Don’t underestimate an Asian woman with mission and a passion. Verena Mei is a member of TrueCar Racing’s “Women Empowered” Initiative and a Rally America Driver. She’s appeared in the blockbuster movies “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” and “Rush Hour 2.” I got a chance to meet and talk with the beautiful and affable “fastest Asian-American female in the US” at the Indy Grand Prix Sonoma races this past Saturday.
First All-Female Team to Win a Rally America Championship
Santa Monica, CA, August 15, 2012 -- Rally America announced today that TrueCar Rally Driver Verena Mei and co-driver Leanne Junnila have been awarded the inaugural Rally America B-Spec National Championship driving the #335 TrueCar Ford Fiesta, making them the first all-female team to win a Rally America Championship. B-Spec rally cars are modified for safety and durability but retain the same engine and horsepower as the standard consumer vehicle.
"This title means a lot to me as a member of the TrueCar Racing Women Empowered initiative, and to all of my TrueCar Racing teammates, because now we're part of Rally America history. When people look back on who won the inaugural season of the B-Spec Rally America Championship, they'll see that it was a women's team, and that will never change” added Mei.
Mei’s TrueCar rally team brought numerous years of rally experience and passion for the sport in support of her first year of competing in the Rally America National Championship, and are a huge part of her success this season.
Mei had high praise for her co-driver, Leanne Junnila, her sponsors and New Hampshire-based Team O’Neil Rally School.
“It's such an honor and a huge accomplishment for me and the TrueCar Rally Team, to win the B-Spec Championship in it's inaugural year. My amazing co-driver, Leanne Junnila, has taught me so much and our trust and reliance on each other in the car was how we were able to take the championship” Mei added “I'm so fortunate to have the incredible support of TrueCar, Virgin, Team O'Neil, and Tokidoki, all of whom believed in making my dream a reality. I thank all of them immensely, and I definitely wouldn't be at this point, without them behind me.”
Mei and Junnila will finish their 2012 season at the Olympus Rally in Washington on September 22-23, in the TrueCar Fiesta #335 aka "Trixie".
Follow Verena Mei at www.verenamei.com
The TrueCar Racing Women Empowered initiative was created to support top female racecar drivers in premier racing series, along with rising stars across several developmental series. Through this program TrueCar empowers high-potential women with the tools they need to succeed both on and off the track, including full sponsorship support with top-tier racing teams, professional coaching and training and marketing exposure and publicity. TrueCar Racing currently sponsors women in the following series: IndyCar, Star Mazda, USF2000, World Challenge, Mazda MX-5 Cup and Rally America.
Inaugural B Spec Championship Claims First Title Winner
TrueCar Racing’s Verena Mei from Littleton, NH and co-driver Leanne Junnila from Calgary, Alberta made Rally America history as the first team to win the inaugural B Spec Championship and the first all-female team to win a Rally America Championship. The team amassed 120 points over five Rally America National Championship events with the chance to add more at the Olympus Rally in Olympia, WA on September 22-23rd. Though their success is partly due to showing up more than their B Spec rivals, the team pushed hard to win all their B Spec events. TrueCar Racing only lost to James Robinson from Delaware, OH and James Guitar from Marysville, OH at February’s Rally in the 100 Acre Wood.
"This title means a lot to me as driver of the TrueCar Racing Women Empowered Initiative, and my TrueCar Racing teammates, because now we're part of Rally America history,” added Mei, “When people look back on who won the inaugural season of the B-Spec Championship, they'll see that it was a women's team, and that will never change. My personal goal is to inspire and empower women that they can accomplish anything."
Mei is in her first full season campaigning a 2011 TrueCar Ford Fiesta as the only national all-female rally team. She comes from a drifting and time attack background before making a huge commitment to rally racing. She began her rally career at the 2011 New England Forest Rally under Team O’Neil Rally School’s guidance to learn the secrets of speed on dirt. (Get to know Verena Mei better: rally-america.com/news/latest/1118/)
Source: Rally America
Leads 36 Other Drivers in Overall Rally America National Championship Standings
TrueCar Racing Driver Verena Mei finished this weekend’s Rally America National Championship event, the New England Forest Rally, in 7th Place in the hotly contested 2WD Division. Her finish was especially significant as it was the one-year anniversary of her first career rally race at the same event last year. Mei has finished five of five races this season, which is a critical factor in the physically and mentally punishing rally racing format that takes place at very high speeds on rough dirt roads, in all weather and often with low visibility.
With one event left, Mei stands at 5th place in the 2WD division, with her #335 TrueCar Fiesta the only production car in the top 5. While others in the class compete with highly modified versions of the stock car, including added horsepower, Mei’s TrueCar Ford Fiesta carries the same 1.6-liter 120-horsepower engine that powers the consumer version that can be purchased on TrueCar.com. In only her first year competing in the sport Mei is also ranked 15th overall nationally ahead of 36 other drivers.
Join us in celebrating Verena’s one year anniversary in rally racing! She always brings her good luck charm, Porcino, and we know he has loved every minute of the ride! Check out some pictures of Verena and Porcino at the New England Forest Rally below, and stay tuned because Verena and Porcino are taking the rally world by storm!
Our very own Porcino got the chance to hang out at the Indianapolis 500 over Memorial Day weekend with TrueCar rally driver Verena Mei! Porcino was incredibly excited to be able to attend, and luckily for us he took tons of pictures!
TrueCar Rally America driver Verena Mei will compete in the 4th Round of the Rally America National Championship Series, The Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally (commonly know as STPR) in Wellsboro, PA June 1 – 2.
Mei and her co-driver, Leanne Junnila of Calgary, compete as the only all-female national team in Rally America. The duo solidified their lead in Rally America's B-Spec National Championship after an impressive top ten finish at the Oregon Trail Rally earlier this month.
The STPR course is not only fast, with speeds in the dense forest reaching more than 100 mph, but also slippery and very dangerous. Rally America is quoted as saying "this rally is not for the feint of heart."
Portland, OR, May 9, 2012 – TrueCar Rally America Driver Verena Mei and her Co-Driver Leanne Junnila finished one of the most technical and demanding events in the Rally America National Championship at the top of the Factory B-Spec Class and top 10 overall in the 2012 Oregon Trail Rally, in a field which included 350 horsepower, AWD Open Class cars and competition from drivers including former British Rally Championship, Winner David Higgins.
Portland, OR, May 9, 2012 -- TrueCar Rally America Driver Verena Mei and her Co-Driver Leanne Junnila finished one of the most technical and demanding events in the Rally America National Championship at the top of the Factory B-Spec Class and top 10 overall in the 2012 Oregon Trail Rally, in a field which included 350 horsepower, AWD Open Class cars and competition from drivers including former British Rally Championship, Winner David Higgins.
“When Verena first came to me and said she wanted to rally I told her to start with the school, then co-drive then finally drive and she has done everything I asked of her,” O’Neil said. “The way she went about putting her program together is text book. She is extremely intelligent and her marketing background has served her well. She won a class in Formula D so she has the ability and she has gone about things every methodically and building her confidence in the car. She is fast and she is tough and I am excited to see how her season unfolds.”
TrueCar, publishers of new-car-transaction data, revealed plans for a multiyear push into motorsports sponsorship but with a twist. TrueCar will throw its money behind female racers in premier series and up-and-coming ones in numerous development series.
"TrueCar is built upon the foundation of empowering individuals with the tools and resources they need to become expert car buyers," TrueCar founder and CEO Scott Painter said. "The Women Empowered initiative is an exciting extension of that philosophy--empowering women in racing by giving talented female drivers everything they need to dominate their sport."
Five drivers have been confirmed for the 2012 TrueCar Racing Team. Shea Holbrook (Pirelli World Challenge), Ashley Freiberg (Star Mazda), Shannon McIntosh (USF2000), Verena Mei (Rally America) and Emilee Tominovich (MX-5 Cup) make up the inaugural class so far. TrueCar is in sponsorship discussions with an IndyCar driver and also will support an all-female Baja 1000 team in 2012.
TrueCar support also will be present at a grassroots level with a young-driver development program aimed at exposing young women to racing at a karting level. Top prospects will receive support from TrueCar throughout their careers in what might eventually turn into backing for top series such as American Le Mans, Grand-Am, IndyCar, Global RallyCross and X Games Rally.
"Despite their considerable talents, women have yet to achieve the sponsorship opportunities, recognition and championship successes that we believe is their due in the only sport where men and women compete head-to-head," said Charles Kim, director of motorsports for TrueCar. "Our mission is simple: to empower these talented drivers and help them become future racing champions."
Michael Zimicki, who has coached the likes of Danica Patrick, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal, serves as a consultant on the TrueCar initiative. "The program that TrueCar has announced today is the most comprehensive support of American racing ever done, be it open-wheel, sports car, rally or off-road. And the real kicker is that it is in support of women. This is a revolution," Zimicki noted.
In addition, rally whiz Tim O'Neil will serve as an adviser throughout the season.