Passion for left turns

Senior Alexis Mueller has a passion for racing cars


Her foot pressed against the floor board, she felt the engine beneath her grind and turn. The crowds cheered as she rounded her 29th lap. Alexis Mueller had already begun the hobby of a life time and she was seven.

She races cars on her self made team, Yuck a Puck racing, in the Young Lions semi-pro league.

“My family kind of always grown up with racing, and my dad and I worked on cars together,“ Mueller said, “I grew up around cars, so I really liked the idea of being able to drive one and being in a professional setting.”

To prepare for the race, she runs to get pumped for it, and drives two to four practice runs. Her races can be 30  or even up to 250 laps around 3/8ths or 5/8ths mile track.

“My racing is the exact same kind of racing as NASCAR, paved, oval track. And it’s even at some of the exact same tracks that the professionals race at,” Mueller said.

Every race is worth points, so the more races she is in and gets a good place, the more points she earns. At the end of the year the points are added up and the places in the league are decided. Mueller was 50th in the league out of over 1,000 racers.

Racing occupies a lot of her time, as the track, where she practices, is over an hour away, in Manassas at Old Dominion  Seedway and in Shenandoah at Shenandoah Seedway.  During summer, she practices 3 to 4 times a week, while during the school year she only gets to practice once and sometimes twice a week. Her entire family is involved as its a very time costly sport.

“It’s cool that my daughter races cars because it’s a very unique sport and she does very well in it, and I like that it is very different from what other people do,” her mother said.

Mueller must arrive 12 hours before her actual race begins. Her races can start as early as 12 p.m. and as late as 10 p.m.

In Mueller’s racing career, she has experienced many ups and downs, as many carers do.

“My most exciting moment was my first win; I loved doing my first burnout in front of the track’s grandstands and victory lane,” Mueller said. “While the scariest moment of my racing career was my first race ever in a larger “INEX Legends” car when I was driving early in the race, going about 80 mph and I lost my steering going into a turn and I hit the barriers on the outside AND inside of the track. I totaled the front of my car and broke several bones that night.”

Mueller broke her wrist, pinky, knee, some toes, and her ankle.

Racing comes with many responsibilities, as Mueller goes through a routine to take care of her car so it’s ready for the next big events coming its way.

“Since it (the car) is so susceptible to damage and conditional change. Before and after every race, I have to wipe down the car, wax the car, clean the windshield and mirrors, and complete a series of checks on the suspension, weight, bolt tightness, air pressures, oil and fuel levels, and electronic instrument statuses,” Mueller said. “It is a lengthy process, but very important for the maintenance of the car.”

Since Mueller is a girl who races, which isn’t very common, she has a following in some states.

“It’s kind of cool to go to races and have people there who are following you,” Mueller said.

But at the same time, it’s tough for her to be one of the few girls out on the track. Some competitors don’t treat Mueller very well, and look down at her for being a girl racer.

“There were definitely times when I wanted to quit; after a really tough week of practice and then a loss, after a terrible crash, and especially when I would be put down or talked down to/ treated unfairly by other racers because I’m a girl,” Mueller said, “I have had people intentionally try to wreck me or not shake my hand after a race just because I am a girl, that hurts sometimes.”

Danica Patrick, the most successful professional women racer, has been a role model for Mueller, as she wants to get to where Patrick got, and being a girl as well which is different.

“I look up to Danica just because she’s actually made it so far,” Mueller said.

Although she hopes to go pro, she knows that there’s a slim chance of that happening, so she plans to go to college, and further her education. Like many professional racers, she’s thinking of studying engineering to know more about cars, then try to go professional.

“I hope in some point in my life to be able to go professional,” Mueller said. “But first I want to focus  on things like college.”