Column By: DYLAN FRIEBEL / RPW – FRENCHTOWN, NJ – If you think of women in racing, who comes to the majority of our minds? Danica Patrick would be a good guess, but why do we focus so much on the people behind the wheel and not the ones behind the wall or in the pits?
If you know anything about local dirt racing here in the northeast, and have paid attention to social media surrounding it, then you know the name Mandee Pauch. While she was born into racing, that doesn’t mean anything is being fed to her with a silver spoon in the slightest.
“I was born into it,” she commented. “I think my first race was in 1993 or 94 at Flemington Speedway. I grew up watching mostly sprint cars in the 90’s. When my dad decided to come back to modifieds we came back to modified country and now thats my main thing.”
Pauch loved the sport of auto racing from the early years, and was intereted in being a part of it, no matter what.
“When I was in late high school, I started looking into working for race teams at the track and I knew I wanted to make something out of it,” she said. “I got my first shot in Public Relations working for Action Track USA and even went on the road with the Super DIRTcar Series for a year. But, I missed my family. I still stick with Modifieds and have my own Public Relations business.”
Every Wednesday during the off-season, or when Mandee attended a race, we all have become accustomed to checking out her greatly-anticipated vlog which would be released online.
“I started out just trying to get more comfortable being in front of the camera,” she said. “It kicked off so well because the everyday fan enjoys seeing behind the scenes stuff. Now-a-days, the cameras are mostly pointed towards the track, but I feel like you have to give more of a sense of what happens off the track. It makes my videos more ‘family-friendly’ and gives people an idea of how much goes into getting to the racetrack night in and night out. I’m glad people enjoy it.”
Being a female in a male-dominated sport can be hard sometimes, and even Mandee sees it.
“Being female definitely helps me attract more people,” she said. “It’s a shame that it’s like that sometimes. It’s not just about being a female or looks that goes into it. You also need to have the personality and the knowledge for it as well. If i didn’t have the background I have, I don’t think I’d be doing as well as I am.”
Despite being born into racing, she wants people to know her for her body of work.
“I am trying to make my own name for myself, but sometimes I’m still known as ‘The Kid’s’ daughter,” she said. “There’s not a lot of women around, especially in the Modifieds and I don’t fit your typical wife, daughter, sister type of mold. Some days I sit there and wonder what would it be like to sit at home in the air conditioning watching TV while I’m helping Mike (Mahaney, her boyfriend and racer), my dad or brother wash their cars from the night prior.”
It’s a question that keeps Mandee guessing every day. However, she knows it’s for the love of the sport.
“We put a lot of time into this and it’s frustrating sometimes,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but in the end, it’s all worth it. I just hope by doing these videos and everything else I do, i inspire other females in the racing world to step up their game and to not be afraid. Being a female in this sport, there will always be comments. It takes some thick skin to be able to handle it, but you can’t let them stop you. Don’t let anyone hold you back from what you want to do.”
Behind every great race car driver, more than likely, is a woman who keeps him under control and cheers them on. We all need to take note of that and encourage it. Mandee Pauch is just one of many who are trying to make a name for themselves at the local level. and hope to make an impact in one little girl’s life that would make it all worth it.
They’re not found behind the wheel of your local Saturday night dirt track, but instead behind the pit gates cheering on their loved ones and giving us all a new perspective.