Dallenbach Dynasty: Kate Hopes to Join Cup Ranks
Both of Kate Dallenbach’s parents raced in what is now called the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and now the 18-year-old is hoping to follow in their footsteps.
The third generation driver is the daughter of Wally Dallenbach Jr. and Robin Dallenbach. While father and son combinations are common in racing, father-daughter combinations are significantly rarer. As for a father-mother-daughter combination? Kate, 18, is the only driver who has seen both parents race in NASCAR.
“I have not only one parent who can give me advice and help me out, but I have two,” Kate said. “So that kind of gives me two extra perspectives whenever I need a helping hand.”
Despite having a pair of parents with Sprint Cup experience, Kate says she doesn’t feel any additional pressure to excel nor does she feel nervous about failure.
“When I’m driving, I don’t really think about anything other than what I’m doing in that moment. I’m just getting extra advice before I get in the car — the little things.
Kate Dallenbach is the third in a line of siblings to take up racing. Her brothers, Jake and Wyatt, both competed in sports car racing — a discipline Wally enjoyed a great deal of success in. Kate is the first to take up oval racing, racing in both Late Models on dirt and asphalt.
“I’m really proud of her and the progress she has made,” Robin said. “She started racing quarter-midgets when she was eight. I was able to help her a lot with that, my dad and I, because Wally was gone a lot with his racing and his TV stuff. Then she graduated to the Allison Legacy program and ran that in Texas for my dad, Bob McCall.
“We just took the steps. It’s been a lot of fun coaching her and helping her, and I’m really proud of what she’s accomplished so far, and I know there’s a lot more to come.”
Kate feels as though she is knocking on the door of a win and has shown glimpses of greatness racing asphalt Late Models for Michael Faulk.
During a race at Southern National Motorsports Park back in August, Dallenbach led laps and finished third. Prior to that race, she was running second and in contention for a win in a Late Model Stock race at Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, North Carolina before mechanical problems sidelined her effort.
Over recent years, women have had a lot more success in oval racing than in previous decades, including the one Robin tried to tackle. Much of that is attributed to an increase in female competitors in the sport, which NASCAR has made an active push to achieve through the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program.
Dallenbach joins names such as Haley Moody, Amber Colvin, Annabeth Barnes and Taylor Nesbitt to have success in asphalt Late Model racing in the Southeast region. Dallenbach doesn’t see herself as another woman in racing but does see herself as a racer.
“The way I look at it, I’m just another driver,” Kate commented. “I guess it doesn’t really matter whether I’m a guy or a girl.”
While women have had a presence in racing for decades, the presence of Danica Patrick has become a source of inspiration for female drivers. Both Robin and Kate look up to the third year NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver as a trailblazer.
“I think Danica is great for the sport, and she does a great job,” Robin stated. “Because of that, it does help other young females coming up in the sport.”
It’s a stance her daughter agrees with as well.
“I agree with what she said,” Kate explained. “She is a role model for a lot of young girl drivers.She opened that up. Now little girls, young girls can say, ‘Oh, I want to do that when I get older,’ and they can now.”
Robin, who competed in NASCAR under the name Robin McCall prior to meeting Wally, feels fortunate that women have additional opportunities now. She recalled when she raced in NASCAR in the 1980s which were, in her words, a different time.
“I think that was before my time. Being 18, I think I was the youngest female to ever qualify for a Cup race. It was a lot different back then than now. I’m just glad that the opportunities are there now for women drivers. That’s helped Kate for sure.”
Robin’s racing experience also helps her bond with Kate at the track – but she is still a mother and often feels the motherly instincts throughout the duration of a race
“I know what they’re going through on the track,” Robin remarked. “I know the emotions of it. I do get nervous watching them, all the kids, so that never goes away. I think they all do a really good job.”
Robin feels her daughter has a bright future in the sport. Kate is signed on a development deal with Richard Childress Racing — the NASCAR team that fielded entries for Dale Earnhardt and Kevin Harvick in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
“I think the next step is for her to start testing a truck and do some [NASCAR Camping World Truck Series] races. I know she was so excited to sign with RCR — with Richard Childress. We appreciate that opportunity, and we’ll see where that goes. She’d like to stay with them.”
Kate doesn’t just appeal to young women on the track but off the track as well. The Dallenbach family is actively involved in outdoors living so it should be no big surprise that Bass Pro Shops and SHE Outdoor are Kate’s primary sponsors.
“SHE Outdoor advertises only to women,” Kate said. “I think they are one of the only hunting lines that are just women.”
“It’s nice to have a women’s clothing line in the sport of auto racing,” Robin explained. “SHE Outdoor is hunting and fishing apparel for women. Back in my time, they did not have specific clothing for women hunting and fishing and outdoor things, so I had to wear men’s. Now, it’s just great to see these sponsors coming into the sport that have products that are tailored for women.”
Dallenbach gained positive attention with her August 1, 2015 performance at Southern National Motorsports Parrk in North Carolina when she scored a fourth place finish. She backed that impressive effort up with a third place finish in a second race. Now all that remains is for the talented youngster to make that final step — towards Victory Lane and NASCAR national touring.
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