As Tracy Gaudu was growing up, she always liked Chevrolet Corvettes, and the thought of racing the sports car was a far-fetched dream.
In early March, Gaudu participated in her first wheel-to-wheel race in her C6 Corvette Z06 after years of competing in Time Trial and autocross events. Coming off her first provisional race in Super Unlimited at Road Atlanta, there is no looking back.
“After the race, I came off and the adrenaline was so high,” said Gaudu, who faced some mechanical gremlins on the weekend. “We were in tech getting all our safety equipment checked and (the racers) were all very supportive. They were like, ‘You did great. How do you feel? Do you feel like you want to go back to Time Trial?’
“To be honest, because the next session was Time Trial in 20 minutes, I didn’t want to go do it anymore,” she added. “I’d never thought I’d feel that way.”
The long and winding path to a competition license for Gaudu has given her the experience and comfort level to run in Super Unlimited, the fastest class in NASA. Like many grassroots racers in NASA, Gaudu does it all by herself from towing to minor repairs, though she uses a local shop to maintain the Corvette.
Gaudu went into the Air Force straight out of high school and believes her six years of military experience prepared her for the male-dominated sport of auto racing.
“I was very shy. I couldn’t really talk to anyone I didn’t know out of high school,” Gaudu said. “But going through (the Air Force) gave me confidence. It makes you sort of a tougher exterior in a way where you can handle things.”
Gaudu’s military time set her up for a career as a physician assistant in Johnson City, Tenn., where she specializes in vascular surgery. She frequently picks up extra shifts to help pay for racing, which Gaudu does 10 to 12 times per season.
“I have a pretty high-stress life, but racing is not stressful,” she said. “It helps me not think about anything but me and the car and what’s going on out there, so it’s sort of a release. It’s just fun for me.”
When Gaudu bought her first Corvette more than a decade ago. she quickly immersed herself in the Corvette lifestyle by attending car shows or driving to a lunch destination with other exotic car owners. That got old quickly for Gaudu, who bought a trailer, learned to tow with a Toyota Tacoma and started doing autocross events. In her first year in autocross, Gaudu won a national championship.
Gaudu competed in Time Trial for several years, and stepped up her game for the 2018 season when she bought a new engine from Lingenfelter Performance.
“I was sort of middle of the group in TT1 and thought the horsepower would help me,” she said. “Other than the motor, when things would break, I would replace them with more high-performance things, but I didn’t run out and do a lot of that. I kind of slowly evolved with the car, my driving.”
Gaudu had her breakout season in 2019 winning Time Trial 1 and followed it up with another championship in TT1 in 2020.
“You have to have a special skillset to do Time Trial, to get that hot lap fast,” GauDu said. “But let me tell you something. I love being in the mix with other cars. I always wanted to do the wheel-to-wheel, but I didn’t think I was ready. That was always my excuse.”
Scott Oliver, who has known and raced with Gaudu for three years, said she has an undeniable passion for auto racing, and loves talking about Corvettes off the track.
“She’s super friendly and super humble, but when she gets in that racecar, she’s ferocious,” Oliver said. “She wants to be better and she’s not afraid to ask questions where a guy might come into that same situation and be a little egotistical and not ask questions. When she asks questions, she’s absorbing all this information to improve.”
Oliver is impressed with Gaudu’s self-sufficiency at the races, but thinks she needs to partner with another race team or race shop to have sustained success in Super Unlimited.
“I still bring people to the track and that’s why I have a co-driver, so they don’t have to worry about anything,” Oliver said. “The driver has one thing to worry about and that’s being fast and smooth. Tracy doesn’t have that luxury right now, but that’s why I respect her because she’s doing it.”
Gaudu started using data in her Corvette Z06 two years ago, and what she has learned from the APEX Pro has significantly helped her race craft. Working with an instructor to review and interpret the data, Gaudu made changes that helped her break through to the next level.
“I was old school about it. I thought I’ll just go get seat time, and seat time will help,” Gaudu said. “It does help, but if you really want to get faster and better, you need data. I know the tracks, but there’s little things that you can do different and it’s amazing how much time you can shave off.”
With her improvement on the track, Gaudu stepped up her marketing efforts and last year designed a new logo for Team Tracy Motorsport. Her marketing efforts helped win a new 24-foot trailer from inTech Trailers in Indiana. The process involved submitting a video and getting friends, family and supporters to vote for it online. The third year was the charm when Gaudu won the $20,000 trailer she now uses to haul her Corvette to races.
Gaudu has never had dreams of racing professionally, but hopes to be a role model for young women getting into auto racing. Gaudu is quick to talk or take a photo with young girls at the track to promote the sport.
“I look around and I wish I saw more women, and I’m trying to get more of my friends involved with it,” said Gaudu, adding, “The beauty of racing is the car doesn’t really know if I’m a woman or a man, and unless you know who is in the car, you probably wouldn’t know by looking at the car and how it’s driving.”
|Hometown:||Johnson City, TN|
|Racing Class:||Super Unlimited|
|Sponsors:||inTech Trailers, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, RaceChick, Trackdaytire, GSpeed, Proauto, Redline Ace, Track Shaker, Chosen Payments, Unique Kar Kare, Kim’s Gold Dust, RacingJunk.com, CarChix, Motul.|
|Day Job:||Physician assistant|
|Favorite TV show:||“Formula 1: Drive to Survive”|
|Favorite Movie:||“Smokey and the Bandit”|
|Favorite Book:||“The Art of Racing in the Rain”|
|Favorite Track:||Road America|
|Dream Racecar:||My current racecar|