By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Erika Detota is not your typical RallyCar driver.
Detota works full-time as a handbag designer. And she drives RallyCars on a part-time basis since 2008 and attended the Team O’Neil Rally Driving School in 2009.
Yet, when she is on the track, she is normally one of a few females on the track. And there have been many races that she has been the only female entered into a race.
But that is nothing new, as RallyCar is a male-dominated sport right now. She has raced against the top RallyCar drivers, including Dave Mirra, Travis Pastrana, Tanner Foust, among others.
“I have had great support from the community and sponsors from early in my career to help me progress as a driver and ultimately achieve success in a male-dominated sport,” said Detota. “It has been a combined effort from my sponsor, Ruge’s Subaru, a dealership, who helps with funding to my coach, who put his own racing on hold to help me. In general, I have had a lot of help along the way, which has given me confidence and focus to keep working hard and win.”
Detota last raced at Finger Lakes in 2012 with Rally America. She finished in fifth place in Group 2, along with her co-driver Allison Hirsch, who ran the Wellsboro, PA course in 1:05:34.4. She raced only four Rally America events last year with her best finish coming at Finger Lakes.
She has not raced in any Rally America events this year. But she won the Atlantic Rally Cup 2 wheel drive NASA RallySport Championship last weekend. Detota’a 126 points beat out Kevin Turner, who finished 40 points behind her with 86 points.
This was her second Rally Championship in her career, as she won the United States Rally Championship in 2010.
“The first year was the biggest learning curve in my driving and having the chance to compete for the United States Rally Championship was unbelievable,” said Detota. “Jason Smith, my coach, spent the year as my navigator and it was a great pay off for both of us to win the National Championship together.”
Detota also won the Carl Merrill Memorial for Sportsmanship Award in 2010. In addition, she was named the New York Rally Champion Rookie of the Year, in 2010, as well.
“The Carl Merrill Sportsmanship Award is granted to a participating team at Prescott Rally in honor of a driver, who was lost at the race,” said Detota. “It was a touching surprise to receive the award for being the first woman to win the championship as driver. Carl Merrill was an accomplished competitor, who embodied the spirit of rally; he gave back and when I was first watching the sport from the sidelines, I admired his Ford Cosworth with purple decals.
“Winning Rookie of the Year from my regional Rally Cup meant a lot to receive the award from my friends and fellow competitors, who in a sense got to see me grow up. 2010 was a season that is hard to beat. However, this year has been really great to have a woman co-driver with me and share my hard work and success.”
And she is doing this without the major sponsors that the top RallyCar drivers have on their cars. But she is sponsored by Ruge’s Subaru of Rhinebeck, New York, Keep a Breast Foundation, Whiteline, Exedy Racing Clutch, HMS Motorsport, DBS USA, and Tony’s Mufflers.
In addition, she uses her car as a mobile billboard with the “I love boobies” campaign. The “I love boobies” campaign was started by Keep a Breast Foundation, as they try to educate women about cancer prevention.
“A few women in my family have had breast cancer,” said Detota. “There are so many people, who are affected by the disease that everyone has their own involvement and story. What attracted me to work with Keep A Breast was their mission of spreading knowledge about prevention and early detection, which I could directly support with the exposure on my car.”
According to the Keep a Breast Foundation, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among American women. And it accounts for nearly 1 in 3 cases of cancer. Today, 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. And a woman in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer every three minutes.
Plus, the chancer that a breast cancer patient will live five years after diagnosis is lower in women, who find it before they reach 40-years-old. Statistics indicate that tumors diagnosed in younger women may be more aggressive and less responsive to treatment, so early detection is the key.
Detota is not the only racing car that raises awareness of breast cancer. In the month of October, many NHRA cars are pink raps on them, or pink colors in their rap, like Alexis DeJoria, is only allowed to have pink bees on her black Tequila Patron Toyota Camry Funny Car.
“In the past few years, I have seen breast cancer awareness become more visible from sports teams to the product in the stores,” said Detota. “It is so great to see the message spread and I think that teams and organizations should consider picking a charitable group to partner with. It has been really fun to be an Ambassador for the ‘I Love Boobies’ campaign, from working in the education booth to being casted myself, KAB [Keep a Breast Foundation] is an awesome non-profit to support.”
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