At the end of the racing season, NASCAR celebrated the best of the season and crowned the champions in each series. But there are drivers who have set records and earned their share of the awards that never get recognized outside their local communities.
Third generation driver Katie Hettinger has been named the 2022 Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award winner after displaying her prowess on the short tracks this past season.
At just 15 years old, Hettinger isn’t even old enough to drive on the streets in most states; but on the race track she set the record for the winningest female driver at Hickory Motor Speedway.
The Matt Piercy Racing driver noted that winning the Trailblazing Award was a major surprise. Hettinger spoke on winning the award saying, “this is definitely a huge accomplishment. Wendell Scott broke so many barriers, and I’m really honored to receive this award. I’m really proud of my team for helping me accomplish so much this year.” She also noted that winning the award reminded her of just how far NASCAR has come when it comes to diversity in the sport.
She added, “I really felt like we improved by working with a lot of different people. Although we mostly worked with Matt Piercy, I got to drive so many different cars, which included a go-kart at [the GoPro Motorplex] with Josh Wise and Scott Speed. Hopefully in 2023, we’ll be really good everywhere.”
She is hoping to be an inspiration for future female drivers in racing and NASCAR.
Named after NASCAR’s first driver of colour to win a race, the Wendell Scott Trailblazing Award is given to the driver’s on track performance, sportsmanship, and community service.
Previous Wendall Scott Award winners include NASCAR drivers Ryan Vargas, Rajah Caruth, and Nick Sanchez; all of whom will be driving in the Craftsman Truck and Xfinity Series 2023 season.
Hettinger is looking to join those drivers in the near future. Under NASCAR rules, she will not be able to drive on tracks longer than 1.25 miles until she is 18 and cannot drive in any of the three NASCAR Series until she is at least 16.
She has already made inroads into that goal by becoming a part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program and has made a couple of starts in the ARCA Series.
Speaking on driving in a couple of the ARCA races Hettinger said, “we did ARCA just for an experience standpoint. “I wanted to get my feet wet, and it was a lot of fun. The Young’s Motorsports guys worked hard on the cars, and I definitely learned a lot. Hopefully if there’s more ARCA races planned in the future, we’ll be a lot more prepared.”
Hettinger isn’t sure of exactly what team(s) she will be driving for in 2023 but is sure she will be on a track somewhere all season long…including Hickory Motor Speedway where she intends to increase the record.
“If you can see it, you can be it,” Hettinger said. Adding, “working hard is always the most important thing, and that’s what we’re going to do over the offseason. If you want to put the work in and are ready to do so, you can do anything.”
Feature photo credit: Black American Racers Association.jpg
Malcolm Durham, Leonard W. Miller, Wendell Scott, and Ronald Hines (l-r) of the Black American Racers Association