With the admission of “racing is in my DNA,” Erin Crocker announced her return to the track, with WIX® Filters as her sponsor. Team WIX will sponsor Crocker in seven POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series races in 2013, as well as the 2014 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.
“I went to the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Oklahoma in January of this year,” Crocker said. “As soon as I was at the race with all of the excitement, I immediately wanted to be a part of it again.”
Although she was attending the race as a spectator, Crocker was convinced by a few compatriots to just sit in one of the race cars. And that was all it took for her passion to reignite.
“Once I did that, it was over,” Crocker said. “As soon as I got back from the race I started making plans to get back in racing.”
Crocker most definitely has the dates of January 14th to January 18th, 2014 circled on next year’s calendar when she will race in the Chili Bowl herself with WIX as primary sponsor.
“I love being at the Chili Bowl,” Crocker said. “It is one of the best events for short-track racing and it is at a perfect time of year – in January – when most racing is in the offseason.”
“I’m really excited to race in the next Chili Bowl,” Crocker continued. “I ran it once about ten years ago and it was the only time I’ve raced a dirt midget.”
“It was the Saturday night, local track atmosphere that I’ve been around for so long and I feel like the people are my family,” Crocker said. “I will have great equipment and sponsorship behind me so I will have a full team of support.”
Before the Chili Bowl, however, Crocker will be perfecting her craft by racing her No. 98 WIX Filters midget in POWRi races all over the mid-west for the rest of the year.
“I am thrilled to get back in the driver’s seat with the Team WIX program that embraces the American tradition of grassroots racing,” Crocker said. “When I spend time at the race track, my passion for racing is renewed.”
“Partnering with Team WIX allows me to focus on my racing roots and get back to what I love.”
WIX® Filters is also thrilled to have Erin Crocker back in the sport representing their brand.
“WIX has a deep heritage with hometown racers, teams and local tracks as part of Team WIX program,” Mike Harvey, brand manager for WIX Filters, said. “Erin embodies what a true, grassroots racer is through her childhood, passion and love for racing.”
“We are proud to partner with her as she makes her comeback behind the wheel and fuels her passion as part of Team WIX.”
Although Crocker is thrilled to return to her place behind the wheel, her husband, former crew chief now ESPN analyst Ray Evernham, has expressed his own reservations.
“Ray is a little nervous about me racing again,” Crocker admitted. “We’ve been around midgets and sprint cars a lot and I think he would feel better if I was in a stock car with more body around me.”
“I took a bad tumble a few years ago in Knoxville and went over the guardrail and Ray was about 30 feet from it and he didn’t like that too much,” Crocker continued. “But he supports what I want to do and is letting me take the lead.”
Although Crocker has earned many awards throughout her career, from Female Driver of the Year awards from 1993 to 1995, as well as being the first woman to qualify for the Knoxville Nationals in 2003, she acknowledged that she will face challenges as she returns to the track.
“I don’t have a ton of experience racing midgets,” Crocker said. “I have a lot of dirt, sprint car experience with a wing on the top so it will take time getting used to driving without a wing on the car.”
“The horsepower won’t be anything too crazy for me because it is a little less than the sprint cars.”
Although Crocker is competitive and, of course, wants to win, she is also trying to manage her own expectations as she returns to racing.
“I’m a race car driver so I can’t help but have expectations,” Crocker said. “I’m sure I’ll adjust my expectations as I go.”
“I don’t’ know what to expect, but I always expect to win,” Crocker continued. “If you go to the track thinking anything else, you won’t be successful.”
“In my mind, I’d like to make the A-main, which is hard to do and an accomplishment itself,” Crocker said. “I’m the only woman who has qualified for the Knoxville Nationals A-main, which is the biggest event for winged sprint cars, and I’d like to have a similar accomplishment in midget racing.”
In spite of needing to knock the rust off, Crocker is very much looking forward to all of the sights, sounds and smells of the racing environment.
“I’m looking forward to the feeling back behind the wheel with the pedal to the floor and the smell of methanol fumes and just the adrenaline of the racing competition,” Crocker said. “It almost doesn’t feel right when I’m not racing, which is why I’ve come in and out of retirement a few times.”
“There is no better accomplishment than coming off a feature event knowing you’ve driven the wheels off the car.”
Crocker also admits that she will enjoy adding another female back into the ranks of racing, particularly since she was one of the initial women drivers in the NASCAR arena.
“I’m always flattered when people say I helped pioneer women in racing because it was never really my intention,” Crocker said. “I just grew up around it and it is something I love.”
“To know that I’ve helped other females is an honor, and it is also an honor if I can be a role model or an example for a young girl coming up in racing.”
“I grew up with a lot of females that raced quarter midgets,” Crocker said. “As we got older, most girls weren’t pushed into racing and went off to college.”
“In the higher levels of racing, I’ve seen the numbers change and it is more acceptable and there are more women in racing,” Crocker continued. “But there is also still a lot of room for improvement.”
“There is always interest and attention on women drivers but you need to attract people who truly believe in you to be successful,” Crocker said. “Danica Patrick is the best example now of having that support but I’d like to see more women get that chance as well.”
Crocker will indeed get her chance as a female driver back at the track and behind the wheel. Her first race with Team WIX will be in the POWRi races in Bloomington, Indiana on June 28th.