Featured Racer

Kirsten Gath – Open Wheel Racer

Gath Enjoys First Career Victory at Star Speedway.by Mike Ippolito, Sports Correspondent, Town Crier

Kirsten Gath
odds not in favor…

The odds were certainly not in favor of Kirsten Gath as she and her race car with a newly rebuilt engine line up for the start of the 350 Supermod feature event at Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire recently.

By the end of the race, however, the odds hardly mattered, as the 19-year-old Tewksbury resident had blown away the competition on her way to her first career win, besting some very experienced and very talented racers along the way.

It was a huge moment for Gath, and the crowd in attendance at the Star Speedway seemed to enjoy the win almost as much as Gath herself, knowing how hard she had worked to earn the victory.

“Everyone was really great. When I finished the race and stopped, a swarm of people came down to see me,” Gath said. “My dad said you could hear the crowd going crazy, because they knew I had come so close before.”

fate dealt her a cruel hand…

Yes, Gath had come so very close just the week before to securing her first victory, but fate dealt her a cruel hand on the night, as just laps away from victory she suffered engine failure and had to deal not only with a tough defeat, but also the prospect of rebuilding her engine.

“We thought we had it the week before. We thought it was our night, but the cam let go and we couldn’t get the win,” Gath said. “So we scrapped together a motor and we were kind of hoping just to finish. We did not expect much, but we ended up winning.”

The ‘we’, that Gath refers to are her crew which consists of father Dave Jr., as well as grandfather Dave sr. and cousin Richard. Gath’s father and grandfather got her started in racing about 11 years ago. Dave Jr. raced motorcycles while the elder Gath was a drag racer, so it was only natural that Kirsten would pick up the sport, first as a go-kart racer.

“My dad had taken me to a track where they were racing go-karts and I said Dad, can I have one of those,” Gath recalled. “I got one the next week and it just progressed from there.”

She has progressed to a point where in her fourth year of open wheel racing she was able to defeat the likes of former NASCAR shortrack champion and Star Speedway champ Rob Wilcox among many other far more experienced racers, reaching speeds of up to 110MPH.

“It really felt good to beat those guys because they are so good,” Gath said. “Especially because we did not expect it at all after throwing everything together the way we did.”

Gath is one of few females in a very much male dominated sport, but she has not let that stop her. She says that she is treated fairly by her fellow racers, but at times they do take not of the fact that she is the only female on the track. At least now Gath can find some competition. That wasn’t always the case, as she recalled with a laugh.

I am only 5′1″ …

“When I was younger a lot of kids did not want to race me because I was a girl,” Gath said. “Even now, sometimes when people see me when I pull out, they will think I am just a little girl because I am only 5-1.”

When thinking of female race car drivers it is impossible (at least to me) not to think of Indy car racer Danica Patrick, who thrilled race fans with a near victory in last year’s Indianapolis 500 and brought some great attention to the sport of racing.

With her success, Gath has heard Patrick’s name in comparison to hers on numerous occasions.

“People bring it up all the time,” Gath said. “I think it’s great what she has done. She has shown that women can be successful in this sport, which is great because a lot of people don’t even know that women can do this.”

Kirsten Gath