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Oval Track News Interview With: Christy Penrod

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Christy Penrod

1) Where & when did you see you first local race?

I have been going to race tracks since I was born, so I couldn’t tell you the exact track or year. But I’ve always been aware of all the local tracks.

2) When and how did you start racing?

My dad used to race at all the old tracks like Santa Fe, and Raceway Park, and even Grundy. When my mom had my brother and me, she didn’t want him driving anymore, so instead he put me in a go-kart and lives vicariously through me. I was 5 when I first started racing. So, I’ve been racing for close to 16 years.

3) Who were your toughest competitors?

We were just kids, trying to understand how to go in a circle the fastest, but I remember when I was maybe 8 or 9, and it came down to the last night in points for the championship. It was Tony Phillips’ kid, Dominic, and me running so close in points. Pat Kelly’s kid, Nathan, raced against my brother and me as well. Kevin Gentile and my brother battled it out one year too. A lot of my early competitors are still involved in racing today.

4) What was your first car?

Well I had 3 go-karts to start off with, 2 RAGEs and an Ultramax. But my first stock car was a street stock. We had pulled an ’04 Monte Carlo body off a car at the junk yard and stretched and fit it to our chassis. Unfortunately, we had to sell it when we moved up in divisions, but you can see Dallas Frueh driving it around Grundy, sporting the 6-year-old body.

5) What division did you start off in?

When I was 14-15, my dad let me begin racing street stock, I raced in that division for four years.

6) What is your car number and why did you pick your number?

42. I’m not exactly sure because I was 5 when I picked it, but I’m pretty sure my brother wanted that number so I had to have it. However, along the way, I’ve found coincidences with the number 42.

7) How long before you won your first race?

If we are counting go-karts, I have no idea haha. I’d have to look through my old trophies and try to find the oldest date.

8) How long before you won your first feature?

It was my second year, opening night, I won my first feature.

9) What was or is your favorite car(s)?

Honestly, I can appreciate any car for what it is. But I have a bias for BMW. I own a 1985 e30, which was going to be a project car, but then I got a late model, which is where all my money went.

10) What was or is your favorite track?

When we were touring with the go-karts, Peoria Speedway was the coolest track by far, or maybe Macon because it was a literal bowl. However, I have only raced at Grundy and Rockford with the stockcars, but we are hoping to possibly travel at the end of the season.

11) What victory stands out the most?

In 2015, I made history as the first female to win a track championship at Grundy. That was the coolest thing by far, to accomplish.

12) What victory that “got away” stands out?

The year I won the championship, I didn’t win a single feature. I pulled a Mark Martin and won a championship without a single win. So the 32 (roughly?) second places were all the ones that got away. I was taught consistency is key, and it sure is!

13) Have you ever been injured in a race?

In go-karts I got pretty banged up a lot, because I was tiny and it was easy to get bounced around in those. The only time I can remember getting pretty bruised up in a stock car is the Friday before night of features during my championship year, I got taken out in front of the whole field. I think we counted 7 cars on the in car camera that hit me. I must have hit my arm hard enough on the seat that I thought I had broken it. Long story short, I finished the race and races Sunday and if you look at the picture of me standing on the side of my car with my arms up, my right one is ginormous and swollen and bruised compared to my left.

14) Who were the toughest to race against?

I think almost all the competitors at Grundy are tough to race against, there is a lot of experience and talent at this track. I think when you are close in points, those people become your toughest competitors that you focus on.

15) Who was or is the hardest to pass?

I can’t throw anyone under the bus here, haha. But there is a difference between protecting your line and just being in the way. Some people have more patience than others.

16) Who did you or do you not want to see in the mirror with 1 lap to go?

Well, I’d rather see people in the mirror behind me than no one at all. There’s a lot of guys in late model that I wouldn’t want to see because I know how well they can get around the track.

17) Who was your favorite local driver growing up?

The locally loved, and locally hated, Eddie Hoffman. It is crazy to think I am racing against him now. I remember being very young up in the stands watching him. Robbie Pyle was also one of my favorites, his company, Image FX, still does my graphics after all these years.

18) Who are your favorite local drivers now?

I am definitely both an asphalt and dirt fan so there are quite a few people I keep an eye on. Scott Bloomquist, Bobby Pierce, and Shannon Babb are some of my favorite dirt late model drivers. It is pretty cool to see local guys like Ty Majeski making it to the big leagues in asphalt though.

19) Who is your favorite NASCAR driver?

I might be biased because I am younger, but Chase Elliot and Kyle Larson are two of my favorite.

20) Who helped you the most in your career?

It takes a village, without a doubt. But my dad is by far the most influential person on my career. He has always told me I could when I thought I couldn’t, and has pushed me to improve every week.

21) Any feuds or rivalries?

Only during my championship year, Cheryl Hryn and I were so close in points, we were considered rivals. But now we are really close friends, and I still cheer her on.

22) Any funny stories from the track to tell?

Before we went to college, one of my best friends from school worked on my pit crew. His last name is Fox, so naturally that’s what we called him. Now mind you, I am very petite and skinny, to the point we had pedal extensions on and had to beat the rib protectors in on the seat. But it was autograph night, and I told Fox he could drive my car out onto the track. Well, him being bigger than me, he got stuck. The poor kids wanted to sit in my car, but we couldn’t stop laughing long enough to help him out. It took a couple of us, but those are the types of memories that I won’t ever forget. We still joke about it.

23) Who were your best friends in racing?

To this day, the kids I grew up with racing go-karts against are still my best friends. Although we might live a little far from each other, we always make time to get together a couple times a year.

24) Sponsors your race fans should patronize that help you get to the track.

Chicago U-Pic-A-PartG&T EnterprisesMahoney EnterprisesJV AutomotiveImage FXTowing ExpressGoodaker PhotographyDammit Dimmitt Race VideosIt takes a village, and I can’t thank them enough.

25) Do you have a Facebook Page or Website fans can follow you at?
Photo Credit: Goodaker Photography ( Chris Goodaker)

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