A gifted racer
An early present sent Bryant on track to success
BY FRED JETER
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Published August 29, 2008

AUGUST 29, 2008
SOUTHSIDE SPEEDWAY
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Matoaca's Lindsay Bryant doesn't plan to rest on her success. "My ultimate goal is to race on the Nationwide circuit," said Bryant, who is second in Southside Speedway's U-Car division. Go ahead, blame it on Santa.

For those who have been chasing Lindsay Bryant's racing machines all these years, your racing frustrations can be traced to her fourth Christmas.

While other girls her age were receiving Barbies and doll houses, Bryant woke up to a shiny go-kart.

"I got it from my parents . . . well, Santa," she said.

As for Santa's choice of gifts?

"I was never what you'd call a girly-girl," she said.

Go-karts led to race cars, and now -- at age 17 -- the Matoaca High junior is contending for Southside Speedway's U-Car crown.

With two dates left, she's second in points (out of 37 entries) to Renno Marchetti IV, following 11 races.

"I race clean . . . I'll race ya,'" she said. "Some drivers don't accept me, though. They don't want to shake my hand."

A year ago, in her maiden voyage at Southside's one-third mile asphalt oval, she was third among U-Car racers and named rookie of the year.

Early years: Soon after Santa's gift of speed arrived, Bryant was racing her father, David, in a back-yard track carved out of the Chesterfield woods.

"He tried to spin me out, but he couldn't get past me," she said.

Before long, she was winning races at the Amelia and Capital City go-kart tracks. She accumulated four track titles -- two at Amelia, two at Capital.

"One thing led to another," said Bryant, who dove into oval racing last year at Southside. She also has driven in the Pro-6 class at Langley.

Friday night lights: Most Fridays, Bryant tucks her pony tail into her helmet and revs up the engine of her No. 81, yellow and black, 1990 Ford Probe.

David Bryant serves as crew chief, and there is no shortage of fans in the stands and in the pits.

"My girlfriends come every chance they can," she said, "and my boyfriend works for a driver in another division."

Uncle Joey Bryant races in the Grand Stock class.

And what about mom? Donna Bryant has become a believer.

"At first she was the typical mom, afraid I'd get hurt," Bryant said. "But now she comes to every race. She says I kick butt."

The deal: David Bryant, owner of Bryant's Auto & Truck Repair, insists his daughter isn't afraid of the dirty work behind the scenes.

"The deal was that she would work as hard as I do to get the car ready," David said.

Bryant said: "Lot of long hours in the garage."

Bryant plans to advance to the Modified or Late Model divisions within a few years.

She models herself more after the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. ("my idol," she says) than Indy celebrity Danica Patrick ("I don't follow that much").

"My ultimate goal is to race on the Nationwide circuit," she said.

For now, she refers to her racer as "my baby."

"I take care of my car," she said, "and it doesn't let me down."

Contact Fred Jeter at (804) 739-2219 or fjeter@timesdispatch.com.