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Hudack makes history at Ashland's ABC Raceway

Ashland’s Tiffany Hudack became the first woman track champion at ABC Raceway in Ashland this season. (Photo by Skip Hunter Photography)

Tiffany Hudack is a competitor, but the driver from Ashland said her No. 1 goal in auto racing isn’t to win.

It’s to survive.

Hudack avoided trouble on the track all season and the results are history as Hudack became the first woman to win a track championship at ABC Raceway in Ashland. Hudack had a commanding 42-point lead over her younger brother, Tyler, going into the weekend and had the Six Cylinder title sewn up after Saturday’s heat races.

“To be the first girl to do this is pretty special. It was a great opportunity,” Hudack said. “It’s kind of the ultimate goal for racing, but every  year, your ultimate goal is just to keep the car rolling in one piece. I just go out there, try to be a clean driver, have fun and stay out of wrecks. I just try to be consistent, and if you do that, everything will take care of itself.”

Tiffany Hudack, 22, is known for being a leader off the track as well.

Hudack was named the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference softball player of the year as a senior at St. Scholastica last spring. She is in her fifth year of stock car racing and her second year in the Six Cylinder class. She grew up in the country just outside of Ashland and has been involved with various forms of racing since she was 4.

Hudack, a health information major, will graduate from St. Scholastica in May and plans on racing at least one more year in the Six Cylinder class.

“This is truly a special event that deserves recognition,” ABC Raceway treasurer Cheryl Klobucher wrote in a Facebook post. “There aren’t a lot of women in racing, and it seems those that are really don’t get the equal treatment they deserve. So younger girls really don’t have examples to look to. Well, now you do girls! … (Tiffany) is going to make a difference in the world because she’s willing to put the time and effort into achieving her goals. And that’s what it’s all about.”

The Hudacks race on a tight budget, so they race in the same class to save money.

“The less time in the garage, the better,” Tyler Hudack said.

Tyler Hudack, 20, was leading in points for much of the season before a couple mechanical issues made him take a back seat to his older sister. First, a radiator cap came loose on his car, allowing coolant to escape. He pulled off in the feature before it overheated. Then, the next week, the engine crankshaft broke in his heat race and he wasn’t able to race the feature. Tiffany, meanwhile, finished all her races.

Tyler Hudack won the feature on Saturday but couldn’t overcome the deficit. He had five feature wins this season compared to one for Tiffany but is still chasing his first track championship.

“It’s alright,” Tyler Hudack said. “Some of my friends have given me a hard time about it, but it’s no big deal. We’re competitive with each other. It goes back and forth.”

Earlier this season Tiffany Hudack became the second woman to win a feature at ABC Raceway, joining Chanda Fjorden-Nord.

Hudack also is believed to be only the second woman to win a track championship at the Northland’s five tracks: ABC, Amsoil Speedway in Superior, Proctor Speedway, Hibbing Raceway and Grand Rapids Speedway.

“The first couple years of me racing was a big change, but not really this year,” Hudack said. “I’ve been there. It’s not a big deal, but I’d like to be an inspiration. I know we have a lot of little cousins who look up to us.”

LeRae Ralidak won three straight Pure Stock track championship at Hibbing from 2008 to 2010, and she also was the first woman to win features at Hibbing and Proctor.

Ralidak, 26, graduated from Minnesota Duluth with a sports marketing degree in 2011. She now lives in the professional racing epicenter of Mooresville, N.C., where she works with a sports marketing firm that does a lot of work with NASCAR.

When hearing about Hudack’s feat, Ralidak said, “That’s awesome.”

“It’s good for the sport,” Ralidak added. “When I first started racing, I was just 14, and it was male dominated. I had to learn a lot, but as I got more comfortable with the car, I got better and better. After a while, I wasn’t the female driver. I was just a driver. I was one of them, and that’s all I ever wanted. I hope I inspired some of the younger girls to want to race, and I hope Tiffany does, too.”

Ralidak laughed when hearing that Tiffany beat out her brother for the title, saying “he’ll never be able to live that down,” but the reality is Tyler wanted to be the first to congratulate his sister. Instead, their father, Mark Hudack, beat him to it.

Tiffany Hudack said the easiest way to earn respect on the race track is by respecting others.

“You can earn other drivers’ respect by being a good driver,” Tiffany Hudack said. “By not purposely hitting people, but if you do cause an accident, get in a wreck or something, just apologize and be nice to other drivers. You don’t earn other drivers’ respect when you go out there and smash someone purposely. After Saturday night, it was pretty nice that a lot of drivers came up and congratulated me. You can earn respect by being a good role model and by being a positive driver.”

Hudack was asked if she finally earned that respect, given that she just won a track title. She laughed and said, “I hope so.”

-- Besides Hudack, Steve Stuart (Modifieds), Scott Lawrence (Super Stocks), Mike Truscott (Midwest Modifieds) and Matt Deragon (Pure Stocks) earned track championships at ABC Raceway.

Terry Lillo (Late Models), Jeff Tardy (Modifieds), Kevin Burdick (Super Stocks), Deven VanHouse (Midwest Modifieds) and Vic Westerlund (Pure Stocks) earned track championships at Hibbing.

Harry Hanson (Late Models), Johnny Broking (Modifieds), Derek Vesel (Super Stocks), Bill Matzdorf (Midwest Modifieds) and Kevin Baumgarner (Pure Stocks) earned track championships at Grand Rapids.