Over the last two decades Mark and Wendi Allen have been fixtures on the Nationals Solo Scene. In the last three years, however, Solo has taken a back seat to Wendi’s battle with cancer, a battle that is approaching a tragic ending. As the Allen’s cope, their attention has come back the SCCA and to the fulfillment of Wendi’s wish to give back to the community and sport that she so dearly loves.
For Wendi, Solo began in 1991 with Mark riding along to tell her when to put in the clutch and to changing the gears for her. She finished third that day and despite not being a particularly competitive person by nature, was hooked. It was just 3 years later than Wendi burst onto the national stage with a ProSolo class win in Toledo, besting some of the best female drivers in the country with her MR2 Turbo. That win would put Wendi on the BFGoodrich team and change the way the Allen’s approached the sport.
The competitive streak in Wendi was starting to emerge, and to feed it, she asked Mark to become her coach. The two became intensely focused on the sport, competing every weekend, traveling extensively and pushing each other to be the best. Wendi idolized drivers like Stacey Rietmier and Renee Eady and knew she would have to be pushed to keep up with them. For Mark and Wendi, it was Team Allen, pushing each other to reach the top together.
In that phase, Wendi vowed to never miss a Solo Nationals. She maintained a perfect streak from 1994 until 2005 when pregnancy with twin girls sidelined her. Sidelining Wendi was something cancer could not do, however as she competed in 2012, taking a G-Stock Ladies National Championship in her final appearance. Sensing that it may be her last, Wendi worked for months to gain the strength to compete and win one more time. In total, Wendi competed at Solo Nationals 16 times, claiming 8 National Championships and twelve total trophies. Wendi also found tremendous success in the ultra competitive ProSolo Ladies classes, highlighted by the Overall ProSolo Ladies Championship in 1999.
Wendi’s daughters, Cassidy and Caitlyn, have just turned 8, and under dad’s watchful eye, are setting out to follow in mom’s footsteps. The duo, in matching red and blue karts, had their rookie event a few weeks ago in Formula Junior and by all reports, had a blast.
It is not just her daughters, however, that Wendi is concerned with. Over the years, as is the case for so many, enduring friendships were created for the Allens. Wendi counts Soloists among her closest friends, particularly the female competitors who were adversaries on course but allies in grid. It is from this love of the sport and its participants that Mark and Wendi decided to do something to give back.
Through a number of personal experiences, Wendi has first hand awareness of how tough it can be to make it in any form of motorsports as a female. For Wendi, her success in the sport is linked to the support of her husband, but she is also mindful that not all female drivers will have that kind of support. So she has asked to support in her own way, a program to help aspiring female drivers to get to events, compete and develop as both drivers and members of our community.
To do this, The Wendi Allen Scholarship Fund has been formed and will utilize a selection committee made up of championship caliber female competitors to identify and assist up-and-coming female drivers. Two scholarship winners will be selected each season. The support for these recipients is not limited to financial backing, however as the program seeks to offer driver training, mentoring and event logistic assistance as well. For the Allen’s, it is a way to ensure that the legacy Wendi most wishes to leave in the sport is maintained.
In talking about the opportunity to contribute, Mark shared the family’s thoughts. "It is an honor to be able to support National caliber up-and-coming young women in SCCA competition through a racing scholarship program in her name. Wendi most of all doesn’t want to be forgotten. I think this will be something that will brighten her remaining time knowing she will be supporting young-women like herself that want to enjoy SCCA Solo2 sports. She misses all of her friends she has made racing. She looked forward to helping out with timing every year at nationals, she felt like she was part of the team. She also always appreciated the Solo community’s effort in working so hard to provide such quality events that allowed her to enjoy the sport we all love."