preferred the closed cockpit cars. I felt like they were much more my style. I might be biased because I won some races, but I just generally felt happier driving those cars.

Wallace finished out her Gasnier season 6th in points after a late season fall-off. Wallace looked to be out of a ride again despite her stellar showing, but then, in early 2012, but shy of her 17th birthday, she got a call that would change her life.

Tony Wallace: I remember picking up the phone and hearing “Hi, it’s Ben Atkins from Atlantic Motorsports” and I was thinking to myself… ‘My god, a Dash Cup champion is calling me!’ He asked for Harriet and I couldn’t begin to imagine where her career was going.

Harriet Wallace: When I got off the phone with Ben, I seen my family waiting for my word and I kind of just said in shock, ‘I’m racing in Dash Cup for Atlantic.’ My family were ecstatic but I couldn’t get my head around it. I couldn’t believe it. I spent the race of the night pretty much crying in happiness.

Wallace made her debut at Mallory Park in the #31 car for Atlantic Motorsports, and despite missing a lap 7 accident narrowly, Wallace would fail to score points. Wallace return for the next week at Brno and despite a third place qualifying effort, Wallace would again fail to score in that race. Wallace would be replaced by Matt Tremblay for the next four races, and there was speculation that she would not return to the series.

Harriet Wallace: I wasn’t sure where my future in Dash Cup was at that point, but I got told that I was going to be attempting Spa for the team and I was stoked. I loved watching the Spa GP and I was amazed at the fact the team were putting enough faith into me to give it a go when I’d sucked in the first two races.

It was well worth putting Wallace in the #31 for that car. She put her car in the field convincingly, starting 23rd, and she managed to work her way through the field in the 23 lap race, bringing her car home in 2nd place. Although she didn’t show it at the time, Wallace was emotional over her brilliant underdog performance.

Harriet Wallace: That when I knew I could make it. I remember passing cars left and right and thinking to myself “Holy crap, I could wind up in the top 10!” but I did… well a LOT better, hahaha!

Atkins was impressed, and worked endlessly to secure Wallace a ride in the 2013 season with Atlantic Motorsports. Also as a result of the her miraculous 2nd place finish, Wallace seen out the end of the season in the #31 car, where she recorded another top 5 finish, a 4th at Dash Cup’s only outing to Carbondale Raceway.

Despite Atkins’ attempts to keep Wallace in the #28 car, in the end, STS Racing Inc’s return to the series lured her away from the former champions, ironically, a team owned by Kassidy Evans.

Harriet Wallace: I remember getting that call, and I’d worked with Kassidy before, obviously, so I decided to take a shot in the dark and go for it.

It didn’t take Wallace long to get use to the STS’s, as Wallace scored a solid 5th place finish in the over-capacity Eurospeedway Grand Prix. Wallace followed this up with an 8th at Norisring, an 11th at Vnukovo, a 3rd at Mallory, another 11th at Toddring, a 5th at Rockingham and a 4th at Sussex. Exiting the controversial Sussex Grand Prix, the Welshwoman was only 9 points out of the championship lead, and she was looking like an early championship favourite.

Harriet Wallace: It was awesome doing that good at the beginning of the season. Our worst finish in 8 races was 11th and I thought we could keep it up all season, but I wanted something more than that. I wanted to win.

However, between the Sussex and Oulton Grand Prix’s, Wallace returned to Rockingham Motor Speedway to attempt a Formula Overdrive event with Garry Carter’s team. Wallace had not been accustomed to open-wheel cars, but Wallace, with Ben Atkins, decided to take on the challenge.

Wallace ended up winning that race.

Harriet Wallace: It was so unexpected. I had a Dash Cup champion chasing me down, trying to beat me, but I somehow held him off. It was an incredible victory, and I was just thrilled. It eased the pain of not winning in Dash Cup off until I got to Oulton and decided to blow up.

Wallace’s good form was halted by an engine mishap at Oulton Park, but it was brought right back as she earned her first career pole position at Autodromo Antonio Passero; Dash Cup’s first venture to a short oval.
Wallace lead many of the race’s closing laps, and looking well in control to take her first Dash Cup victory only weeks after her Formula Overdrive triumph, but the fuel ran dry, and Wallace had to pit her car. She was relegated to a 21st place finish.

Harriet Wallace: When my car ran dry, I was just screaming and swearing with anger and frustration. It was just a feeling of… emptiness. I was so upset with myself that I couldn’t get the win.

Wallace finished in the top 5 again in France, but this would, unexpectedly, be her last top 5 of the season. She would finish in the top 10 just once more, at Karjala, but then she came across struggles worse than in her first stint with a Kassidy Evans team. She failed to make the Spa GP, the event she had finished 2nd in just one year prior.

Harriet Wallace: After Italy, my confidence was just completely gone. I couldn’t piece together good runs like I could in the early part of the season, and missing the Spa GP just completely took it out of me.

New York would prove another difficulty, as the #6 car was involved in an early crash that took out half of the field. Wallace’s car slammed into the end of the pit wall, and in a scary accident, Wallace capped off her wishy-washy season with injuries, including a concussion and a broken wrist. She was not retained by STS Racing, Inc.

2014 seen a new challenge for Wallace, as she made the full move over to the Formula Overdrive series, where she made it two-for-two in wins, as she took home the victory at Auto Club Speedway in California. She also ran select races for Proline GP, an underfunded new project in the Dash Cup series, where she took the teams’ then best finish of 6th at Oulton Park.

After Formula Overdrive collapsed in the middle of the 2014 season, Wallace did select races in the BTC as well, but her results did not impress, and she did not remain in the series to see out the season.
She did, however, remain in a Touring car series, as frontrunners Team Kwik Fit picked her up to take over from the departing Cassandra Collins for the 2015 season. Wallace began her season much like her 2013 season, with good results all over, but Wallace still pushed for that win, and it shown in the Sussex Grand Prix.

Harriet Wallace: That race… that was a bitter pill to swallow.

In the third race of the weekend, the reverse grid race, Wallace was running fourth coming to the last lap when leaders Grant Macintosh and Israel Bruce tangled, giving Collins the lead with Wallace in second. A few corners later, in the rainy conditions, Collins slid off the track, opening the door for Wallace to take the lead. Wallace momentarily took the lead before Collins turned the #02 into the wall head on. Wallace had to settle for 18th, and had to miss out on her first Dash Cup win again.

Harriet Wallace: I was upset, then just furious. It was by far the angriest I’ve ever been in my racing career. I honestly thought that was mine to win.

Wallace and Collins had a minor confrontation after the race, but the two friends managed to solve it before the Oulton Park Grand Prix. Something did come from that race though, as Cassandra Collins had her qualifying time wiped as a result of wrecking Wallace, and alongside a Kellan Rogers-Ashby penalty, this gifted the third place qualifier the pole. Wallace was that third place qualifier, and was gifted her second pole position.

It didn’t bring a good result, however, as Wallace dropped through the order in both races, so far that she started third in the reverse grid race, but Wallace found speed during said race and passed by Grant Macintosh to take the lead and didn’t look back, finally taking her first Dash Cup victory.

Harriet Wallace: I don’t think I’ve ever heard the phrase “About time!” as much as I did after that third race. It was just a relief getting that win. I knew I had it in me but a lot of people didn’t. It was nice to finally secure it.

Wallace went on to win the Oval Stocks race at Mallory Park just a week later, but in the Super Touring event, she missed the final two races of the weekend having, for the third time, broken her wrist in an accident.

Harriet Wallace: I’m kind of used to casts now. Hoping for a season where I can go without wearing one, haha.

Wallace finished the season 11th in points in the Kwik Fit car, but her performances were good enough for the team to warrant keeping her around for another season in the #02.

Wallace started the 2016 season off with a bang, by scoring a win in a side by side finish in the All-Star race at Toddring, before recording two strong results of 7th and 4th in the official races for that weekend. Wallace held the points lead entering the next race weekend at Rockingham but that was compromised after a lap three accident took her out of the race in her Sprint. Wallace’s results since consist of 7th and 11th at Oulton, and 19th and 28th at Mallory Park.

Harriet Wallace: The objective this year is to get that top 10 in points I’ve been chasing for a while. It’s just like my first race win. It’ll come to me.

As we did with Matilda’s segment last time around, we asked Harriet Wallace some questions to let you get to know her better.

Q: Are you currently single or taken?
A: Taken. Sorry lads.
Q: Favourite band at the moment?
A: Bon Iver!
Q: Favourite song at the moment?
A: “It’s Hip To Be Square” by Huey Lewis and The News. Not the bees version.
Q: Best friend in the paddock?
A: Carla Rosinski. I think anyone would know that without me having to say it with the amount of time we spend together in the paddock.
Q: Favourite TMMC driver?
A: I’m a Leonid fan. Love seeing the backmarker teams do well, though!
Q: Biggest pet peeve?
A: When race teams use Twitter to fire drivers and all that. It’s not happened in a while, which is good, but that got on my nerves so much!
Q: What do you do with your spare time?
A: I’m on Netflix watching something. If I’m not being lazy, I’m usually in the gym.
Q: How about when you’re not at home?
A: I’m usually discussing hair dye with Carla then.
Q: Funniest teammate?
A: Joey Clagett. While Amber can be super-duper serious about the little things, Joey just tends to try and wind her up. It always amuses me in team briefings and whatnot when he’s just getting her more and more wound up.
Q: Any random fact!
A: I’m dyslexic! When I first started at Kwik Fit, Quinton asked me why it was taking me so long to read my contract and I had to explain. Don’t worry, he apologized quite a lot… for weeks afterwards…
Q: And finally, any random question for the next driver!
A: I think I need to be clever with this one so… how are you driving the track this weekend?

Harriet Wallace recently signed for STS ATK Racing for the 2017 season, joining up with Kassidy Evans and Ben Atkins in a return with both owners. Will the STS equipment prove to be a factor in the years to come?

(OOC: Pretty sure this is the worst one I've done yet but I didn't realise how mediocre Wallace's stats were until I started writing this :V)


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NR2003 Online Wins: 123 (Latest - EFR Short Track Challenge at Carolina Motorspots Park [09/20/18])
NR2003 Online Poles: 83 (Latest - EFR Short Track Challenge at Carolina Motorspots Park [09/20/18])
iRacing Online Offical Wins: 20 (Latest - NASCAR Trucks at Atlanta [02/20/18])
NR2003 Championships: 6 (2013/2014 GOMA Trucks, Formula 5 Season 12, 2014 GOMA Trucks, Formula 5 Season 13, Formula 5 Season 14, Formula 5 Season 16)

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Ben Atkins

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