By Adrienne Gruben
Recent friends Michele Abbate and Jessica Dunford represent the newest, youngest wave of aspiring lady racers and grease monkeys, and while it’s super tempting to focus on their manners and cute-ness — which might not immediately spring to mind writing about fella drivers — what does make them like any other aspiring racer is their passion for all things torque.
A Junior majoring in Marketing and Communications at UNLV, Las Vegas native, Michele Abbate competed in her first Autocross at age 16 in a 1999 Pontiac Grand Am GT in North Las Vegas where she applied her childhood experiences with indoor and outdoor karting. In 2006, her first year of competition, she placed first in her class, and 2nd overall in Ladies PAX points, just 1 point away from first place. Entering her first track day in April of 2009 at Spring Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, NV, by the end of that year, Michele had placed within the top 5 of the Redline Events.
Jessica Dunford grew up in Washington State, where she competed in regional and national artistic rollerskating championships. A fan of monster trucks growing up, when she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, while other little girls said “princess,” Jessica said, “The Gravedigger.” An avid break-dancer, Jessica joined MazdasNW, where she fell in love with the mechanics side of things, started test driving cars, and also, car modeling. She moved to California in 2009 to pursue a career in dance, but opted out, and instead, joined Mazda Owners Club of California, and has consistently done events with them since. Jessica drives a 1992 Corolla, and would like to further her love of turning wrenches by going to mechanics’ school.
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