When Tracy Gaudu learned she had been selected to join the top 12 candidates for the Hoosier Heroes program, she had to pinch herself. Even after more than a decade of dedication to the sport, it still didn’t seem possible.

“It was a shock, really. I didn’t even know I was in the running until a representative at Hoosier told me via e-mail that a lot of folks had nominated me for the Hoosier Hero award,” said Gaudu, the Super Touring series leader for NASA Southeast.

More than 300 racers from all over the world were nominated for the 2024 Hero award, but Hoosier cut that number down to 25 through the first round of the sorting process. After a few weeks of voting, the final 12 were announced at PRI in December 2023 — 15 years after Gaudu began autocrossing. The majority of the chosen dozen are professionals with curated social media accounts, but Gaudu has not tried blazing that path just yet.

Her relationships have been formed the old-fashioned way, through maintaining connections and building a résumé that would make any advertiser pause.

“I just love Hoosier — they really are the best, man,” Gaudu gushed.

Quick Climb

In 2008, Gaudu picked up a C6 Z06 to dip her toes in the racing pool. It all began modestly, going to autocrosses every so often and treating her new Corvette with due respect, if not a little trepidation. “I didn’t really know how to drive a standard back then. When I brought it home from the dealership, I nearly launched it through my garage wall. I was worried I might’ve bitten off more than I could chew.”

But clutch work came naturally to her and soon she began displaying the work ethic that’s carried her to where she is today. Gaudu was running three autocrosses a month, hoping to win the National Council of Corvette Clubs National Championship. Even though she had to learn so much that season, she managed to clinch the title.

After relocating to Johnson City, Tenn., she began running HPDE with NASA Southeast. Her new track friends suggested she try her hand at NASA Time Trial, but Gaudu wasn’t sure she was ready. They were adamant. After all, she had already proven her potential, though perhaps she had difficulty recognizing it. Winning the 2019 and 2020 NASA Southeast TT1 titles, as well as the 2021 TTU title helped pave the way for another bold leap into Super Unlimited.

“To be honest, I was getting a little tired of Time Trial after three years of it, but, at the same time, I wasn’t sure I was ready for wheel-to-wheel. I knew it would cost a lot more, and I wasn’t sure if I had the racecraft needed to compete, but I listened to a few of my friends and, after a little bit, thought ‘You know what? It’ll only make me better running with these guys.’”

It Takes Everything

That attitude helped her make a name for herself as a talented newcomer, and her total dedication to her craft made her a standout. Gaudu works five days a week as a physician’s assistant in vascular surgery, and takes part-time hours in the trauma center on weekends — anything she can do to fund her costly hobby. Consider the fact that she’s a one-woman team who handles all the prep herself, and you have to wonder how she manages.

The workload weighs on her, but timing has been a large part of her protracted performance over the last five years. “Whenever I’m exhausted and feeling low, something good seems to come along in the nick of time. That’s what I rely on to keep me going.”

When Hoosier picked her as the one driver who epitomizes their values of “passion, pride, and success in the racing industry, both on and off the track,” Gaudu got the pick-up she desperately needed. She also received more of the Hoosier rubber she’s sworn by since the start of her autocrossing career, no shortage of Hoosier swag, and even an article chronicling her achievements in the Johnson City Press.

The prize put a little more wind in her sails, and provided a way to keep her finances under control. This is an expensive sport, and even people putting their everything into making it out every other weekend could use a little support. Gaudu exemplifies near-total dedication to motorsport, and the fact that Hoosier has recognized this should give other aspiring drivers a little more motivation to push themselves and cultivate that sense of possibility that’s helped Gaudu accomplish as much as she has in just several years.

As of 2024, she shows no signs of slowing down. “‘I’ve been running at a hectic pace the last 15 years, working as much as I can to fund my racing and trying to accomplish as much as I can as a driver. When it comes down to it, I just love competing in my Z06. There’s nothing else like it.

“One day, I’ll want to stop working so much,” she added, “but I truly hope that day doesn’t come for a very long time.”

Images courtesy of Hoosier Racing Tire Corp and Jim Voss


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