19-year-old racing standout Gracie Trotter will make the move up to the national ARCA Menards Series level this season for the prolific Venturini Motorsports on a part-time basis.
The Denver, N.C. native will run 10 races, piloting both the Nos. 15 and 25 Toyota Camry with Mobil 1 as one of her sponsors. Notably, Trotter makes her debut with the team will be the season opener at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, February 13.
Of course, Trotter hopes to deliver an impressive result as the team won the 200-mile race last year with Michael Self.
Outside of Daytona, Trotter will compete in the combination race at Phoenix (Mar. 12), Talladega (Apr. 24), Toledo (May 22), Elko (Jul. 10), Berlin (Jul. 17), Michigan (Aug. 20), Milwaukee (Aug. 29), Salem (Oct. 2) and the ARCA West finale Phoenix (Nov. 6).
Trotter said she couldn’t be more excited to be a part of a championship-caliber race team. Additionally, she thanked Toyota Racing Development as she’ll further develop her stock car racing career that looks very bright.
“I’m so thankful to everyone at Toyota Racing Development, Mobil 1, and VMS for giving me this surreal opportunity to continue living out my dreams,” said Trotter. “Toyota has been incredibly important to my development over the last four years. They’ve guided me so much, helping me move up at the right pace with the right people.”
Sheer Determination to Succeed
Last year, Trotter gained notoriety for her dominant performance at the Las Vegas Bullring last September. In this case, Trotter scored her only ARCA West victory, leading a race-high 95 of 150 laps.
Namely, Gracie Trotter’s performance stood out because no woman had such an incredible single race performance since Shawna Robinson’s Goody’s Dash days in the late 1980s.
Right away, you’re wondering what about Hailie Deegan?
While the polarizing Truck Series rookie is all the rage and has three West wins from 2018-19, she never really had a race where she completely owned the competition like Trotter did.
Now, Deegan led a national ARCA single-race record 85 laps at Lebanon I-44 Speedway last year. However, her aggressive driving came back to bite her as she faced off with angry drivers than celebrating in Victory Lane.
Even before Trotter won at The Bullring, what really impressed me is her all-around mellow composure. She’s a driver that will be aggressive when necessary but doesn’t end up being on every driver’s hit list like Deegan.
People may forget that Trotter took the lead from last year’s West champion Jesse Love and runner-up Blaine Perkins on Lap 54, the series third-place points finisher stayed in P1 the rest of the way after starting ninth out of the 12-car field.
Results Speaking Volumes
Trotter proved that women could take control of a race without the constant use of the chrome horn or crack under pressure when the race is at the palm of their hands. Deegan has yet to fully compose herself without being wickedly aggressive from start to finish.
If Trotter succeeds in her ARCA starts or puts herself in positive to win, hopefully, people take notice. Aside from those who follow the West and late model racing scene, she’s slept on quite a lot from a certain social media demographic.
People must realize that while Deegan finished third in last year’s national standings, she was hardly toe-to-toe with Michael Self, Ty Gibbs, Sam Mayer, and series champion Brett Holmes.
Even when she drove for Venturini in 2019, her performance wasn’t stellar either. Hopefully, Trotter can have better performances because results are so deceiving in ARCA.
People tend to look at the results and be impressed. Then again, they need to see the whole race to realize the competition isn’t the same as it once was back in the day.
All Around Maturity Is Vital
Trotter’s maturity on and off the track continues to grow over time. For instance, when the competition is a lot tougher (aka the ARCA East), she’s held her own.
Sure, it may be far from a top-five effort. However, it speaks some volumes when Trotter gets a top-10 in those races.
Aside from Love, Trotter was honestly the only other bright spot for Bill McAnally Racing. Gio Scelzi may have had that incredible win at Roseville but it was during an underwhelming season. Meanwhile, Holley Hollan and Lawless Alan didn’t even complete the entire season due to their constant struggles and incidents.
Although it would’ve been nice seeing Trotter stay another year out West, moving up to the national level is a necessary challenge. The sport sorely needs a female role model where people aren’t quick to judge due to her actions or beliefs like Deegan in the past year. Right now, Deegan is required to take sensitivity training before the season opener as she dropped an offensive word during a Twitch stream last Sunday.
Aside from clouts digging through Trotter’s past likes on Twitter, there’s been nothing but positive things from fellow media personnel.
I’ve even interviewed her days after her victory and totally vouch for those sentiments. It’s not often you’ll hear a young racer say A.J. Foyt being a racing idol that isn’t running open wheels.
Trotter’s Winning Mentality
Indeed, Gracie Trotter is the opposite of Deegan and that’s okay. Stock car racing does need a balance of personalities. Based on my interview with her and the following press release statement, the sky’s the limit for Trotter.
“I tell myself I can win every time I strap myself into a race car,” Trotter said. “This year will be no different but with a learning curve.
“My time in the car now is about the future. It’s about learning as much as I can about the car, communication with my team, and all the new tracks. Coming to a place like Venturini Motorsports to race and learn from some of the best makes me feel like there’s no better place to be right now.”