Driver of the Month September 2019 – Heidi K. Ellison


Name: Heidi K. Ellison

Age: she left this blank, hence she’ll never grow old.

City/State: Roosevelt, New York

Daily Profession: Network Installation, Lead Technician

Daily Driver: Audi A4

Current AutoX Car/Class: Toyota MR2 Spyder in ES

Family: One son and one daughter

What was you first car? Mazda 626

What was your favorite subject in school? Science

Did you get any tickets as a teenager? I had so many tickets that I received a license suspension order when I still only had my permit. I even had a boat speeding ticket. 

What was your first exposure to motorsports and at what age? I was invited to my first autocross event by two older gentlemen from work who knew I liked spirited driving. Then I started doing events at a local club a little over ten years ago and in 2014, I branched out to try other clubs and with the encouragement of others, National events.

How did you get started in Autox?^

What did you drive during your first AutoX season? BMW 325is

What do you wish someone had told you when you started? For me, it’s less about what someone could have told me and more about when. I wish I learned about autocross much sooner. My love of driving went unchanneled for so many years. I didn’t have any close friends into cars or driving. They all just thought I was crazy. I encourage anyone who is remotely interested to try it.

What made you choose your current autox car? I was offered a local codrive in an MR2, loved the feel of it and was lucky enough to find one almost immediately. It classes better than the CR I’ve been driving the last few years and way better than my E36 M3.

I also love to travel and learned how to pack well, so I find the purse-sized trunk a fun challenge.

Who is your biggest influence in the sport? Nick Barbato’s support and analytical style mentoring over the years has suited me well. I also love Pippa Mann, a British Indy driver. I admire her skills, strong character, and the incredible amount of hard work she puts in.

Funniest autox story, if any? During my first National Tour, I was in line in my M3 with the rest of STU heading to the start. I had my class and numbers on the car ready to go, and a grid worker starts screaming at me, “Ma’am! Ma’am, get out of the way there are racecars behind you!” I was so confused, I was like, “What!? Where do you want me to go?” He yelled, “Anywhere, I don’t care. Just get out of this line!”

I pulled over and my friend, Joe, runs over arms flailing and yelling, “Why did you tell her to pull over!? What’s wrong with you?!” As Joe fed me back into the line, the grid worker realized I was not there for the flea market in the next lot. Kinda freaked out, I took my first Tour run ever with some other class consisting of a Mini Cooper, Mini Cooper, Mini Cooper, and then me.

The scariest moment as a driver? Hydroplaning and barreling towards turn 1 at Watkins Glen International Speedway in the rain  

In the past year or so, what have you learned to help improve yourself as a driver and your car setup? I try to challenge myself and welcome what’s uncomfortable even when I feel like I’m going backwards. Driving different cars, especially the S2000, has helped me build my driving skills. It taught me to use all of my senses to read the car and be relaxed and flexible enough to balance it. I believe in learning on and off the course, reading and research, SIM, visualization and asking top drivers a lot of questions, and then programming in and implementing what works for me.

Do you left-foot brake? In your opinion how has this helped you? No, but I know there are top drivers in both camps.

Do you use a data logger/Video, if so how has it helped you? I use both data and video. They really help take the guessing out of which way is faster on each course and where I can work to improve. I can then implement what I’ve learned to help me tackle future courses. I like comparing against a codriver, but if I’m alone, I get useful data against my own runs too.

Worst autox advice you ever received? Let go of the wheel. -Unnamed source

Best autox advice you ever received? Do what works for you. -Jadrice Toussaint

How do you critique yourself after a run? I choose three places where I had issues, plan and program in specific corrections, and keep in mind how they may affect the following elements. Then I try to go out in a relaxed but energized state, thinking of nothing but enjoying the drive.

What is your primary goal for the upcoming season? Doing well at Nat’s would be nice.

The most fun autocross car you’ve ever driven? The Valera’s SSR Vette did make me giggle.

Least fun car you’ve autocrossed? Hyundai Genesis. It wasn’t set up correctly, heavy and well… the brakes didn’t really work.

If you could pick anyone’s AutoX car to run at Nationals? Mine. I’m exactly in the right place.

What would be your ultimate car build for AutoX? ^

What trophies or titles have you achieved? I won STU at the NJ Tour in 2014 and have a couple of STR trophies.

Websites/Forums/Podcast you check daily? I spend a lot of time working on things for Driving Forward Together along with the other drivers involved. It’s an initiative that supports women in general competition classes and those who want to drive there. We do a ton of data collection, research, brainstorming, outreach and work to connect drivers.

Driving Forward Together

 

Favorite:

Food? Massaman Curry

Drink (alcoholic)? I like bubbles.

Vacation Spot? Norway

AutoX Site? Lincoln Airpark in Nebraska.