The SCCA Women on Track (WoT) initiative is exactly what it sounds like – a program driven to get more women involved in motorsports. Though its association with the SCCA Foundation, SCCA Women on Track works to provide financial support to women looking to get more involved in their favored aspect of motorsports – and this year, SCCA Women on Track did exactly that, quite literally putting a new female driver on a racetrack.
One of the several SCCA Women on Track scholarships for 2022 went to Amanda Haines, who was presented a scholarship for an SCCA Driver’s School to aid her journey into SCCA Road Racing.
Haines had a solid SCCA background, beginning with an autocross in 2017 and evolving into a hill climb corner worker, timing assistant, registrar and, eventually, a driver. Especially following a Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack event at Pittsburgh International Race Complex (Pitt Race) earlier this summer, Haines was more than ready to dive into road racing with the Steel Cities Region Driver’s School this past August.
“Pitt Race is my home track, only being an hour away from home in Bethel Park,” Haines said. “My support line in the form of other race friends is here in the Pittsburgh area as well, so diving into road racing was always going to start here. My boyfriend, Matt, has been planning since the spring to attend this Driver’s School as well, so the stars sort of aligned when SCCA Women on Track notified me I’d been selected for the scholarship.”
There was only one flaw in the stars aligning – Matt already had dibs on the Honda Civic Si. Luckily, Region cheerleader and SCCA staffer Dan Dennehy-Rodriguez was standing by to loan his Volkswagen Rabbit race car to complete the school.
With the lone hurdle out of the way, it was time to get to work.
The SCCA Driver’s School was held during the Steel Cities Region End of Summer Showcase in August 2022, featuring most of the Region’s offerings – Tire Rack Time Trials National Tour Powered by Hagerty, Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack, autocross, RoadRally, a Divisional road race and, of course, the Driver’s School.
Finally on Track
“The school was intense and challenging,” Haines said. “It was essentially driving a full weekend road race event, but tacking on a multiple-choice knowledge exam. In our initial classroom session, the instructors told us we would be on sensory overload – and that proved true both days. I’m not going to lie, I was utterly exhausted when I got home Saturday evening after completion of the school. I was telling everyone I’m going to need to start a serious exercise routine to stay in shape for this!”
But with Haines’s experience, how helpful was the Driver’s School?
“I had a couple things surprise me, honestly,” she said. “First, was how much more aware I became on track and how much the car became an extension of me. I attribute that to how much seat time and guidance I had throughout the school and the necessity of being completely responsive to everything going on around me from the flagging stations to the track to the other cars, and then of course my own car. The sensory overload warning from the instructors was no joke.
“The other surprise was how different the challenges of driving are between road racing and hill climbing. This is a whole different category of adrenaline. The idea of wheel-to-wheel racing was a little scary for me at first, and the Driver’s School gave me the tools and confidence I needed to take that fear and turn it into respect and grit.”
Most importantly, the SCCA Women on Track initiative did its job. The scholarship was the boost Haines needed to launch the road racing element of her motorsports journey.
“The truth is, I wouldn’t have been able to register for the SCCA Driver’s School in 2022, and possibly not for another year or so,” she admitted. “It’s been no secret that racing funds have been tight this year. The cost of gas, food, bills, and everything else turned what’s usually a racing-packed summer into us picking and choosing a few events. I’ve only been able to do two hill climbs and a Track Night. When I learned about the SCCA Women on Track scholarship, I had everything to gain. It was an opportunity to step into this exciting, new-for-me racing alongside some great friends.”
SCCA Women on Track plans to continue awarding scholarships into 2023 and beyond. For the latest information, check out SCCA WoT’s page on SCCA.com, as well as the WoT Facebook page.
A Partnership with SCCA Foundation
Many scholarships distributed by SCCA Women on Track are funded in association with the SCCA Foundation.
The SCCA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that helps fund programs like SCCA Women on Track, SCCA Archives, Howard Duncan ProSolo Greenlight Fund, Tire Rack Street Survival Teen Driving Schools, VETMotorsports, Formula SAE, and more, and is made possible through generous donations by SCCA members, Regions, and sponsors.
Tax deductible donations to the SCCA Foundation can be made through the Foundation’s website where, if desired, donations can be earmarked for specific programs.
Photo by Dan Dennehy-Rodriguez