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#1
Johnny D

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Hannah Grisham

 

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Competition. That’s what drives any successful racer, and it’s no different for a racer just getting started in the sport.

 

For Hannah Grisham, the NASA Teen Mazda Challenge is the most recent outlet for her competitive bug. While the 18-year-old high school senior from Glendora, California has other competitive outlets (most notably water polo), nothing fills the void like racing.

 

It clearly comes naturally for Hannah. Her father, Tom Grisham, races motorcycles off-road and while he taught his daughter to ride at the age of four, he didn’t want her competing on two wheels.

 

Enter four-wheels.

 

“I started racing in go karts when I was six,” Grisham said. “I did that for about 10 years, and a man who owned Morning Star Motorsports, James Brown, was looking for a female driver to drive his car. I was the one he chose, so that’s how I got into the car.”

 

Brown, who plays a key role in the Teen Mazda Challenge and sits on NASA’s advisory board for the national program in 2018, helped Grisham into the seat for the 2016 season.

 

From there, Grisham was off and running in Teen Mazda Challenge, recognizing the value in both the short-term competition, and the long term.

 

“It’s just a good opportunity for teens,” Grisham said of the program. “It’s a way to work up the ladder and not have to spend tons and tons of money. It’s grassroots. The teens are usually among the fastest people at a Spec Miata event, or at least in the top half of the pack. I think that just goes to show something. But the main thing that you get out of it is that it’s another opportunity to work your way up.”

 

And more than that, being a part of the Teen Mazda Challenge has opened doors that may not have been available as a “regular” Spec Miata competitor.

 

“Being in the Teen Mazda Challenge, some of the Mazda people focus on us and give us some advice,” she said of the support around the events. “They invite us to things we wouldn’t get to do, like Mazda events. That helps give me some contacts and meet people to figure out what this is all about. That really helps, in my opinion.”

 

One of those introductions was to Lyn St. James, who – while very well known as a racer in her own right – is probably best known these days as a champion for women racers and other behind the scenes causes. One of those causes, the Women in the Winner’s Circle Project Podium Grant is part of the Lyn St. James-led Women’s Sports Foundation and is awarded annually to “provide direct financial assistance in the form of matching grants to women in racing to help further their professional careers.”

 

Grisham was named one of the recipients for 2018, an honor and a help to her career.

 

“I went to a seminar at the Long Beach Grand Prix called Racing Goes Safer (a driver safety seminar) and she was there and told me I should apply for it. I did last year and was one of the recipients for 2018.

 

“There was some money involved, but other than that, Lyn helps me. She’s there for advice, and some contacts. Just her help alone is a lot.”

 

And every little bit helps as all of the young drivers in the Teen Mazda Challenge launch what they hope is a long and successful driving career. And at this age, that goal is still within reach.

 

“My goal would be to work the way up the Mazda ladder, and hopefully make a career out of racing,” Grisham said.

 

There is a fallback plan for Grisham in life after high school – though racing remains the focus at this point.

 

“I’m going to college, though I’m not very sure what I want to do other than racing. I’m going to a local community college, staying close to home, and figuring out what I want to do.”

 

In the meantime, you can find Hannah at NASA events in the Teen Mazda Challenge up and down the West Coast, piloting her Spec Miata. It won’t be hard to find her.

 

She’ll be in one of the cars near the front.


  • luvin_the_rings likes this
2011 NASA Western Endurance Racing Championship E3 Champ
We have a Winnah! - Won their 1st race... Congratulations! Beta-Tester - Assisted us with beta testing the website. Donor - Made PayPal donation Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver Novel Approach - When a paragraph simply won't do... Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill - Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill Instigator - Made a topic or post that inspired other Make it Rain - Made Paypal donation of $100+

#2
Johnny D

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Matthew Dirks

 

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“Wise beyond his years” is one phrase used to describe Teen Mazda Challenge competitor Matthew Dirks, and it fits – there are times during the phone call that it’s easy to forget the voice on the other end of the line is just a 15-year-old young man who recently completed his freshman year at Roosevelt High School in Johnstown, Colorado.

 

It’s not so much what Dirks says, but how he says it – with a confidence, a matter of factness, that is confident and certain. Like he knows what is going to happen next, and, for better or worse, is comfortable with it.

 

Dirks grew up at the race track – his father, David, is a longtime club racer, and his mother, Michelle, has spent her time behind the wheel as well – and started racing a go kart at 10 years old. That didn’t last long.

 

“I turned 13, and my dad and I went out and bought a car,” Dirks said of his introduction to Spec Miata. “We took it to a go kart track, and that was the first time I drove it. I got my comp license in 2016, and got into the racing part of it.”

 

With a NASA Rocky Mountain Region Spec Miata championship in 2017, his first full season of racing at 14 years old, and a second place in the Teen Mazda Challenge championship, the talent is undeniable.

 

A title prior to turning 16 years old – if you’re following the “young racer” script, this is where the next declaration is that the end goal is Formula One. Remember that whole ‘wise’ thing?

 

“I want to go to college, which compromises any professional career right off the bat,” he says. “I do want to do the Road To 24 Shootout, but right now I’m focusing more on the Regional stuff.”

 

Don’t be fooled, though – this youngster is driven. He readily admits that his only hobbies are racing and the related activities.

 

“I like to work on my car,” he says. “I know the car really well. That’s about it. I don’t have very many other interests. I like working with technical stuff, and getting things to work. That’s kind of my thing.”

 

And right now, that focus is on the Teen Mazda Challenge. That competition has made him a better driver.

 

“The competitors are really good,” Dirks says of the program. “You’re racing with a bunch of people your age, who are also pretty good at racing. That’s a fun experience. We get good support from Mazda and Toyo, and it gives me a pretty good shot at the Mazda Shootout.”

 

Yes, the Mazda Road to 24 Shootout. While college is the ultimate goal, he’s still a racer at heart – and like many Shootout winners in the past, it is possible to do both.

 

“I think that I would probably make that work,” he says of the hypothetical offer to run the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup season after winning the Shootout. “School would be out, I’d have no distractions, and besides, it would be a lot of fun. I would take that opportunity. “

 

The focus now, however, is on the 2018 Teen Mazda Challenge season and the Spec Miata that he and his father are currently building so that the elder Dirks can race with his son.

 

Thanks to Mazda support, Matthew can even contribute financially to David’s build.

 

“The contingencies help a lot,” Matthew said of the Mazda support. “They help for building the new car and engines. Everything helps in this sport.”

 

Until then, he’ll be using an old trick to prep himself for the NASA Nationals to end the season.

 

“In between go karting and cars, I took about a half year and did a lot of iRacing,” Dirks said. “That helped me learn to drive a manual and get the braking down. I still use it. I plan to practice for Nationals at COTA a lot on iRacing. Track days there are really expensive, so I’ll learn the track that way. The only real time on track I will have there is the day before the actual race.”

 

And if his racing strategy is as well thought out as his life strategy, look for Matthew Dirks toward the front of that National race at Circuit of the Americas.


2011 NASA Western Endurance Racing Championship E3 Champ
We have a Winnah! - Won their 1st race... Congratulations! Beta-Tester - Assisted us with beta testing the website. Donor - Made PayPal donation Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver Novel Approach - When a paragraph simply won't do... Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill - Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill Instigator - Made a topic or post that inspired other Make it Rain - Made Paypal donation of $100+

#3
luvin_the_rings

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Hannah Grisham

 

Hannah-Grisham-400x300.jpg

 

Competition. That’s what drives any successful racer, and it’s no different for a racer just getting started in the sport.

 

 

 

I've raced with Hannah and she can really wheel the damn thing.  Keep it up Hannah!






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