This Week in Ford Racing July 26, 2005 USAC Ford Focus Midget Series Alison MacLeod, a 16-year-old who is part of Ford Racing's Female Driver Development Program, won her first 50-lap Ford Focus Midget Feature last Thursday night at the ...
This Week in Ford Racing
July 26, 2005
USAC Ford Focus Midget Series
Alison MacLeod, a 16-year-old who is part of Ford Racing's Female Driver Development Program, won her first 50-lap Ford Focus Midget Feature last Thursday night at the Indianapolis Speedrome, in just her fourth Focus Midget Race. Alison talks about the transition from kart racing to midgets, and about working with driving coach Bob East.
Alison MacLeod - No. 4 Ford Racing Ford Focus Midget
How has the transiton been to the Focus Midget, comiNg from your background in karting? "The Indianapolis Speedrome is a great track to transition from karts to midgets. Even though I'm racing a car, it's still the same concept as a kart. It's late braking. It's hard braking then rolling into the gas from the exit of the corner. That part was easy for me to pick up. What takes getting used to is the larger tires; it's a whole different feel, but with Bob East it's pretty easy to get a hold of. Bob makes it pretty easy to understand what I'm feeling. That makes it a whole lot easier for me."
TALK ABOUT HOW YOU WORK WITH BOB EAST ON SETTING UP THE CAR. "Usually, I go out and make some runs in the car then come back and give Bob feedback on how the car is handling, and he makes adjustments. I go out and make some practice runs for about 10 laps and then I will come back in and tell him what I think it's doing. Bob will tell me what he sees and we'll figure out what the car is actually doing, since I am not used to the complete set-up of the car and how it's supposed to handle. If I say it's tight and he sees that it's tight, then we're fine. If I say it's pushing on entry and he sees that I'm entering the corner too high or too low, then we don't change anything and just try a different line. It makes it a lot easier starting out with someone that knows what they are doing than if I had started on my own."
When you ran karts, was that strictly on karting tracks or did you have any experience on an oval? "I ran one oval in a kart when I was around eight, just for fun. The main difference from karting is, number one, I had to get used to being strapped in. Because, in karts, if you flip, they want you to fly out. So being strapped in and working with my arms and shoulders is new. I've been working on a certain set of muscles my entire life for karting and now I have to switch that. The second thing that's different is my height off the ground. In karting you're less than an inch off the ground, but in a Focus Midget it's more like a foot and a half."
How many tracks have you run in the Focus Midget? "I've tested at Anderson Speedway twice. The banking of Anderson was something completely new to me and something I had not experienced in karting. I had a lot of help from Bob there. With Anderson you have to go into the corner and hope that the banking catches you. I was braking a lot when we first tested there but we eventually got rid of that."
Compare driving a banked track like Anderson to a flat track like the Speedrome? "On a flat track like the Speedrome you're using the brakes and the speed to run a line, but on a banked track like Anderson you go into the turn harder and let the banking catch you. It's a completely different feeling. The first time I drove Anderson I told myself 'I don't think I can do this, I don't think I can do this.' But I eventually got it."
Talk about your first Ford Focus win last Thursday night at the Speedrome? "I finished second in the first heat. That second place actually gave us a little scare. We were really fast and the car was handling perfectly, so we were saying, 'Ok, Ok.' We started on outside pole for the feature. I got a good jump on the start and from there just tried to hit my marks every lap. Bob East had the car set up so well that I barely had to do anything."
ARE YOU still running some karting events in Canada this year? "Yes, I'm still running karts as much as I can. I run in a class called Senior Light and Senior Heavy with a 6.5 horsepower engine. Next week is probably my most confusing week because it's the Ontario Nationals in Canada for Karting. So I'll be there on Wednesday practicing my kart then Thursday we drive to Indianapolis to race the Focus Midget at the Speedrome then we will drive back on Friday. Then I race Saturday and Sunday in the kart. It will be a busy schedule next week. We're just doing as much as we can, just trying to keep racing anything and everything. My dad still likes running the kart as a family. He's the man in charge. He has to take second place to Bob East when we are down in Indy, but the likes to have something to work on when we come back. But the main target this year is on the Focus Midget."