Focusing on increasing female participation in National SCCA® Time Trials competition, SCCA Women on Track launched a scholarship earlier this year that would award two women with $1,000 each to help fund their attendance at any 2023 Tire Rack SCCA Time Trials National Tour Powered by Hagerty event. Of the applications received, two stood out amongst the crowd, with both recipients intending to use their scholarships to attend the 2023 Time Trials Nationals taking place at NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, KY, on Oct. 12-15.
Scholarship winners Natalie Haizlip and Casandra Light have each been SCCA members for no more than three years, but in that time, they have jumped into motorsports and the Club enthusiastically, making them excellent recipients of the 2023 SCCA Women on Track Time Trials Scholarships.
Her Time: Casandra Light
An Atlanta Region member since 2020, Casandra Light found herself thrust into motorsports when she began dating Marcus Wheeler, and it didn’t take her long to realize this was something she wanted to be a part of. “I began my journey after meeting my boyfriend three years ago,” she explains. “He had a passion for cars and was an engineer at heart. Early on in our relationship, I would join him at the shop learning about cars, why he was so passionate, and occasionally even help him bleed brakes, swap transmissions and engines in the 350Z, and be there as moral and food support.
“His passion was what started me in autocross, but once I attended the first one and had a ride along, I was hooked. The adrenaline, the challenge, the fun, and the people that got my sarcasm and level of competition are what I stayed for.”
Casandra has volunteered at several Time Trials Nationals, but never competed behind the wheel on track – although her mission is to change that. “My short-term goal is to go to a Time Trials event in the driver's seat, and my long-term goal is to get the track experience I need to win my class,” she says. “Together, I think [my boyfriend and I can] push each other’s limits while doing what we enjoy together.”
What does the scholarship money mean to Casandra? “It would mean I can continue to grow in the sport, as well as encourage my boyfriend by being able to push him on track as much as he encourages me to be a better driver,” she says. “This [scholarship will] also help take the burden of using some of my funds for hobbies that could be going to medical bills. The Time Trials team is always encouraging me to drive in an event, but usually I say, ‘I want to let Marcus have his time.’ Well, with this money it could be my time.”
Battling Back: Natalie Haizlip
While Washington DC Region member Natalie Haizlip is new to the Club and the sport, she already has more experience than many, both volunteering for her Region and as a driver behind the wheel. She began doing track days in April 2022, joining the SCCA in August of that year. In that time, she estimates that she’s participated in 31 track days, already moving from Novice to Advanced in SCCA’s track skill ranking. “I just earned my Advanced rating and look forward to running where the pace is faster and the overall skillset of the drivers is higher, and begin competing in Time Trials,” she says. Her longer-term goals are to continue to advance, getting her competition license for wheel-to-wheel racing, and becoming an instructor. “I aspire to be an instructor one day in hopes of making the process easier and less stressful for women to get started,” she explains.
While she wants to battle on track in SCCA Time Trials competition, Natalie has faced a serious battle off track. “I am an ovarian cancer survivor, and receiving this [scholarship justifies] how hard I have worked and how committed I have been to overcoming obstacles, not only on track but personally,” Natalie says. “Being a female in motorsports means overcoming adversity, and this scholarship helps just that.”
Her plan is to compete at the 2023 Time Trials Nationals in a K24-powered Honda S2000 sporting aero. “One of my first instructors and biggest mentors is competing in that event and it would be a dream to compete side by side with someone who has been instrumental in my driver growth,” she says.
You Can Help, Too
Funding for SCCA Women on Track initiatives comes from SCCA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support the Sports Car Club of America by providing inclusive opportunities for motorsports competition, safety, education, and historical preservation through such programs as Tire Rack Street Survival, VETMotorsports, SCCA Women on Track, SCCA Archives, and more.
The SCCA Foundation is currently accepting donations earmarked for SCCA Women on Track and for its other initiatives. SCCA members should head to the SCCA Foundation’s website to discover more about the not-for-profit charitable organization, along with how they can earmark their donation for the program of their choice.
Photo of Natalie Haizlip (left) by Patrick Torbik
Photo of Casandra Light (right) courtesy Casandra Light