TULSA, Okla.—Lacey Doyle’s determination elevated her to the top ranks of National Midget racing.
Her work ethic and desire to win keep her in the hunt.
Three years after graduating with an Engineering Technology degree from Purdue Northwest, the 23-year-old Lansing, Illinois native is wearing both shop manager and car chief hats for RMS Racing.
In her first full season as car chief with Justin Grant, the No. 2 NOS Energy Drink Midget team won six races—kicking off with the 2022 season-opening Shamrock Classic in DuQuoin and culminating with the Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ventura. Last year, Grant finished a career-best second in the USAC National Midget standings behind Buddy Kofoid.
Grant expects perfection. Doyle delivers.
“It's mainly the demeanor at the racetrack,” Doyle said. “I work nonstop keeping things organized. I can't not be doing something. I go through my checklist on the car. Grant comes in and goes over the car. He makes sure I tell him what I did based on the notes that we share on our phones. He can change it and I can check in and see if he wants different bars in it, different springs, stuff like that.
“I do my job. He comes in and does his job. Then throughout the night, we know what needs to be done. We do it and maintain calm, cool, and collected emotions throughout the night. We both know what our job is. We do our job, and some nights it pays off with the luck that we get. Some nights, we don't get it, but we just move on and go to the next track and try again and try to be better.”
Doyle didn’t grow up in a racing family. Nevertheless, she found a strong support group there. In high school, she opted for shop and welding. In her spare time, Doyle worked in an auto shop. She perfected her skills in college working on a Baja car.
“The whole concept of racing came from when I was in college doing a Baja team,” Doyle said. “We actually designed and fabricated our own off-road car to compete. We went to competitions, and the concept of racing came into play there. That kind of got me interested in it.”
Doyle’s grandfather suggested she reach out to Envirofab owner Joe Kocjan. An inquiry via messenger led to a welding job. Kocjan’s support of Thomas Messeraull’s racing efforts ultimately led Doyle to an opportunity with RMS’ team owner Dave Estep in 2020.
When Clinton Boyles left RMS at the end of 2020 to pursue other options, Doyle was offered the shop manager position. Under the direction of crew chief Donnie Gentry, Doyle began working on Grant’s car in 2021. Gentry’s departure opened the door for Doyle.
“When I showed up in 2021, she was part of the team and was working under some of the guys they had on the cars,” Grant said. “I noticed that she worked very hard and paid attention to what she was doing. She started helping me more and more with my car—and I could trust her. She didn't get distracted. She saw a job all the way through. When Donnie left, we decided that she would just come on my car full-time. I told Dave I wanted Lacey on my car.
“She works really hard on all these cars. The cars are always prepared and nothing falls off. She's open to me telling her what to do, and we'll take that and follow through. It just works really well for the two of us. I'm pretty anal when it comes to race cars. It takes a fair bit for me to be happy with somebody in what they're doing and how they work. And I've been more than happy with Lacey.”
Doyle has tremendous respect for Grant, so much so that she chooses the car chief moniker over crew chief. It’s not that she doesn’t aspire to be a crew chief one day. Doyle simply believes Grant deserves his due.
“The first time I was interviewed, I didn't like taking that spotlight away from Justin,” Doyle said. “He sets up his own car. I didn't walk in there and start setting his car up and technically crew chiefing his car. I never told him he should put this on it or do this to the car. I was just there to work on the car.
“When people ask, I reply, ‘I'm not a crew chief, I'm just the I'm just the guy that works on the car.’ That's where the car chief thing came from. Justin spent so many years building that knowledge base for himself for his car setups. So I didn't want to like take the credit for that. Calling myself car chief, I take the credit for doing the work and all that, but it still leaves Justin as essentially the crew chief. Normally, nobody else touches his car except for me.”
The partnership has paid off. Grant’s confidence in Doyle allows him to concentrate on the job at hand—winning races. During last year’s Chili Bowl Nationals, Grant won the Race of Champions, led all 30 laps of his qualifier and finished second in the feature. Should the team win the Golden Driller on Saturday, Doyle might not be able to hold back her emotions.
“I would probably cry,” Doyle said. “I shed a tear when Grant won his prelim night last year. It would be tears of joy because I know how much it means. It means a lot to me because I work on these things every day. It’s all I do.
“I'm so proud of our team as a whole. For my bosses, it would mean the world to them, because they have been doing this for years. If I were to be able to help, if that happened, that would just mean the world to me because my guys are like family. To bring a Golden Driller home would be amazing.”