LADIES FIRST: Dottie Patria Among Oxford’s Best
Crazy Horse Racing Powers Patria To Top Of Ladies Division
It took exactly two turns behind the wheel of a race car for Dottie Patria to become addicted to the sport of stock car racing.
Patria, of Turner, has turned that addiction into an assault on the Oxford Plains Speedway record books over the past seven years. With her 20-lap Ladies feature win at the track on Opening Day two weeks ago, Patria sits just two victories away from second on the all-time win list in the division.
“After the first race, I was like, ‘Eh. It’s OK,’” Patria recalled this week. “I was glad I tried it, but it if I’d never raced again I would have been OK with that. But I was committed to running two races, and after the second race, I was hooked. It was like, ‘I LOVE THIS.’”
Patria, who also competes in the Outlaw division alongside her husband, John, as part of the Oxford Acceleration Series on the flat, .375-mile oval, only knew one thing after she won her first feature event – that she wanted to win a whole lot more.
She’s done just fine for herself in that department. With 20 career Ladies division victories, including one by barely the length of her fender on May 20, Patria needs only two more wins to tie Debbie Martin for second on the win list. And with plenty of gas left in the proverbial tank, Patria is within reach of Vanna Brackett’s 34 career victories – the all-time Ladies mark at Oxford.
“The biggest thing is just keeping my head in the game, really,” Patria said, pointing out the door-to-door battle for victory two weeks ago with Tasha Dyer. “We battled that whole race side-by-side. It was really about not making a mistake. I mean, Tasha was fast, and if I had slipped up just a little, she’d have had that race won. You can’t let the other drivers psyche you out. You have to keep your head in the game.”
Patria enjoys both the camaraderie within the Ladies division, as well as the opportunity to race stock cars that the division has given her. But she’s also found that the more recent challenge of competing in the bigger Outlaw division against mostly men has been nearly as rewarding.
“We usually have three Outlaw races on Wednesday nights (at Oxford), one for the high-point guys, one for the mid-point guys and one for the low-point guys,” said Patria, who finished sixth in her 2012 Outlaw debut on May 26. “It’s just so different (in that division), that if I finish in the Top-10 in the middle race, I’m really happy.
“There’s a lot of great guys in that Outlaw division. If anything, they race you a little bit harder because you’re a woman. They’re going to show you how it’s done. Even though it’s the same car, I drive my race car a little differently in the Outlaws than I do in the Ladies. You have to. You have to be more aggressive… You need to let them know that you can take it and you’ll dish it out, too.”
The Ladies and Outlaw division cars are identical, but Oxford Plains Speedway rules don’t allow a driver to compete in two different classes on the same night in the same car. Patria is putting the finishing touches on a new Outlaw car for herself this week – with some heavy reliance on Crazy Horse Racing to get her prepared in time for the first standalone Oxford Acceleration Series Wednesday night program on July 11.
She plans on taking the green flag in both divisions that night.
“A racer is a racer is a racer with (Crazy Horse),” Patria said. “I don’t care if it’s a go-kart or a Late Model or an ACT driver. If you race, you’re an equal with them. It’s unbelievable.
“Our car’s going over there this week to have a (roll) cage put it. This is the middle of racing season – and (Mitch Green) is taking the time to put a cage in an Outlaw car. I think if you called a lot of other car builders this time of year and asked them to do that, they’d be like, ‘Are you kidding?’”
Crazy Horse Racing built the engine in John Patria’s Outlaw car, and they will do the same for Dottie’s Outlaw.
It’s a personal touch that keeps Patria excited about heading to the race track week after week.
“I don’t feel like a customer of theirs, I feel like a friend,” she said. “They do so much for all the racers. They have everything, even for us little guys. It’s not just Late Models. If we need it, they usually have it. That’s big for us.
“They know who you are, and they know you by name and know how you ran almost as soon as you get off the track. It’s really the personal touch that they have. I don’t know how they do it. They do so much for the sport. They really promote the racing everywhere, and they try to do so much for the sport.
“We need more people like that out there.”