From the drop of the initial green flag this season at Sunset Speedway, the No. 81 Mustang could be seen at the front of the field with Samantha Shaw battling for checkered flags.
Throughout the season, she continued to battle up front with an average finish of 1.75 across the season following five trips to feature victory lane. Ultimately, she would lose out on the championship as a result of missing a feature in June due to blowing the motor in qualifying.
“It’s frustrating to run that well and have one silly thing take the overall away, but I’m still very much in awe of how well we did this year,” she told SHORT TRACK MUSINGS. “I wouldn’t be racing without the support of my family and crew, I can’t thank them enough. My dad, Ken and Carol Spira, Mark Dennis, Steve Laking, Jason Shaw, Dale Shaw, Catrina Curtis, Bev Thring, plus everyone at the Spira Racing shop.”
“There were so many good battles,” she commented. “I think two-three weeks in a row, Dylan (Holmes) and I ran multiple features side by side, having an absolute blast. I got to run (Fall) Velocity nose to tail with Warren (Paxton) for 35 laps. To this day I think that’s one of the cleanest battles I’ve ever had. Then I go out to Jukasa (Speedway) for the first time and somehow come home fourth?”
As Shaw noted, she was not just strong on her own home turf, but was able to have success across the province. She scored a fourth-place finish in the first Mini Stock invitational at Jukasa, followed by an eighth at Sauble Speedway.
“Jukasa was a shock for us,” she admits. “We went to every test session they had and weren’t super thrilled with the lap times, so to come home fourth still blows my mind. “Sauble frustrates me still; we could’ve been upfront a bunch more if my tire hadn’t gone down. Flamboro (Speedway) was not my friend this year, unfortunately. But with all the things the car threw at us that day, I am proud of how we ran.
“I’m not used to the attention quite yet with people naming me as a threat outside of sunset. It’s a huge compliment, and I thank everyone for noticing the work we’ve put in over the years, to be where we are now.”
“Some people think we’re crazy, Dad and I,” she commented. “We scale it almost every week, keep notes during race day of what we need to check or look at, how the car was handling, etc. Constantly adjusting the setup based on what I need. A normal week is still four-to-five nights out in the shop. Thankfully this stuff is what we love to do. Working on racecars and going racing, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
On top of her own success behind the wheel, she is also helping to spread awareness about the ladies involved in motorsports through the “Ladies of the Oval” facebook page.
“I have to thank Randi (Seguin) for bringing me on board to help her with the project,” she said. “We have some great plans for the page and calendar and I can’t wait for everyone to see what we’ve been working on! Our main goal with the whole thing is to encourage a more supportive group. There’s enough drama around racing without the few girls that are there tearing each other down too.
“It’s always been strange to me, being thought of as a role model. I just don’t see myself that way. But if we can get more girls out here kicking all the guys’ butts, I can live with the role model status.”
Based on her years of experience behind the wheel, she says her best advice to the next generation of female racers is don’t try just be the best girl racer – but the best overall.
“It takes time to earn the respect of your fellow racers, but don’t give up,” she commented. “Those both sound cliché, but I live and race by both of those statements.”
As we head into 2020, Shaw is hopeful that there will be more big invitationals as she “so much fun running them” this past season.
“Outside of that, our plans are very much up in the air,” she admitted. “They always are, we don’t usually plan to run “for points” it just happens that way. You’ll be the first to know when / if there is a plan!”