Women In Racing - Mianna Wick
Who: Mianna Wick
Mianna Wick, at only 21 years old of age is staking her claim in the vintage Indy car racing world. With striking good looks, most would never guess that Mianna can easily switch between an evening gown and the driver’s seat of her 1996 vintage Indy car. ‘I’ve been driving for 11 years now, and racing in cars for around 3 1/2 years” Mianna describes.
Her journey into driving began when most girls were still playing with dolls. Her father’s job caused her family to move around a lot and they decided to take up a hobby together. They all enjoyed driving go-karts and decided this was a good way to connect as a family. Her father used to be a motor-cross racer and Mianna started driving go-karts at only 10 years old. They loved driving so much that her father even created a small asphalt track at their house . “I can remember just sitting out on the track and spending hours and hours driving to the point that I would run out of gas before I would come in”.
After her parents saw such as passion and dedication for racing, at 12 years old, her parents put her in a local go-kart race in Grand Junction, Colorado, where she took first place. People at the speedway there were very impressed and invited Mianna to a regional race event, where she ended up taking second place and shortly after took first at a national event.
“Over the years I attained many series championships, races, and made my way up to the latter board in racing karts” Mianna said. In the karting series she was in, there was a driver, Phil Giebler, who won rookie of the year in Indy Car in 2007. Seeing great talent in her abilities Phil offered to provide her a test in his formula Ford 1600. “After the test went well, my dad and I spoke to Phil about what I needed to make racing, a career. He suggested that we purchase a race car get extra time to practice. We followed his advice and soon we were racing Ford 1600. I knew it would take hard work and lots of training, so I also joined LoopHole Racing to work on my racing skills” Mianna reflects.
Shortly after she went to a Colorado Hill Climb Association race, she met fellow brothers Bud and David Hoffpair. They had taken an interest and asked her what her aspirations were in racing. “ Eventually Bud asked me if I would be interested in driving one of their Indy cars. Of course I freaked out and said'yes!” After a month passed without hearing back and she nearly gave up on this idea, “I figured it would be one of the circumstances that they offered, but they weren't really serious about”. However about three months after their initial meeting she received a call from the Hoffpauir brothers, inviting her to drive their car.
“My family and I packed up and left that afternoon and drove to the race track. At the end of the day, one of the drivers and team members came up to me and asked if I was ready to drive the car. After a quick tutorial and prep talk from David Hoffpauir and driver Paul Dallenbech, who is Walley Dallenbech Sr son, I was in the driver's seat. These cars are terribly hard to get started and most people stall them. However, I ended up being able to take off the first time through and I took my whopping three laps. But those were the best laps of my life. After they saw my potential the team at Loophole Racing ended up offering me a position on their team and told me they would help train me. This is the time when we got a formula Mazda, and entered the SCCA's freedom sprint national race in 2015. I ended up taking first place by over 30 seconds! After that solid performance, my team decided it was time to move my training up to an IndyCar. I have been training in the IndyCar category since 2016."
D’Laina: “What do you love about racing?”
Mianna: “It is changed over the years. When I first started driving I loved the feeling of being accomplished at something, of feeling like I was actually really good at something. It was nice to have a community and a group to connect with. However, over the years many things have changed that for me. Driving has progressed to be something way more than to help my self-esteem, rather it is become something to help others. Over the years I've watched the community of racing and how great of a community it is. It has really taken my heart and now I feel that it has become my responsibility to share the love of Christ through racing with these people. You know, being able to share my love for Christ, with my passion is why I am here on earth. I also love how in cars I get to connect with fans more. I love how it's about the people, and not just what's accomplished on the track. Don't get me wrong I love everything about driving on the track, I just also love what takes place off-track as well”.
D’Laina: “What are your goals this year?”
Mianna: “In the level of racing that I'm at, as well as in the training program that I'm in, goals are much broader than in a single year. It is about what's accomplished in a single year to progress you forward for every year after that. My goal is to still to become a driver in the Verizon Indycar Series. As for this individual year, my goal is to show up to the race at Circuit of the Americas and finish extremely well. I will be a rookie in the series, so I want to show my race craft and how I am a safe driver on track to others and myself. I want to prove to them that I am a driver worthy of being fully licensed. I, of course as every other driver I am sure, want to finish extremely well and have great lap times, but that's not the main goal. The main goal is to drive impressively and that's not necessarily shown in lap times or track finishes alone.”
D'Laina: “What do you think have been your secrets to success?”
Mianna: “This is a hard question to answer, however I want to answer it the best of my ability. I remember back in my karting days when I asked people for advice on how I could progress my career feeling very uninspired. I remember their responses were generally ‘that's a tough question to answer, you kind of just have to do what you think you can do, there are no rules in making it in racing’. Those responses didn't really answer any of my questions. Now, I do agree with them and that there is no set rule into making it into the professional leagues. But I want to provide better guidance than just that simple statement.
I think the secret to success is believing in yourself. In the racing world you don't often see if what you're doing is really working, until it works. It's a tough world, for instance when you're going to look for a sponsor there's two options, either you gain a sponsor, or you don't. You don't know if you're going to be picked up by a team or not until you are picked up by a team. I think if you observe people who have made it, and even those who haven’t, and listen to things they say you deduct your own conclusion off of that information. This is how you gain secrets to success.
You have to use self-judgment, observe your actions, and whatever choice you make, you have to believe in it. I am a firm believer of that if you believe in yourself so much, other people will notice, it will become contagious, and they will start believing in you too. The secret of success includes putting in the hours, putting in the work, networking, learning the business and how to help businesses, marketing, being a good public speaker, being a good role model to young kids but also being a fun person to hang out with.
Success is about being a good driver on track, and an even-tempered driver off the track. It also includes being passionate about what you're passionate about, bottom line it's about everything you do. It's about dedicating yourself to the process. The secret to success is about knowing it's a process, it's an everyday commitment to chip away at your career so that at the end of the process you will see the benefits of your hard work. It's like the moral in the children’s story about the rabbit and the turtle. The rabbit shot straight ahead and was super fast in the first short run. He thought he was doing so well and decided to give himself a break for his great accomplishments. The turtle on the other hand committed himself to the full marathon, and chose a pace that he could handle. He committed to putting one foot in front of the other, and it eventually paid off. The rabbit on the other hand got distracted and lost sight of his goals.
However, I do have to say that the biggest secret to my success has been the Lord Jesus Christ. He has opened doors that have seemed impossible and provided a path that was clear to me. My career has been what it has been because the Lord Jesus Christ and I have been hand-in-hand through it all.
D’Laina: “How do you work on your skills and improve your driving?”
Mianna: “I do a lot of physical training to keep-in-shape, including weightlifting, P90X, and other sports. My crew chief has also trained me to do some of these great brain games on my phone. It helps my mental state. I have also incorporated handball into my training to hone my hand-eye coordination. It's also about knowing when I need a break in order to have a healthy mind and a good perspective on racing. Yes, even athletes need breaks. On the track my team and I work on different driving strategies, tuning the car, and communication between engineer and driver. I have actually spent almost a whole year just working on my car with my team to help better my communication skills with my engineer. The goal was for me to better understand the mechanics of the car so that I know more about what they're saying. I believe it has helped.
D’Laina “What is it like for you to be one of the few women drivers?
Mianna: “I get asked this all the time. However it's kind of a touchy subject I found. There are a lot of mixed opinions on whether women should or should not be driving. I think that's the beauty in the sport though however. Sponsors and fans who are super passionate about their pick of driver (male or female), which I think helps drives this sport. Some people like the "bad boys "and some people like the "relatable" drivers. In my opinion when people like or don't like a woman in a sport it is just showing their passion for the sport itself. They have picked their driver. I recognize that there will be people who like me and there will be people that won't. I choose to focus on the people that do support me.
As for on track, I view myself the same as every other driver. Male or female we are both under the same circumstances. We are going for the same goal, we are driving the same kinds of cars, and level playing field.
D’Laina: “Anything else you want to share about racing and/or your career?
Mianna: "I wish people knew how amazing of a career racing is. There's a lot more that it entails then just driving on track. However, it is also very rewarding. Racing a car is completely unfeasible unless you have supplementary sponsorship. You might be able to afford to race for a short amount of time, but there will come a time in your career when you must be supplemented. I would not be able to do what I do without my amazing sponsors. My sponsors are some of my greatest fans, my best friends, and they provide support when it's needed. Most partners I currently partner with have been with me from the beginning since karting. I have only taken on a few extra sponsors and I hope I can have as strong of a relationship with them as those sponsors that who have stayed with since karting. I can't wait to see what the future holds for my current sponsors.
This year I teamed up with the company, Stalk It, who creates awesome products made out of corn stocks, such as long boards, skis, and snowboards. The company is absolutely amazing, with a chill personality, and they are a ton of fun to be around. I also have been very blessed this year, and have been able to get my fuel sponsored for by Master Petroleum in Lazear, Colorado. In an IndyCar you burn about a gallon of gasoline nearly every mile or a little over a mile. Therefore, that is been a huge burden of mine that they have taken over this year. Last but not least I want to mention Blackout Graphics, who has been with me since the beginning. They create phenomenal graphics for me when I was go-karting and to this day they still create all of my sponsors logos for my cars. I remember asking them to make a logo for one of my sponsors, and impressively Blackout Graphics came back with a logo that described everything that needed to be described about a sponsor in a single logo”.
Mianna is definitely a driver we will keep our eyes on for her positive outlook, her ability to connect with others and passion for the sport. Thank you for letting us share your story!