Molly Helmuth began racing go karts when she was 11 years old. Her passion for racing quickly grew; by the time she was 14 she had become the youngest driver to ever compete in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Mini-Stock Division at Evergreen Speedway while winning rookie of the year honors in 2010.
On Aug. 24, Helmuth, who is now 25 years old, raced at the Orange County Speedway as part of the CARS Super Late Model tour, finishing in ninth place in the event.
Helmuth joined the CARS tour in 2018, and was quickly faced with a realization. Having grown up in Seattle, Washington, she was making the journey every month to North Carolina to race in the tour’s events, and she decided she would need to move to North Carolina to make it easier on herself to compete in the races.
Luckily for her, she had loved the state since first visiting it when she was 16.
“I’ve always wanted to move to North Carolina,” Helmuth told the News of Orange Wednesday. “I’ve always loved it here.”
Helmuth’s first visit could also have also played a role in her enrolling in Western Governors University, an online college in North Carolina. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from the institution, and currently owns her own marketing company, 9D Creative.
Her academic ambition has not distracted her from success on the track, however. In her first year on the CARS Tour, Helmuth finished fifth in points and was not only voted the most popular driver on the Super Late Model Tour, but also on the National Short Track Tour.
“That’s pretty cool to have the support from all my fans,” Helmuth said. “I put a lot of effort into making sure that my fans are happy and my sponsors are happy. I try to give back as much as possible in my community, so to receive the award, it means a lot.”
On Aug. 24, some of those fans came out to Orange County Speedway to support Helmuth, who remembers growing up at a time when there were not many female race car drivers. She hopes that she can give young girls the hope that they, too, can be a race car driver one day just like herself.
“You always look up to your mom because she’s your family member, but if you have somebody that’s on the outside that can be an athlete, or celebrity, or whatever help you decide your career path, or your goals in life, or just show what can happen if you put your mind to something, whether it’s: be a racecar driver or basketball player or veterinarian,” Helmuth said. “It really means a lot when girls come up to me and say, ‘Oh, I want to be a racecar driver because I’ve watched you for a year now and you really inspire me to do great things in a male-dominated world.’ It means a lot to me.”
Although Helmuth has raced at Orange County Speedway multiple times before, it was her first race at the track this year in front of an environment she said is always exciting.
“It’s actually a pretty cool facility,” Helmuth said. “The racetrack is worn out and rough and there’s cracks that go from the top of the groove all the way down to the bottom that are about six inches deep, so it has a lot of character to it. The fans are really nice there. The environment at all the CARS tour races is electric. They really know how to put on really great events.”
Helmuth returns to Orange County Speedway in the coming weeks. With just a few races left, she hopes to earn a top-five finish in that event to help finish the season on a high note.
“Every race that I go out, I just want to do the best that I can and I strive for top-five finishes,” Helmuth said. “We haven’t really had that great of runs this year, but again, we’re just competing against really, really talented people.”