WINNIPEG – Winnipeg-born race car driver Amber Balcaen made history as the first Canadian woman to win a NASCAR-sanctioned race in the United States and now she’s eager to get back behind the wheel after a devastating crash that sent her to hospital only months ago.
A little over seven months ago on a dirt racetrack in Missouri, Balcaen lost control of her vehicle sending herself flying into the air, smashing and rolling. She suffered a severe concussion, a collapsed lung, and burns to her body.
“I first woke up in the car hanging on the fence so I could kind of hear the paramedics and stuff around me and then I passed out again, woke up in the ambulance, when I woke up in the ambulance I couldn’t feel my arms or legs so I thought my racing was done,” recalled Balcaen.
Balcaen says over time she regained the use of her limbs and after several weeks was able to walk again.
She says within days of the accident she knew she still wanted to race. Mentally, it wasn’t hard to get make the decision, she says, as crashing is part of the sport.
ICON, a manufacturing company from rural Manitoba, stepped in as Balcaen’s new sponsor, getting her a full season at the Bill McAnally Racing academy, a new NASCAR development program.
“To have a Manitoba company backing a Manitoba girl racing on the big stage in the united states is truly amazing and I think such a cool story in itself,” she said.
Balcaen has already made racing history as the first Canadian woman to ever win a NASCAR race in the U.S. in 2016. Now she has her sights set on breaking more records and continuing to create more racing “firsts”.
“There’s definitely no fear going into this. I’m just thinking about winning as many races as possible and hopefully winning the championship too.”
“You know, I’m one of the very few Canadian females in NASCAR, so I want to try and make every history-breaking record I can. And this year is just another opportunity to do that and it would be awesome to have a Canadian female in the top series of NASCAR or any of the national series so I’m going to work as hard as I can to get there.”