Shantel Kalika will be the only woman racing in the annual NASCAR Pinty’s Series on Wednesday at Wyant Group Raceway just outside Saskatoon.
The Prince Albert, Sask., racer said it’s definitely a challenge being a woman in a male-dominated sport, and being a female in the Canadian circuit is a big deal.
“Once I put my helmet on I just become one of them. We’re all the same, we’re just racers at the end of the day, and we want to go out there and compete,” Kalika said.
She said having her father Ben Busch in the sport helped her get started.
“I was just working in the shop … and then ended up us buying a truck for me and then I started in the Pro Truck division here at Wyant Group Raceway eight years ago,” Kalika said.
“It was something that our family always knew. I think mom was more hesitant throughout the whole thing … Mom wasn’t very pleased with it,” Kalika said jokingly.
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She describes herself as a very sportsmanlike driver.
“Every year since I’ve been racing that I can remember I’ve won the most sportsmanlike driver … but I’m going to take what’s mine and I’m competitive at heart so everything that I get in the vehicle I always want to get more and I always want to do my best and I always want to try my hardest,” Kalika said.
“I won a championship in 2016 in the Pro Truck series, I became the first female to win that championship … I came in second last year just shy and currently right now I’m sitting in first in my local points in the Sportsman division.”
The vehicle she’ll be racing is different compared to the one she is used to driving and adding to the challenge.
“Three-hundred and eighty horsepower is what I have in my other car. These ones here are going to be about 560 so a lot more difference there. It’s a bigger car, bigger tires, that kind of thing so with the high speeds, it’s going to be a lot faster pace then what I’m used to but I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Kalika said.
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She said many young girls have asked her about the sport and has this advice for them.
“Whether it’s your career or whether it’s a sport that you’re going to be in, always take that chance, always go to the route that’s not travelled. Don’t always go into the traditional, go into untraditional, and honestly great things can happen, you just got to set your mind to it and have some people behind you that can help you along the way,” Kalika said.
She added her continuation in the sport is very dependent on financial sponsorship.
“Being a female in a male sport I’ll call it, she definitely gets the attention of sponsors of race fans, things like that, so I believe if we can have a good race for this western swing that I’m hoping the phone is going to ring and she gets that call to do a few more,” Busch said.