Lucas Oil Speedway Preseason Spotlight: 12 Questions with ULMA Late Model driver Ashlee Lancaster
WHEATLAND, Missouri (March 13, 2019) - Ashlee Lancaster is using the final weeks prior to Lucas Oil Speedway's season opener to finish up a new TNT Late Model. She's eager to better last season's results, when she finished eighth in the Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA Late Model division and earned multiple hard-charger awards in feature races.
The resident of Sturgeon, Missouri, located just north of Columbia, recently visited with Lucas Oil Speedway PR Director Lyndal Scranton for a Preseason Spotlight "12 Questions." She discussed a variety of subjects, including what it's like to be a woman in a male-dominated world of Late Model racing, about being a role model to young fans and how she got her start in racing.
How's your offseason been going and will you be ready for the Test and Tune on March 30?
"It's been very busy and we're behind, as usual. But we're getting close. We're pushing it to make practice day (March 30). My body is still a couple of weeks out, then I have to get a wrap after that. I'm waiting on a motor this weekend. I'm hoping and I have my fingers crossed. We need (practice day) with a new car, to get out there and practice before the first night, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen."
What sort of racing schedule do you have mapped out and what goals do you have for 2019?
"We'll run Lucas on a weekly basis. We're running for ULMA points again, so on our off nights we'll run the tracks that are (ULMA). I just want to be top-10 and top-5 more. The points will fall into place if we have good nights. I really want to be top-7ish at Lucas. We're going to have a brand-new car and lots of new stuff this year. I have high hopes, but nothing set in stone."
You were eighth in points at Lucas Oil Speedway last season. Evaluate last season. What was good and what was not so good?
"We made my goal of being top-8 in series points at Lucas. That was my main goal. We have the toughest competition there. There's at least 30 cars every night, where you don't get that at other track. I feel we had some solid runs. Our heat-race program needs to get better so we can start up front more, instead of getting the hard-charger award. As great as those are, I want to start up front and not have to work as hard."
How old are you and how did you get started in racing?
"I'm 30 and I got started when I was 16. I had always been around the shop with my Dad (Kenny Lancaster), working on race cars. He was working on them when I was little. I always told him that I wanted to drive when I got old enough. He said if I was still interested when I turned 16 he would build me a car. He held up his end of the deal. He always worked on race cars. He worked on Carl Edwards' car when he ran local, at Capital Speedway."
Were there any other racing influences as you were growing up or when you started driving?
"I always grew up watching it. I spent every weekend at the race track and I still do now. Starting in April, I don't plan to be anywhere else on weekends, between then and the end of October. If we're not racing, I'm always at the races watching."
Have you driven anything other than Late Models?
"My first year I ran a Hornet, a class for four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive cars. A crate series came around to Lake Ozark Speedway and that's how we jumped up to a Late Model and it's been Late Model ever since."
What's it like being a woman in a mostly male world of Late Model racing?
"It can be hard. I can say that I've raced with a lot of these guys for years. This will be my 14th season. Most of them will give me the respect that I think I've earned over the years. Some guys don't like it and that's just how it goes. They don't like being out-run by a girl, maybe. You can definitely tell that I'm becoming a little bit more competition, because some of them are a little quieter now. It's fun. It's something that I enjoy but I don't really think of it when I go out on the track. It's just like 'I weigh 2,400 pounds just like you do. I expect you to race me the way I would race you.' "
Are there some Late Model drivers who have been particularly respectful or helpful to you?
"Oh yeah. Daniel Jessen, he is actually sponsoring my car. He's helped me out the past couple of years and we have become good friends. He is somebody that I can go to. Lane Ehlert, I have raced with him for years as well. The last night last year at Lucas for points, I got in a wreck in my heat race and broke a front upper control arm. It got the shock and everything. Both of them came over and were like 'what can I do to get you back out there and run the last night for points?' I was running against Lane for eighth in points. Some people would just not help. They're really good guys. But there's multiple people who are willing to do anything for you. That's why I like racing. We're all one big family."
Your No. 16 was selected as "Best Appearing Car" at Lucas Oil Speedway in 2017. Are there any significant changes coming to the look of the new car?
"It is going to be quite a bit different this year. I'm not going with black. But we are keeping our main (accent) colors of neon pink and neon yellow. That won't change, but overall it will be a little bit different."
It seems like more and more women are coming to the races as fans. What is it like for you when female fans, especially little girls, come up to you at races and want to get an autograph or to just meet you?
"I love it when the little girls come up. They say they want to be like me and I just say, 'You just need to be like yourself. Be a great you because you can do this, too. This is something that any girl can do.' Cars are a dime a dozen. You just have to have the goal and the drive to get in and be successful."
Do you have any other interests or hobbies outside of racing, in the little bit of spare time you have?
"Not really. I'm a race fan myself. I don't just go and drive every weekend. If I'm not racing, I'll go and watch the MLRA guys or the Lucas Oil show, World of Outlaws if they're close. I just love Late Model racing. I just go wherever they are on our off weekends."
Crew-wise, is there anyone else helping out besides you and your Dad?
"It's just us and then my Mom (Dawn) helps out, more on the financial side of it, doing the (accounting) work. It's just the three of us. We have some returning sponsors who have been with us - Burks Service Co., JMFD Enterprize, Chuck's Auto Body, Melloway Fast Wraps, Jessen Trucking, Dirt Track Specialist. Then we added five new sponsors - Pro Muffler, Poppy's Place, Roadkill Orchestra, Stupid Fast Fasting and Landon & Brad Blankenship."
The 2019 Lucas Oil Speedway season kicks off March 30 with an open test and tune. The Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series begins April 6 with action in all four of the weekly divisions - Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds, Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods, Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA Late Models and O'Reilly Auto Parts Street Stocks.
To inquire about tickets, VIP suites or camping, contact Admissions Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or via email at Nichole@LucasOilSpeedway.com.
Lucas Oil Speedway General Manager
Office: (417) 282-5984