When B/R Nation was introduced to 20-year-old Caitlin Shaw, she was reeling in her race weekend at O'Reilly Raceway Park last July.
She was enthusiastic and grateful about her NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut behind the wheel of the No. 1 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra.
Placing a respectable 24th position, Shaw earned valuable on-track experience, learning the feel of the truck as well as honing her communication skills to her team in the pits. She finished the race with knowledge and experience that would surely improve in her next race.
However, that next race has been something of a long wait. Shaw's search for a CWTS team has been tough, with sponsorship being the determining factor as to who she'll drive for this season.
The talent is undeniably there, but it's all about sponsorship dollars and finding the team who'll invest wisely with this amazing young racer.
Racing is in her blood and it's what she knows best. Also, she understands just how wonderful it is to win as well as the hard work that is invested into having a successful venture in this sport, having worked her way up the ranks from quarter midgets to stock car racing.
Some of NASCAR's greats had their share of struggles before finding their true combination of chemistry and success. David Green, a notable Nationwide Series racer, had a promising rookie campaign in 1991, only to go through the entire '92 season without a ride.
Green kept a steady, open eye in NASCAR despite a year away from the cockpit, serving as a mechanic for Bobby Labonte's No. 44 Slim Jim Chevrolet. With a runner-up finish in the championship chase, Labonte would reward the Kentucky native's persistence and dedication by offering the seat to him in the '94 season.
How does the 1994 NASCAR Nationwide Series title sound to you?
Certainly the sport was under different circumstances, but the inspiration and hope factors are still around. Understanding the economic hardships, she has kept her presence known through the online media as a member of Race 2 Win radio, becoming quite the savvy personality since her NASCAR debut seven months ago.
With a very outgoing personality that can be described as friendly, hospitable, and genuine, Shaw has all the qualities that sponsors want to enter the racing scene. Keeping a close contact with fans and the media, Shaw often updates her Twitter account to talk to family, friends, and the world about racing and other interesting happenings in her life.
Just as her online radio station's name is called, Shaw's message to teams and sponsors who want to go NASCAR racing in 2010 is simple: race to win. It's just a matter of a team and sponsor knowing they're going to have a true prospect who's game to become a superstar for years to come.
I interviewed Shaw this past week to follow-up on how she's been doing since her debut race at ORP last July. Even with the time away from the driver's seat, she still has that friendly demeanour and wide-eyed determination to race.
Along the way, she's also become quite the jokester (or prognosticator), as you'll see when I asked her to predict this year's Daytona 500.
Enjoy getting to know Caitlin Shaw once more, and be sure to listen to her show with Jeff Holtzclaw, Heather Meyer, and Blake Feese every Thursday from 1-3 P.M. EDT at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/race2win!
Rob Tiongson: You've become quite the media personality since the interview back in August, co-hosting a program for Race 2 Win radio. How's that experience been like—interviewing various racing figures in the past months?
Caitlin Shaw: I've always been interested in the public relations and communications side of the industry, so I'm very lucky that I received the co-host position with Race 2 Win Radio.
It's been exciting, and an outstanding learning experience. The main thing I have learned being on the show is to be concise with my questions to relay them in a quick manner. I'm looking for as many communications positions like that as I can to develop my skills in that industry in addition to the competitive side of the sport.
I have also received other opportunities to learn more about communications with Sirius/MRN in Concord (NC). Kyle Rickey allowed me to come in for a day and learn how all of the podcasts and shows get produced and what goes on behind the scenes at their company.
I got to see how they edit their news clips and actually help out on one of their live shows—it was a neat experience.
The most fun I have had conducting an interview has probably been over the winter. Jeff, Heather, and I, with Race 2 Win Radio, interviewed Kyle Petty about his new show and he was so energetic, and one of the most genuine people I've ever had the opportunity to interview.
On the radio, I gained a lot of respect for his skill in engaging our audience. One of my new goals is to interview as well as he did on our December episode.
RT: How goes the sponsor and team search? Are there any teams out there sending any offers to you to drive for them?
CS: I have talked with a few teams in the off season. I am going to attempt to compete in as many NCWTS events as I can in 2010, but it is all sponsorship-based at this point.
RT: Last month at Daytona, there were 10 notable female racers testing in anticipation for the ARCA Re/Max season opener next month. What'd you think about that, and did you keep track of any particular driver?
CS: It's very exciting that large numbers of women are finally getting into top ranks of motorsports.
RT: Getting back to your race back last July with Red Horse Racing, what was perhaps the biggest adjustment you had to make driving a heavy stock truck chassis from the national midgets and open wheel vehicles you raced in most of your life?
CS: Transitioning from the USAC National Midgets to the trucks was quite an adjustment, but I was lucky that I had everyone at Toyota to help me make the transition.
The engineers really helped me make the adjustments I needed to my truck. I believe the biggest difference were my braking points on the track, and allowing the truck to roll through the center more than in the national midgets.
RT: How have your studies been in your sophomore year of college? Enjoying the classes and experiences so far?
CS: My sophomore year of college has been a great experience. My Business Communications class really taught me a lot, and my teacher's husband works for SPEED so it was interesting to get her perspective on the sport through her husband, Pete.
I am majoring in Business with a concentration in Marketing, which is something I am really enthusiastic about. I love marketing and communications and hope to stay involved in those industries as I continue to go forward in my career.
I actually have received the opportunity to work in the Marketing department at Michael Waltrip Racing for the semester, and that has been a beneficial learning experience for me to see how their company operates.
I help out a lot with sponsor services and occasional public relations tasks, but I'm enjoying every minute of the position.
RT: What are some of your options for 2010? Are you considering driving an ARCA entry or competing in the late model ranks in the short-term?
CS: I have looked at competing in a few of the USAC National Midget events that come to North Carolina and Indiana this year, but I am mostly focusing my sponsorship efforts towards competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series ranks.
RT: Being one of the handful of drivers who have a Twitter, what's it been like to have nearly instant communication with fellow media members and fans across the world?
CS: Twitter is one of the best marketing tools I use. It's low-cost, high-return and I love the instant communication with fans and media. I recently had a New Year's give-away from my Twitter account (@CaitlinShaw) and two people from very different parts of the country both received autographed fan packs.
I think my favorite part of Twitter is interacting with people that I normally would not have the opportunity to meet. For instance, @summerdreyer is an aspiring media personality and I love tracking her progress as she tries to break into the sport on the communications side, as well as following established media members such as @MartySmithESPN, @JennaFryer, and @Jeff_Gluck.
I love to hear new outlooks and perspectives on the world and the sport through short tweets.
RT: As a racing fan, what had to be the biggest story for you with the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series, and Camping World Truck Series?
CS: There has been a lot of exciting stories this offseason with a Brazilian driver in the Truck Series, Danica (Patrick) moving to NASCAR, and only having a couple of Cup rookies for the 2010 season.
However, I think that the most interesting is all of the movement going on in the sport. I think the one thing I'm looking forward to the most is showing up to Daytona and seeing who is wearing which logos—and of course the on-track competition!
RT: If you had the chance to run NASCAR for a day, what would be some of the things you'd keep and some of the aspects that you would modify?
CS: If I had the chance to run NASCAR for a day I wouldn't change a lot. The main thing I would like to change is making the racing more affordable. However, I think we all know there isn't a simple solution to that problem.
RT: Free Association Part Deux for you! You are going to be the master of this hands down. Here goes.
CS: I think that the recession has really hurt everyone in the motorsports industry, however, I feel like this year is going to continue the turning point to get everyone back on track.
CS: Hope is something that everyone in the sport has to have. However, hope cannot get anyone to the point of achieving their goals. Hope must go together with hard work, determination, ability to grow stronger from rejection and the desire to put all of this together to succeed. Hope is just the beginning part of dreaming.
CS: Patience is a virtue. Everything about our sport has to do with patience. Whether it's waiting to set someone up to pass them, or waiting to hear back from a sponsor. Patience and persistence are invaluable.
RT: The one racing facility you could drive at endlessly.
CS: I really enjoyed testing at Richmond. It was such a fun track, I am working on the opportunity to compete there. However, any track with other competitors would work great for me!
CS: True friendships are hard to find, but once you find them, don't let them go. I wouldn't be where I am today without my friends.
RT: The fact that we're now in the year 2010.
CS: Honestly, it's kind of a shock to me. I had my 20th birthday this past year and it was awful! I wish I never had to grow up—I loved being a kid, and it seems to go by so fast.
RT: Who you think will win this year's Daytona 500?
CS: I wish I could say "And the winner of the 2010 Daytona 500 is...Caitlin Shaw!" but it looks like I'm going to have to wait a bit for that!
RT: To all team owners out there who are looking for a driver for the upcoming season, what would you like to say to them?
CS: I know I can compete at the high level you are looking for. I am dedicated, determined and will promote your team to the best of my ability. When's our first race?