Toyota Dirt Racing Spotlight
Car chief for Justin Grant’s #2 NOS Energy Drink Toyota Midget/RMS Racing Shop Manager
Hometown: Lansing, Illinois
While female racers have achieved a number of firsts in midget racing in 2022, RMS Racing’s Lacey Doyle holds the unique distinction of being the only woman car chief in the sport working with Justin Grant’s NOS Energy Drink Toyota. To date, the team has won four national features this year, as well as the Shamrock Classic special event. Currently second in the USAC point standings, they will be looking to earn their first USAC Nos Energy Drink National Midget Series title heading into the seven-race Western Swing where Grant won three of the Swing’s eight races in 2021. Doyle’s duties aren’t limited to car chief, though, she also serves as the RMS shop manager.
- So Lacey, how did you get involved in racing, did you come from a racing family?
LD: No. I was the black sheep of the family. I was a little grease money. I worked at an auto shop for three years when I was in high school doing oil changes and tires. Then I got my bachelor’s degree in Engineering Technology from Purdue Northwest where I built a Baja car in college all fours year. I built two frames, learned to weld, machine and all that in college and high school.
- So how did you get started in midgets?
LD: I started with Envirofab – a metal fabrication company owned by Joe Kocjan, which is the sponsor of Thomas Meseraull’s car – when my grandpa got me into contact with him because he heard Joe built race cars on the side. I had no clue what midgets were, but I wanted to work on race cars. I went to weld for Joe on the fab side. He knew my background of working on the Baja car and he eventually moved me into working on race cars with RSM when Clinton Boyles was our manager. They invited me to a few races, and I was like, anything and everything you want me to do, I’ll do it. Joe and Dave Estep (RMS team owner) actually saw how hard I was working for it and they helped me gain a little respect from the guys. It’s hard to come into a situation like this when you’re a girl and the guys are like ‘don’t touch the car, we don’t know what you know.’ They helped build my confidence in working around the race car. I used to help out on both cars, cleaning up and everything.
Then during covid, I began working for RMS and when Clinton left after the 2020 Western Swing, I was asked if I wanted to be the new shop manager and I said I don’t know everything about how to put the cars together or working on them, but if they gave me the time to learn, I would love to take over the position, along with still working at the track. I was and I still am the only full-time employee working for RMS.
Q? What are your duties as shop manager for one of the top teams in midget racing?
LD: I take care and oversee all the shop, car, and trailer items. Make sure cars have maintenance, that we have all of our spares and that we have everything we need at the shop and the track. I have help from the awesome Envirofab guys back at the shop after races. There were a lot of car-related items that I had to learn in order to do the best job I could. I have learned a lot from Joe, Dave and our drivers about maintenance and building cars. Now it’s come to the point where I don’t need to ask many questions about the day-to-day tasks that I have to take care of. It’s become second nature to me at this point. Being the RMS shop manager is something I proudly tell people as the team has risen in the ranks since they first started.
- Andhow did you progress to car chief?
LD: In 2021 Donnie Gentry became the crew chief for Justin – and Justin was good with me working on the car, so I started working on the NOS car and I started doing more and more set-up wise with him. Then Donnie decided to slow down his schedule, not wanting to race 40 races a year, so he went his own way and Justin said he was alright with me as car chief. He was like, ‘we can do this.” He’ll do the front and we work together. This year is the first year it’s just been Justin and me.
- So you closed out last season with three wins on the Western Swing, then had three more to open the season, what was that like?
LD: It was crazy. It’s a lot more fun when things go your way. It was a cool experience to feel that transition starting. Now we’re racing to win and going for a USAC midget championship. If we won, that would be just insane.
- As the only woman car chief in the sport, how does it feel to be a role model for young women who might want to work in racing?
That’s always been one of the big things for me. In high school, I was the only girl ever to take four years of machine shop. I was in there three hours of my eight-hour day. After I went away to college, I saw my high school vocational instructor who told me that after I was involved, he had four or five girls taking the vocational classes. I loved that because I always wished I had someone that I could look up to. There are a few of them, but not many. There are a handful of women driving race cars in midgets but working on the cars is a whole different story. It’s two different worlds from that aspect.
- Did you ever imagine you would be here in this position?
LD: I always said if I could work on race cars for a living, I don’t care how much it pays, I would do it in a heartbeat. I’m just living the dream.
- What’s your long-term goal?
LD: I want to become an actual crew chief – I want to be the one who makes the call. I’ve learned an insane amount over the last three years, but there’s still a lot I have to learn to have the confidence to put somebody in a car and say go drive that. I’ll make suggestions to Justin. I’m gaining knowledge and confidence. Racing isn’t for the weak. I think I handle it pretty well.
Justin Grant on Lacey Doyle:
JG: Lacey is awesome. She’s always switched on. She’s as good as anybody I’ve ever worked with. When I arrived at RMS, everyone worked on all of the cars and then found the car they were home with. Now we’re more car specific and Lacey worked her way over to my car and I’ve really enjoyed working with her. She does a really good job.