When Naeville McClafferty, a 17-year-old from Glendale, N.C., sits in the driver’s seat of her Subaru BRZ, she might not think of herself as a girl who knows how to drive. She might consider herself a race car driver who knows how to win.
She entered a three-car invitational race a week ago at Thompson International Raceway in Raleigh, N.C., in the Late Model race class. She finished in second place, just behind the leader at the time.
She had to sit out all the practice laps before the race to fulfill her curfew, but once she was allowed to go out on the track, she soared.
“She had this huge smile,” said her dad, Chris McClafferty. “I think that was something she always wanted to do, and finally she got to see if she was ready. She got to sit in her car, and she was all business out there, and that’s what you have to do. You have to do what the guys are doing.”
McClafferty spent three days racing at Thompson, in the bag queen’s and some stock car classes. She also spent two days in Murfreesboro, Tenn., in the late model race class, winning there on her way to a $500 payday for finishing second.
“I’m very excited,” McClafferty said in a release. “This has been a dream of mine since I started racing.”
The idea for McClafferty to race came to her after she decided she wanted to make money after high school to help fund the expense of traveling to race. Her father and stepmother, Cynthia and her brother, Evan, encouraged her to begin racing.
Now, McClafferty is among 10 underclassmen in the upcoming Reckless Kid Series event on March 19 at Thompson, along with her teammates at Haw River Racing School, Chac Landrum and Kyle Kitchel.
“She’s competing now with the guys,” her dad said. “She has the same raw talent, and we think the sky is the limit for her.”
McClafferty is not alone. Rookies continue to dominate in America’s largest off-road sports car series, and today’s women are proving they are at least equal to the boys.
In its 16th year, the Reckless Kid Series regularly fields female racers, and more and more frequently their gains are coming in the lead role.