There’s no doubt that 25-year-old Amber Slagle has the potential to be a bona fide star racer in stock car competition.
As detailed in Part I of Slagle’s “Hot Seat,” the Sylvan Lake, Michigan native is a multidimensional racer with an old school driver’s heart. This driver also works for Petty GMS Motorsports and GMS Racing as a graphic installer and a crew chief for various racers.
Her savvy with understanding and appreciating the hard work put forth with cars along with her talents behind the wheel make her invaluable for a quality racing opportunity. Beyond that, she’s adept with social media marketing and interactions.
Last year, Slagle showcased her potential in the ARCA Menards Series West in three starts. Her top 10 at All American Speedway in Roseville, California was her personal best result yet in a stock car.
Make no mistake that Slagle wants to be in the sport for a long time. She’s invested all of her heart and soul to be a successful, competitive racer who can inspire women and anyone aspiring to be a part of the motorsports world.
Ultimately, Slagle hopes for the right opportunity at the right time. The amiable, resourceful driver has much to offer while possessing rare qualities among her counterparts.
I caught up with Slagle recently with our conversation being so in-depth and heartfelt. Here’s Part II of “In the Hot Seat with Amber Slagle” here on The Podium Finish right here, right now!
Rob Tiongson : I feel like you have such a great story so far that you’ve told me. I was just thinking that you’re a little bit like Bobby Labonte in that regard, because he kind of went through a similar experience as you. So I’m hopeful that your career keeps on going, because you’re just beginning the writing part of your amazing story so far. I’m feeling inspired by this already. It’s so cool, to say the least.
Amber Slagle : That’s what I want. I want to inspire other people. And there’s a lot of other drivers that are like me, that don’t come from money, and they want it just as bad as I do. But sometimes, some of us, we just have to work a little harder at it. And that’s okay, because it’s more rewarding.
So, when we show up to the racetrack, it’s rewarding knowing we did the work on the racecars, and we put the time and the effort to get there. So I enjoy that, and I’m willing to keep working as hard as I have to to keep racing this year, and that’s what we’re going to do.
Tiongson : I’m looking forward to that. And whether it’s me or one of my other writers this year, I really hope we get to see you on the track. When Luis wrote about you for TPF last year and I read this article, I was like, “How did I not know about Amber?” Because I know a lot about the up-and-coming drivers.
But your story warrants this attention. It warrants the publicity, and I really think it’s something that we need to promote more of, just because you’re very unique in your ways, and you’re very determined. You’re very driven. And like I said earlier, I can sense it within you how much you want to do this.
And part of me also is really happy that you’re doing this just because it’s during a time where I’d say NASCAR and motorsports has become more inclusive with women and people of color getting these opportunities and doing these roles that are more meaningful and impactful, besides just being out there.
Being a female driver, and a driver, how do you feel about the diversity movement that NASCAR is doing, and do you think there should be more work ahead for NASCAR?
Slagle : Yeah. I think it’s a start, for sure. I really think they’re trying to include us a lot more, and especially with the announcement of that Busch Light deal. It’s cool to see what they’re doing and try to get more females through the sport. And I’m trying to get my name out there more. I’m not one that comes from money, like most that are known right now.
And unfortunately, I don’t… I race maybe two, three, four times a year, unlike most that they race a full season, and their name’s out there, and they’re seen on TV. And that’s really just what I’m working towards is I want to get my name out there and prove that this is who I am, and I’m capable of doing this.
And I deserve the opportunity, and I’ve worked hard, and I’m going to keep working hard for the opportunity. So I want people to see that it’s not just about driving the racecars.
I’ve put in all the work in every aspect of this industry. So hopefully, we can put some stuff together. I’m trying real hard. It’s not easy. Honestly, I think the promoting side of this sport and the sponsorship side is by far the hardest out of everything that I’ve done. It’s not easy, but I’m not giving up on it.
Tiongson : I would say so. I mean, I can tell you’re very determined to make this dream happen. And it’s certainly a role, whether you have to do it, or there’s some reluctance with other drivers, you have to be your best salesman and your best marketing professional. In my opinion, it should come down just to talent and driving alone, but with the way NASCAR and racing has been, it’s just been about having connections and having money.
But I’m hopeful, too, that, like you said, getting your name out there, and your willingness to put yourself out there, too, is going to pay off. And I think it should, just because you’re very authentic about your knowledge about what goes on, and I think it shows, in this interview and I’m sure with other interviews you’ll do with us or other outlets, for sure.
Kind of taking it from a general perspective, I noticed that a lot of new fans came into the sport a few weeks ago when NASCAR raced out in LA Memorial Coliseum for the Busch Light Clash. From your standpoint, having raced short tracks, late models, and stock cars, do you feel like NASCAR needs to be more about a short track series with the Cup Series?
Slagle : I mean, I think short track racing is always interesting. I’m big in the late models still, and Saturday night racing, that’s where I grew up. So, yeah, I think it’s good for the sport. And I wasn’t too sure on how the Coliseum was going to work out, honestly. I thought maybe it was going to be a fail. But you never know until they do it.
And it turned out… I thought it was actually a really good weekend. I thought it was good for NASCAR, and it’s good for the new fans. And unfortunately, as a racecar driver, we don’t want to see drivers get wrecked or wreck racecars, but unfortunately, that’s what the fans like. And I think that’s kind of what NASCAR is leaning towards with the short tracks.
It sucks for us. But that is what’s bringing the fans in. And it’s just the tough racing, and that’s what they want to see. So, yeah, I think short tracks are helping out the sport, for sure.
Tiongson : I remember talking about this with you off-channel when we were talking about the Busch Light Clash, and you were saying, “Hey, actually, I installed the graphics on Ty Dillon’s car.” And of course, I think you did also Erik Jones’s, as well. So I have to imagine that there was a sense of pride seeing the cars that you worked on and wrapped on the racetrack these past couple of weeks.
When you saw Ty Dillon and Erik Jones behind the wheel of those cars that you worked on, literally by hand, how humbling and incredible was it for you, knowing that you had a hand in that?
Slagle : Yeah. Wrapping cars is probably my favorite thing to do in the sport, and that’s why I’m doing it at Petty GMS now full time. And I’m still doing it here for Bruce Cook and Cook Racing Technologies. I still help him out, as I drive here still, so. It was cool. I never thought I’d get the opportunity to wrap Cup cars, and it just worked out right.
It’s cool. I enjoy seeing the work I do on the racetrack. When I’m watching, like, “Hey, I wrapped that car!” It’s a good feeling for me. And we work hard for that, and we put a lot of time into that. So to see our work turn out good, it’s cool, and I enjoy it a lot.
It’s by far one of my favorite things to do, other than driving in this sport, is to install graphics.
Tiongson : And those cars looked really sharp. They looked really good in the front of the field, I would say. I think your team was one of the first to reveal those Next Gen cars, once they revealed what each manufacturer, each OEM looked like, last May. So I thought that was cool that you shared that.
I had no idea until you mentioned it, and it’s really cool, just because a lot of folks back then used to paint their cars, but wrapping a racecar, and wrapping a car in general, that’s a lot of work, like you said. A lot of tools you have to use, being very precise, and being good at attention to detail, too, because you don’t want to be that person that messes up a decal or placement, of course.
Slagle : Yeah, it’s something that it takes a lot of patience to do. But this was something that I actually just picked up and learned it by myself. I had no help. It just kind of came out of nowhere. Yeah, people ask me, “How did you get so good at doing wraps?”
And my answer, honestly, I don’t know. It’s something I was just asked to do. I always did decals on my racecars growing up, but I never did the full wraps until I moved down here. And I got asked, “Do you want to try one?” And from there, it was just like, I love doing this, so.
Tiongson : That’s so cool.
Slagle : Yep.
Tiongson : I would just say, it’s probably like wrapping a model car, like a diecast car, or back then when I used to make model cars, having to be very exact about where those decals go. If I messed it up and everything else went well, I was like, “Rob, why did you do that?” So that’s just so cool.
I would love to see a time-lapse video one of these days of you doing that, just because that would be a really cool behind-the-scenes thing that you could share, provided your team allows you, whether with Petty GMS or even with your late model. I think that would be…
Slagle : Yeah. I have a few of them posted. I did one when I did my ARCA debut last year, I made one. And my plan is to, when I have a race coming up here soon, to do one also on my wrap again. So hopefully, you’ll be seeing one soon. I haven’t really set anything on my race schedule for this year, but hopefully you guys will see something soon, so.
Tiongson : Let us know, because when the moment comes that you know at least you’re doing one or two races, you know that we’ll definitely cover it on TPF and on TPF Live, and we’re always happy to share what you get to do on the racetrack. And it sounds like you read my last question, so I’m pretty convinced you already know what my last question for you will be. And if not, well, total surprise for you.
If you had to be me as a journalist and you had to describe who you were as a person and a racecar driver, what three words would you choose, and why?
Slagle : I think my three words for myself would be probably I’m hardworking, I’m humble, and I’m blessed, honestly. It just comes down to that, really. I’m blessed for the opportunities I’ve had for where I’m at today. And just coming down from Michigan, I thought I was just going to be working in the sport, to be honest. I didn’t think I was driving racecars anymore. I thought that was done. And it all comes down to that.
I’ve worked hard for it, and I’m blessed for the opportunities I’ve had, and I’m also humble about it, too. There’s not many people out there that get these opportunities anymore. So, I’m thankful for that, and I’m thankful for the people behind me that have given me that opportunity.
So we’ll keep digging away at it this year, and hopefully you guys will see what I have planned soon.
Tiongson : I’m looking forward to it, and I hope sincerely, like I said earlier, that the book of your career is just continuing, because I think what you’re doing right now and what you will be doing in the future is certainly going to be really special to see. Did you have any last words you wanted to share with the racing fans on The Podium Finish, or NASCAR fans in general, that you wanted to share?
Slagle : Yeah, thanks for having me on, for sure. I appreciate you taking the time to tell my story and kind of help get my name out there more. It’s a hard thing to do. And I appreciate everyone following me along, and again, to Bruce and Steve McGowan for giving me these opportunities that I have, because without them, really, it wouldn’t be possible.
So, yeah, thank you to everybody who follows me and is supporting my dream, and we’re going to go win some races this year, and have some fun.
Special thanks to Amber for taking the time for our wonderful conversation for TPF!