Fast Track to Fame has been one wild ride, to say the least. We received nearly 1,000 applications from extremely talented drivers from all over the country. But the votes have been cast, and the four finalists are in.
Morgan Ward is nothing short of a rock star. Growing up in Watertown, S.D., she was introduced to racing at only four months old. Now, at the age of 26, she is living her dream of racing modifieds full-time in the ultra-competitive WISSOTA Modified division. We chatted with Morgan to get to know her and find out what kind of racer she really is. Keep reading to decide if Morgan has your vote.
When did you realize you wanted to be a professional racer?
Well, when I was little, my dad brought me to the race track. I’ve always wanted to race a car. It just took me so long to convince him to get me a race car. After we started traveling more, I started experiencing what it’s like being a race car driver, and all these opportunities that you have in the racing world. There’s just something about racing, and I know there’s a lot of people that know the feeling. Something about it just has me hooked, and I would love to be able to drive professionally in the dirt world, just to show everybody that it’s possible if you put your mind to it.
What do you owe your racing success to?
I owe my success to my father. My father is the one who got me started in racing and he’s the one who showed me and taught me what it takes to be a race car driver. And also my family. I have two sisters and a mother, and they support me and my crazy hobby. They’re there through the good and bad. So I’d have to say my entire family.
You mentioned spending time in the garage with your dad as a child in your entry form. What about being in the garage piqued your interest?
It got me excited. All these people that put in their time, their effort, their money, their sweat, their tears, to be able to make a race car go around the race track for only two minutes, you know? So being in the shop, just being next to my dad and having my sister there and my mom, that was our family time together. We didn’t go on many vacations. Our vacations were at the race track, and they started in the shop.
How has being a woman in the racing industry played a role in your career?
It’s been difficult. There’s an expectation that I feel I’m supposed to meet by being a girl. It’s made me push harder for my dreams. It’s made me want to show everybody that just because I’m a girl, that does not mean I can’t race. I’ve heard things like, “Girls aren’t supposed to race.” Yes we are. We can. You just don’t see it often. If you’re willing to put in the time and the effort, you can do whatever you want. So Valvoline has pushed me even harder to prove to people that girls can do anything they put their minds to.
What was your reaction when you found out you were a Fast Track To Fame finalist?
I was shocked. I saw this contest on the internet and I registered. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try so I got people to vote and then next thing you know I got a call that I was being considered a potential finalist. I was honored to even be considered that far. Then when they called to let me know I had made the finalist round, it was a rollercoaster of a day. I had just lost a family member, my brother-in-law. When I got that call, I thought there’s a reason why on this day, right now, they called me and told me I’m a finalist. I was honored, I was shocked, and I was very emotional.
What’s something that you want your fans to know about you?
I might not have the best racing background, but my family is my racing background. My father races and my sister married into a racing family, so I race against not only my father but against my brother-in-law, and his father, and then his brother-in-law. I put my heart and my soul into racing because of my family. I want people to know that I am a family person, and I love my fans because my fans are my family.
If you’re able to win Fast Track to Fame, what are your plans for the prize?
Well, I have convinced my father that I get to pick where we get to race for one entire weekend, because we’re a racing team and I follow where he goes. I want to mark off a couple bucket list race tracks. I know that with this money I could pay for the fuel to get there. And I know it’ll help with racing.
Are there any individuals who have inspired you along the way, and how have they helped you?
I have quite a few. I grew up watching a lot of races, and now I race against who I idolized growing up. I was their fan. They were a famous person to me. Like Kent Arment, who’s a national champ around here in WISSOTA. They’ve known me since I was a little girl and now they treat me like a true race car driver. They’ll give me tips like, “Enter the corner this way,” or, “You should try it this way.” David McDonald, Jeff Wilding, Curt Gelling. So I have a lot of people that I idolize, especially my dad.
When you’re not on the track, how are you spending your time?
I work at a place called Joy Ranch in Florence, S.D. It’s a disability church camp. I’m their office manager. I plan events and I get to spend a lot of time with youth and adults with disabilities at this camp. And now with summer here, we have lots of summer camps happening. So I’m very, very busy outside the race track, but that’s my 8-to-5 job, and as soon as 5:00 rolls around, I’m right back in the race car shop.
Do you have any advice for amateur racers who are hoping to make this into a career?
Never give up. Regardless of how your season’s going or how your night went, or how your week is. Never give up. Always remember that there’s another race the next day, or there’s another race the following weekend, and there’s always people watching. So never give up and always realize that even on your worst days, there’s probably a kid out there that thinks you’re the greatest. You’re their star.
iRacing, Speedway Motors, One on One Brand, and Valvoline are proud sponsors of grassroots racing. Help us choose who has what it takes to be the next champion of American racing by voting today!