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Winnipeg woman close to racing NASCAR

WINNIPEG — She’s fast, she’s gunning for NASCAR and she could be one of the only Canadian women to make it there.

Amber Balcaen was the only Canadian to be invited to this year’s NASCAR diversity tryout in Virginia.

“I’m a pretty girly girl, I like to wear makeup and wear dresses and everything, but once I put that helmet on, it’s like ‘swoosh’ — different person,” said Balcaen.

Twenty drivers were recently chosen from hundreds across North America to test their skills on the world stage, with a chance to join Rev Racing’s team on one of NASCAR’s lower circuits.

“That was my first time on pavement so that was interesting to be in a different car on a different track,” said Balcaen.

Up until now, the Winnipegger has only raced on dirt tracks.

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That could soon change. If she earns a spot on the team, Balcaen will start racing full-time in North Carolina in a NASCAR-sanctioned series in January.

She is also crowdfunding to test an ARCA car at this year’s Daytona International Raceway.

And she won’t be the first one in her family to strap on a helmet. Both her father and grandfather were race car drivers.

“Her deal is totally different. It’s a whole new style,” said Lou Kennedy, her grandfather.

Balcaen’s inspiration, Danica Patrick, drives her to succeed and she hopes to motivate young Canadian girls in the same way.

“To me, apart from driving a car, that’s just the greatest feeling having these little girls come up to me and say that they look up to me,” said Balcaen.

Just like she looks up to the female drivers she hopes to compete against one day soon.