CHAMPCAR/CART: Rhonda Trammell looking to return

Rhonda Trammell looking to revitalize open wheel racing career. In the CART FedEx Championship Series, Rhonda Trammell is a familiar face. To ChampCar drivers, teams and regular participants, she is both a member of the CART Pace Car Team and...

Rhonda Trammell looking to revitalize open wheel racing career.

In the CART FedEx Championship Series, Rhonda Trammell is a familiar face. To ChampCar drivers, teams and regular participants, she is both a member of the CART Pace Car Team and the wife of world famous orthopedic surgeon Dr. Terry Trammell (www.motorsportsmd.com) who also is a member of the Simple Green CART Safety Team.

To the many corporate executives and guests who buckle-up into the passenger seat of her high performance pace car, her skills as a professional racing driver are seldom called to question.

"Each CART Pace Car Team member has earned recognition in various forms of racing," Trammell said. "In my karting days, we had a motorhome and my sister-in-law took care of the children when I was on the track or working on my kart. I did most of my own maintenance, engine tuning and set-ups. In between sessions I would go into the motorhome to nurse my daughter. There aren't too many guys who can say they ever did that!" She laughed.

Rhonda finished in the top five in the World Karting Championships that year. The following year, with two toddlers in tow, she won the 1989 WKA championship.

That same year Trammell was in a 250cc shifter kart race in Portland when someone in the CART paddock suggested she show her racing resume to Jim Chapman who was looking for qualified drivers for the PPG Pace Cars. She's been a member of the CART Pace Car Team ever since. "It sort of satisfies my appetite for speed but nothing really compares to going wheel to wheel in a series like the Atlantics or ChampCars. Even when I had to put my racing career on hold in the mid 90's, I kept my job as a driver for the CART Pace Car Team and drove a few celebrity Neon races when they fit into the schedule."

In 1992 she did Indy Lights rookie testing with Brian Stuart Racing where she was just two tenths off Nick Firestone's pace. "It would have been nice to pick up the ball where I left off but racing budgets for the Indy Lights were approaching a million dollars or more." She says, "I was able to put some things together for some Barber Dodge Pro Series races over the last few years but the Atlantics offer a much higher level of competition. When I see someone like Danica Patrick in the same boat I've been in, it seems we might be better pooling our resources to create a win-win opportunity for us and the sponsors. I'd like nothing better than be part of an all-female campaign in Toyota Atlantic's. Think of the attention it would bring to the series and the CART ladder system in general. I guess I'm sort of the veteran here, I handled the horsepower of the Indy Lights without any problem and I know every track we run CART pace cars on. The big question is if we can put anything together for some races this season."

Rhonda approaches her sponsors with honesty, straightforwardness, respect, and makes herself available on race weekends for any type of promotion or hospitality. Her advice to women in motorsports is to "live life to the fullest, pursue your dreams, and make your own opportunities."

Despite putting her career on hiatus while providing a stable environment for her son Rex, daughter Rachel, and a delightful relationship with husband Terry -- the fire within has not been extinguished. "Live today with regard for the future," she says. "Even though it's very difficult sometimes, don't give up, you might have to pause to regroup, but be persistent." Rhonda adds, "Yes, even if you have children, you can still do it! It just takes extra planning, plus!"

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About this article
Series Barber Pro , IndyCar
Drivers Rhonda Trammell , Danica Patrick