You’ve got to feel for Maryeve Dufault. Sure, she’s beautiful, well travelled and an extremely talented driver. But, as a new competitor in the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide series, she’ll face the Herculean trial of being compared to Sprint Cup’s Danica Patrick every five minutes.
For the last few years, the native Canadian worked as a model and Hollywood stunt driver to fund her smaller circuit racing. Competitive driving was always her first love, whether it was go-karts, snowmobiles or motorcycles. So, she smiled her way through a tour as a Price is Right Barker-beauty and print modeling gigs until she sped up the ranks to her current spot in a Dodge on the Nationwide circuit.
But, with Patrick starting her famed career in the Indy Car ranks and moving to the Sprint Cup tracks, it seems inevitable that every up and coming lady racer will battle some sort of comparison to everyone’s favorite GoDaddy.com spokesmodel.
It’s an understatement that Dufault is eager to prove she’s her own woman with her own racing style. While prepping for the Nationwide kickoff, she connected with Crave Online to look back at the unique road she ran to stock cars.
CraveOnline: You worked your way up through the racing world. How does it look for you standing where you are right now, compared to even a year or two ago?
Maryeve Dufault: I’ve been in the racing world me entire life, and I’ve really been working on my own marketing for almost 20 years. I’ve been to China and England, always racing different circuits. Modeling was always a side job for me, and I used that money to go racing on the weekend. I’m at the point now where I can focus on my racing, and I’ve earned that.
When I first tried stock car racing last year, I just fell in love with it. Dodge wasn’t interested in just adding a female driver who was pretty for marketing purposes. They wanted one who could drive. Fortunately, I passed that test.
CraveOnline: As you prepare for the Nationwide season, how much time do you spend on tracks practicing?
Maryeve Dufault: Obviously, it’s not like basketball – where you just grab a ball and go to the park to practice. It takes a lot of preparation time, money and planning to go out to a track and test. So, you don’t really test that much. You might test for a day or two at a track prior to the start of a race during the season.
I spend more time training myself physically and mentally to be prepared to race. I spend more time testing in my go-kart to keep my reflexes tuned to racing. I do my own tuning on my go-kart to make it harder or softer in the turns – always to squeeze another 10th of a second out of it. It all helps to keep me focused for racing.
CraveOnline: You’re a woman in what has been considered a man’s sport for a long time. Do you encounter any backlash at the track during your races? Do you have to work harder than a young male driver would have to work out there?
Maryeve Dufault: I’ve been involved in the sport for a long time, and I see the same pattern repeat itself whether it was go-kart or stock cars. If you’re a confident driver, and you know what you’re doing, your job remains the same. After a while, the other drivers learn to respect you on the track.
I’ve been in a race where someone took me out for no reason. But that just means you have to put your foot down and do what it takes to be up there in the top 10. You have to be strong to be a woman in this sport.
CraveOnline: How will you handle the constant comparisons to Danica Patrick?
Maryeve Dufault: I have respect for her, but I think we’re different enough not to be compared all of the time. I think it’s more of an issue of marketing to compare us to each other. We’re two different people, and we’ll both be doing our own thing.
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS