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ROCKET TALK: Raised on Race Cars

Our first Maritime League of Legends race of the year was one for the books. I’m a little more conscious of keeping the team in two solid pieces for the first weekend. Running the outside, I was happy to have kept even with Danny Harvey coming out of the second turn. Then, who in the hell, here comes Adam, diving through the middle of us, making it three wide. First lap, second corner. Really?!

Written by Emily Meehan/Feature Photo by McCarthy Photographic

As a first time “blogger”, I’m sitting here wondering what in the world I am supposed to be writing about, but I guess we can start with a little introduction.

My name is Emily Meehan, some of you know me personally, most know me simply as the girl that races legends cars and I’m sure plenty of you don’t even know I exist.

Though both my brother and I have been racing for an established period of time, Meehan Racing and its history did not start with us. My dad David Meehan, or I’m sure known by many of you as “The Rawdon Rocket,” started racing pony cars in the 70s at tracks around Nova Scotia including Atlantic Speedway and Onslow Speedway. He was known to “put his nose where it shouldn’t have fit and make the rest of his car follow,” creating a successful, reputable and exciting career.

Dad finally threw in the towel in the mid-80s, before us kids were born and patiently waited as he watched the three of us grow, hoping he had passed his love for racing onto at least one of his children. Steve McNeil always had a hunch I would become the first, as soon as I was old enough to hold a conversation he would sneak his belief into my ear, “this girl is going to be a race car driver!”

He finally got the chance to get back into the sport in 2005 when Darrin Butcher purchased the first Bandolero from Ontario and brought it back to Nova Scotia. I can barely remember showing up to the track and seeing a small trailer towed behind a truck, a group of men and this little red car with the roof flipped up. Little did I or my mother know, but my dad had brought me there to try it out.

After confirming that a then very small and quiet Cole Butcher didn’t mind me getting into his car, I instantly fell in love with the IDEA of driving fast. I could barely touch the pedals or see out of the windshield, but the potential was there.

Fast forward a couple weeks of convincing my mother, saving my change in a mayonnaise jar and watching the Bandolero division race at Scotia Speedworld multiple times, we headed to R&D Performancentre in Truro where Brian Northrup rented us a very bright yellow Bandolero. I raced that car for a couple weeks until our new car arrived, and the rest is history.

I raced for five years in the Bandolero, being a part of the “First 9,” a part of the duo of first female drivers, first roll-over and I’m sure the list goes on but Tim Terry is the Stats guy, not me. I was able to get some solid wins under my belt, good placing in points and a whole load of confidence that I didn’t have five years prior when I first started.

Not only did Bandoleros teach “us kids” how to drive, it taught us how to be responsible for our own success, to be able to speak respectfully to our sponsors, our fans, and our track staff. Sure, I don’t know who I’m talking to a lot of the time, but I know they are a fan of racing, a friend of my dad’s or a long time racer who just wants to know how your car is handling that day. The ability to communicate efficiently, which I learned from racing, has gotten me through my high school, university and occupational careers so far in life, and I’m sure many young racers can say the same.

Next to arrive on the Meehan Racing scene was my brother Adam. He worked as a crew member for my entire Bandolero career, simply put because my mother wouldn’t let us race on the track at the same time. If you don’t know my mother, she’s the worry wort that can’t decide whether to be terrified or proud at any point during a race night, like most moms, am I right? But once I moved to Legends he was able to jump into Bandos and he quickly caught up and surpassed his big sister on the track. He dominated his Bandolero career and has established himself in the Legend field as an up and coming young gun.

Now that you know a little bit about myself and my team, I’m going to delve into a recap of our first two weeks of the season.

The 2017 Season

Week #1, as for most of us small race teams began about five days before the first race, pulling long days and late nights to put the cars together that you had promised yourself would be worked on all winter. Our first weekend was a double header, which I personally love because you get back into the swing of things full force. But, you also have the potential to rebuild a car in one night if anything was to go astray.

Our first Maritime League of Legends Tour race was one for the books. I started up front along side Danny Harvey and I had the comfortable cushion of Adam being a couple cars back. I’m a little more conscious of keeping the team in two solid pieces for the first weekend, continue on for exhibit A. Running the outside, I was happy to have kept even with Danny coming out of the second turn, then, “who in the hell…”, here comes Adam, diving through the middle of us, making it three wide. First lap, second corner. Really?! Oh, but “he knew I’d let off, because it was him.” This was his reasoning, and of course he was right, I ease off and he’s gone.

Photo by Mike Francis/Racin’ Photos

The car was on rails, he worked hard all winter, and it was quickly showing. After a close maneuver around a stray lap car, I was back a couple positions fighting with the crowd for the rest of the race, finishing fifth. Adam, however, battled hard during the last laps to bring home his first win in the Legend division, proud sister!

Day Two brought us back inside the pit gates at Scotia Speedworld to start the Weekly Series off. In classic Scotia Speedworld fashion, the sun was out, but it was windy and freezing, colder than the day before. We continued to tweak the cars all day and started the feature a couple rows back.

The top eight were solid, minus our race leader who checked out early on. We had side by side racing up front for the entire feature. Near the end a couple lap cars being placed up front after a caution mixed it up, but not to my advantage, nor disadvantage. Adam finished 5th, and I brought it home in 7th. Our team would consider this a major success, two cars being unloaded into the shop in one piece after a double hitter, not even a bumper needing replaced. Plus the first win of the season was under the belt.

We took a week off between races due to Monster Jam and we once again left our preparation to the last couple days, we work well under pressure, or so we tell ourselves.

We return to Scotia Speedworld for a long night of racing last Friday. Our first heat took about 45 minutes to complete, including two cars dumping oil on the track and a nice long red flag. Being religious to my pre-race routine, I stayed strapped in for the entire fiasco, which my bladder was not a huge fan of. Anyone else get the pre-race nervous bladder?!

Once we got out for the heat race I started outside pole, until the car beside me had some mechanical issues during warm up laps, leaving me to move over to the pole. I didn’t stay there long, the track was still slick from oil, and I’m not the girl to be chucking it in on the line of wrecking in a heat race, so I battled around top three until the final laps where the beloved engine bobble appeared. Now, if my father had of been in my ear, he would have said drive it till it blows. But, once again, my cautious side decided to let off a little earlier in the corners and not become the third car to let oil out in our set of heat races.

Feature time rolls around, and we had thought that my battery had gone bad and charging it during the break should solve the issue.

I made it to lap four.

Photo by McCarthy Photographic

Car was perfect, I was moving forward and was coming out of turn two after the first caution when I bogged out, the entire field behind me and the lights fade off. Isn’t that everyone’s favorite place to be? I dove down low and coasted into the infield to await a push back to the pit. Like any two-car team, we left the #75 car parked in the stall and return to the fence to watch Adam in the feature.

Week three is quickly approaching and we are currently figuring out my electrical issues and preparing for a long weekend ahead. Meehan Racing will be racing at Scotia Speedworld on Friday, heading to Petty International Raceway on Saturday to be crew and/or cheerleaders for Butcher Racing, where most of our team will continue on to Oxford Plains Speedway on Sunday to do the same.

So, there you have it, like many others in the Maritimes I was raised on race cars from the age of 10, it has taken over my family’s summer life for 12 years, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m still completely unsure if this is what was expected from me, but if Tim’s Corner is approving, I will be back to share my opinions on the celebrations, struggles and interesting topics that I find myself a part of over a summer of racing with you.

See you all at the track!

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