Rising up from ARCA stock car racing to the NASCAR Nationwide Series, there is a new reason why people may tangentially care about NASCAR. Her name is Maryeve Dufault and this is everything you need to know about this model-turned-badass.
When I say that Dufault has become a badass now that she has a seat for the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide season, I'm not exactly telling the truth. This French Canadian got started racing since she was four years old, starting off in motocross and breaking both her arms before she turned nine. So she has a history of being tough.
The first time you might've heard of her was back in 2000, when she won the Miss Hawaiian Tropic International beauty pagent. She spent the next few years working in Hollywood, being prized for her looks and her skills. The first job she landed here in the States was as a model on "The Price Is Right," but she also worked as a Hollywood stunt driver.
As any race car driver will tell you, working your way up in racing is extraordinarily expensive. Without a rich family to fund her, Dufault had to rely on her modeling work to pay her way through go karts long before she won Miss Hawaiian Tropic. When asked about the money she made off her looks (Miss Hawiian Tropic brought in six figures alone), she told The New York Post:
I wasn't buying myself clothes. I was buying tires. I am a racer who uses modeling jobs to pay my bills.
With her modeling money, Dufault started moving up as a driver, starting in the Skip Barber Racing Series, Star Mazda, Formula cars in England and China and finally signing on as a development driver for a Canadian/American IndyCar team in 2010.
Her breakout year came in 2011. She joined the ARCA Racing Series at the end of 2010, so 2011 was her first full season competing in stock cars. Driving in many of the tracks used in NASCAR, she finished 16th in the standings, despite having missed over a quarter of the races due to a lack of sponsorship. In August she got her first drive in NASCAR Nationwide, a feeder series to the Sprint Cup major leagues and she'll be running a full season this year in a Quebecois Dodge Challenger.
She won't be challenging the leaders this year in Nationwide, but we are looking forward to seeing more women in racing, especially someone as driven as Dufault.
Photo Credit: Getty/Maryeve Dufault
(Hat tip to One Hot Lap!)