When stepping into the world of racing, the smell of pungent diesel and burnt rubber along with the sound of engines roaring is expected for drivers like Ashley Weber.
Driving fast is ideal in Weber’s world, 21, a mechanical engineering major but the feeling of racing with other people and “leaving them in the dust” is a concept very few people understand.
“Growing up, I thought, oh, I want to be like a soccer player… I mean, I loved all those pursuits,” Weber said. “But then you kind of get to a point where I was like, this is not the path I want to go but I loved being able to do these things. And racing is something that I haven’t lost that drive for.”
For as long as Weber can remember, racing and cars were part of her upbringing.
From watching races on the TV to watching her dad, Mark Weber, work on the family car, a grand wagoneer. When Weber was 10-years-old she attended her first NASCAR race which got her into racing.
“Having 40 or so cars going by in a blur, the noise, the sensory overload of the cars going by [while] all the fans stand up cheering, it’s kind of that atmosphere that kind of left me in awe,” Weber said.
By the time Weber was 18-years-old, she had driven a range of cars including indoor electric karts, which go up to 45mph, to 100cc karts, that have little lawnmower engines and can reach up to 70 mph.
The learning curve was not steep for Weber due to her prior experience driving electric karts at K1 Speed, an indoor entertainment center.
After ditching the snail pace electric kart and transitioning to 100cc karts, it took Weber three days to train with an instructor to get the hang of applying brakes on the track and gas control.
“I think I was definitely going faster than everybody else,” Weber said.
In the world of racing, going fast is ideal, but for Weber, so is safety which is not always guaranteed when she races.
A particular incident that stands out in Weber’s mind was her last race of the season in October 2021. During the first lap coming into turn three, someone spun out, and Weber went low to avoid colliding with the car.
Another driver decided to go high and drove straight into the other driver’s side.
“I had a full view of that but that was kind of scary because, holy shit, that’s actually the worst place you could get hit is the left side because that’s the closest you could get to the driver,” Weber said.
Weber said both drivers were fine but it’s a constant reminder for her that racing is a dangerous sport and the chance of injury is high.
Despite the collision, Weber remains motivated to pursue her goal of competing in the National series and obtaining sponsors to fund her passion for driving.
Weber said going to the Nationals isn’t a dream, but just being in the sport of racing in any capacity is enough.
“It’s literally a community. You’re always there for each other. Sure, you might have your own little rivalries in the pits,” Weber said. “But when it’s all said and done. You’re all doing this pretty much for the fun of it. And it’s mostly all about just kind of having a great time.”