One lap at a time

Posted at: 02/22/2013 5:37 PM
Updated at: 02/22/2013 7:17 PM
By: Robin De Wind

It's the super bowl of NASCAR. The Daytona 500 is this Sunday. Danica Patrick made history last weekend as a woman and a racer. She became the first female to secure the top spot for any race in NASCAR’s premier circuit.

A local woman says Patrick is paving the way for female drivers, one lap at a time.

Amy Catalano's first taste of racing was a go-cart she built with her dad at the age of six. This is what she drives today.

Amy Catalano, NASCAR modified driver, said, “I hope to leave a legacy behind so for other women and girls. It's my belief that it's not a boys sport.”

Catalano competes in NASCAR’s modified division. She won rookie of the year her first season.

She is a three-time Spencer Speedway track champion, won in the premier division.  In 2011, she captured the state title in NASCAR, but she still deals with stereotypes.

Catalano said, “I go to get a car and I get that blank stare. This car never wins, it's hard for me to get sponsorships so that I can keep going. The image is it's a man's sport.”

While she dreams of Daytona, Catalano is thrilled that Danica Patrick is making headlines in the sport. Winning the pole spot for this Sunday’s race may be a simple accomplishment in the big picture of NASCAR, but it could go a long way for other women in the sport.

Catalano said, “Having the female contingent in NASCAR is huge. It is what NASCAR needs, it's what it needs to keep going, I think we need to have success to go with our pump.”

Grinding it out every week on the track is the thrill of it all for Catalano. She really does do it all. She has 5 boys, ages 14 years old to 7 months, competing against her oldest son, Tommy.

She is also getting her MBA and rarely misses a night in the garage. She may love Kyle Bush, but you bet, she will be rooting for Danica Patrick!

Catalano said, “He's where I wanted to be for that opportunity, I would love to be where she is but she is hanging with it, and I wish I were in her shoes.”

Catalano's son, Tommy, also won New York State Rookie of the Year and was beating adult drivers by the time he was 12.