Kendra Adams has been racing since she was 13. Now in the fifth year of her career, Kendra has started college, hosts her own TV show, and was honored as Rookie of the Year not once, but twice this year: Sunset Late Model Rookie of the Year and the Ontario Provincial NASCAR Rookie of the Year.
Now on a well-deserved holiday, the Canadian is spending the winter in the East and Southeast United States to visit- you guessed it- more racetracks. We asked her to keep a log of her travels so that we, too, can be in the driver's seat. Follow along with Kendra below.
Cover photo: Shot by Kendra at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Above: Kendra Adams and Connor James tour the NASCAR Hall of Fame
WEEK 1 | TMI Autotech, Inc. | South Boston, VA
It's the biggest weekend of my life. Fresh off my racing season, after becoming the youngest and first female winner of the Ontario Provincial NASCAR Rookie of the Year, I am making the move to North Carolina for the winter.
I will be travelling to see different racetracks and the teams that race here, and for the first time experience what it’s like to race in the Southern USA. I know that there are a lot of differences between short track racing in Canada and the United States. The biggest difference is that stock car racing is a lot more popular in the US, the teams are bigger, and the number of cars in each race is bigger. I’m most excited about experiencing the biggest races the year has to offer like the Snowball Derby in December in Pensacola, Florida.
This weekend I was fortunate enough to tour TMI AutoTech Inc. in South Boston, Virginia, where they build the Ariel Atom and the Ariel Nomad. The Ariel Atom can be purchased for racing purposes or as a street- legal version. They are open wheel (no fenders) and open cockpit. The Ariel Nomad is the off -road version of the car. The buyer has a huge amount of input as to exactly what they want on their model, which makes the car unique and extremely customizable.
Above: Kendra sits in an Ariel demo
A huge thanks goes out to Mark Swain for this incredible tour. The facility was an early highlight of my trip and one I won't forget. My favourite part of the whole experience was getting to sit in the Ariels, but seeing the shop and all that is involved in making these cars was incredible. Mark also took me over to Virginia International Raceway, where we watched some road course racing. The track was huge-- 3.27 miles!! I usually watch races on half mile track or smaller because they are oval tracks. Road course tracks are much longer.
From there we headed to South Boston Speedway. The track was just repaved this year, and the speeds were fast. The facility and racing were incredible. This is definitely a place any short track racer should put on their bucket list. Short tracks are the most exciting racing to watch in a lot of people's opinions, including mine. I am a short track racer because I race on a third-of-a-mile track.
I had the privilege of meeting Max Papis while I was at South Boston as well. Max has raced Formula 1, Champ Cars, and Nascar; he is also the owner of an amazing steering wheel brand called MPI.
Above: Kendra snags a photo with Papis.
Each weekend I'll be visiting a different short track race and over the end of the season one or two NASCAR Monster Energy races. Stay tuned!
WEEK 2 | Hickory Motor Speedway | Hickory, NC
North Carolina is such a beautiful state, and I am so excited to start exploring. On Friday afternoon, my friend Hannah and I went hiking at Crowders Mountain State Park. We hiked two miles up the mountain, saw a breathtaking view at the top, and enjoyed a one-mile hike down the mountain, sharing many laughs and jokes along the way.
Above: Kendra takes in the view from the top of Crowders Mountain; Kendra's favorite Revo frame, Relay.
On Saturday, I set out to learn as much as I could about different short track series, cars, and drivers that pilot them. My friend Hannah, who works for Speed51.com as a Southeast Correspondent, and I drove to Hickory Motor Speedway, where we took in the five different divisions that compete there. There were Late Model Stock Cars, Limited Late Model, Super Late Model, Chargers, and Ministocks.
In the race control tower, I observed the computer work and what points of interest the Speed51.com associates would post on social media and on Speed51.com ‘s “Trackside Now” coverage. Hannah and Zach showed me everything they do during the races, in the live pit area, from filming to giving interviews to creating race track social media. This included what drivers came in from off the track and why.
Hickory Motor Speedway is a racetrack full of history. It actually opened as a 0.5-mile dirt track in 1951, and some of the most talented race car drivers of that time raced on it. Drivers Junior Johnson, Ned Jarrett, and Ralph Earnhardt became track champions, with Ralph Earnhardt winning five championships there in total. Now, Hickory is a paved 0.3 mile race track. It has shaped, and still is shaping, the future stars of NASCAR.
Above: Anthony Alfredo, winner of Saturday's race.
This past Saturday was such an amazing learning experience and I had a ton of fun. I got to meet a lot of different drivers, and hopefully will be able to see them compete again.
Next week, my journey will take me to Charlotte, North Carolina for the World Finals at the Dirt Track and then to Martinsville, Virginia for the Monster Energy NASCAR Race.
WEEK 3 | The Dirt Track | Charlotte, NC | Martinsville Speedway | Ridgeway, VA
This past weekend I was lucky enough to be able to attend the World Short Track Championship at the Dirt Track at Charlotte, North Carolina, and the Monster Energy Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.
On Friday and Saturday, I spent the day at the Dirt Track for the World Short Track Championship. Here, I spent the majority of the weekend in the pits, or the staging area where the cars line up to go out onto the track. Over the course of the two days I learned how to do lap-by-lap written commentary and spent time taking and posting photos of drivers and their cars.
Above: Kendra watches the race and reports from The Dirt Track
Aside from meeting lots of people, the best part of this weekend was the excitement in the UMP Modified race. The most obvious difference between modified cars and regular stock cars is the modified cars' lack of body panels on the front end; their front wheels are open. Battling for the second place in extremely fast cars, David Stremme and Kyle Strickler got together [collided]. Not only did these two drivers get together, but one tried to fight the other driver. Strickler got out of his wrecked race car and jumped into the window of Stremme’s. The two exchanged some emotions before going their separate ways. This was a great part of the weekend because it was very high energy, and always something people get excited for. Racing brings out some pretty high emotions, good and bad, for the drivers, crews, and fans.
One of the best things I learned at the Dirt Track was how to keep seemingly repetitive posts interesting and fun. When posting to social media or a website, it is important to learn how to keep the posts interesting without being repetitive, to keep your audience's attention.
After an early wakeup call Sunday morning, a friend of mine and I drove to Martinsville Speedway for the Monster Energy Cup race. I was very excited to get my day started in Martinsville-and host a Revo Instagram Story takeover! This was extremely exciting for me, as it was something that I have never done before. It was a cool experience to be able to share what I was doing there at the racetrack, and what behind-the-scenes of the NASCAR garage is like.
Above: A shot from the pit road at Martinsville Speedway.
The NASCAR race was a very exciting one! With the Playoffs and the NASCAR Championship right around the corner, emotions were high, and people got excited. Many of the drivers kept it cool for the beginning of the race, but the end of the race got extremely aggressive. With only a handful of laps to go, Denny Hamlin drove into the back of Chase Elliott, who was going for his first Monster Energy Cup win. The win would have landed Elliott a shot at the championship; the collision ruined his chances at a win.
Above: View of the Martinsville Speedway grandstand from the entrance.
As I said, emotions were super high and the two drivers had a very heated conversation with each other. That being said, they remained calm enough to just talk to each other without resorting to lashing out physically. In the long run, it was a bad situation for both drivers, especially Elliott. The good news is that he still has another two races and chances to secure his spot in the playoff championship race. Onto the next weekend!
Being in a place where I am fortunate enough to be able to participate in exciting opportunities like this is amazing and I am truly blessed. I am so happy that I get to collaborate with these amazing people and companies, and I look forward to many other opportunities with them in the future.
Next weekend, I am off to Concord, North Carolina, for the North South Shootout, featuring seven divisions of racing on the half mile tri oval. [Editor's note: a tri oval is a track shape that resembles an isosceles triangle with rounded-off corners.]
WEEK 4 | CONCORD SPEEDWAY | MIDLAND, NC | NASCAR Hall of Fame | CHARLOTTE, NC
For this stop I dipped into two different sides of racing. This weekend I watched two days out of the three-day World Finals Show at the Dirt Track, and two days at the North South Shootout at Concord Speedway in Midland, North Carolina. Needless to say, this was a weekend packed full of racing. As a bonus, my friend Connor James from back home in Canada came down for a few days to visit. He arrived halfway through the day Saturday, so he was able to see the North South Shootout and the World Finals Show.
At the Dirt Track Thursday and Saturday night, I saw some of the best racing these series have to offer. There were many *gasp* moments during the Super Late Model race. A very memorable moment was last lap slide job by David Gravel on Donny Schatz. A last lap slide job is when one driver will go in very fast on the bottom lane when the driver in front goes to the top, in order to get the lead. These are my favorite cars to watch on the dirt because they are the most similar to the car I drive, but on a different surface!
I was at Concord Speedway all day Friday and Saturday. This is where I was lucky enough to be able to try something new. I acted as what the motorsports world calls “Keys:" the person who writes up the lap-by-lap play-by-play. I did this for the feature races on Saturday, which gave me a new perspective from my normal one in the driver’s seat. The lap-by-lap just gave me a better perspective of the race because I am paying closer attention and my focus is always looking for the most action.
We went to the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Sunday. This was my third time at the HOF, and it was Connor’s first time. There are a lot of different exhibits and also a very large area with interactive activities and games. For example, there is a station made to look like a fake pit stop where you can jack a car up, change a tire, and add gas into a car. Connor and I did this together and set the fast time of the day. We also went head-to-head; I pulled off a much faster pit stop time than he did.
Another interactive area contained mock race cards with simulators inside. Here you can race against other NASCAR fans and see how you stack up.
There are many exhibits of old racing memorabilia throughout the Hall of Fame, many of which are interactive. This is an extremely fun experience as well as it gives a ton of background about the sport.
On Monday Connor and I toured a bunch of the NASCAR shops including Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart-Haas, Penske Racing, and Kyle Busch Motorsports. The NASCAR teams have an incredible amount of space to work on their cars. The working areas are visible to the public, so we went around and compared the differences among each of the shops.
Above: The Penske Shop
The best shop was Penske, because Connor and I were lucky enough to meet Joey Logano! Joey is one of Penske’s drivers and he was so nice to take the time out of his day to stop and talk to Connor and me, as well as take a photo with us.
Above: Kendra snags a photo op with Penske driver Joey Logano.
On Monday night Connor, another good friend of mine, Hannah Newhouse, and I went to Go Pro Motorplex, an outdoor go-karting track. These karts were so fast, and we had a great time! This is definitely a place that I would recommend to anyone visiting the Mooresville area.
Above: A group selfie after a night of racing at the Go Pro Motorplex karting in Mooresville, NC.
All in all, it was an amazing weekend filled with amazing memories and awesome people!