Last season Mandi finished the year 3rd in championship points and was awarded the late model "Rookie of the Year" title.

Local teen finds life in the fast lane - 4/8/08

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Local teen finds life in the fast lane - 4/8/08

Nineteen year old, Amanda "Mandi" Tonchuk, is doing something not many teenage girls think about. She races late model stock cars at the 1/2 mile New Smyrna Speedway in Samsula, Florida. She is the only female racing in the high powered late model division on a regular weekly schedule.

Last season Mandi finished the year 3rd in championship points and was awarded the late model "Rookie of the Year" title. It's not easy for a female to gain respect in such a male dominated sport but Mandi has done just that. She has shown that she can be competitive and at the same time earn the respect of her fellow drivers.

Now, with a new racecar and the under the watchful eye of local racing legend Bobby Sears, Mandi is setting her sites on the championship. It's not going to be easy. There are a lot of fast cars in the late model division but Mandi knows she also has a fast car and is confident in her own ability as a racecar driver.

If you would like to meet Mandi, you can find her almost every Saturday night at New Smyrna Speedway near Orlando, Florida. Look for the black #18 and come by and say hello.

New Smyrna Speedway - 5/12/07

We were still having some handling problems when Mandi started 4th in the feature race. The car was "pushing" really bad but Mandi did her best to overcome the handling problem. There were several crashes on the track that she did a nice job of avoiding. Mandi was still holding her 4th place position when another car got around her and she finished the race in 5th place out of thirteen cars starting the race.

New Smyrna Speedway - 5/5/07

Mandi's first time back to the track in three weeks was going to be a test of the car and see what additional changes have to be made after repairing all the damage. Mandi was supposed to start the heat race on the pole but the fact that they started the race before everyone was in their starting position caused her to start 5th. She finished the heat in 4th place. The same nonsense again caused Mandi to actually go into the lower part of the track in the dirt just to be able to get to her starting position. In doing so, it seems she picked up something on her left rear tire to cause it to lose air. Needles to say the car wasn't handling right but she manged to bring it in to a 7th place finish.

New Smyrna Speedway - 4/7/07

We have good news and bad news. The good news is Mandi won her heat race. She did a fantastic job of going to the lead and holding off all the other cars to take 1st place. This was Mandi's first win in a Late Model. The bad news is the feature race didn't go so well. She was doing very well until after coming wide out of turn two she got too high on the track and her tires picked up some trash and lost grip. Mandi spun in turn three and backed the car into the wall pretty hard. This same thing happens to the best of drivers in the fury of racing and Mandi proved that she is going to be a very competitive racer. She's fine but the car has some significant damage so she will probably not make next weeks race. The Late Models don't run the following two weeks after that so Mandi won't be back until May 5th.

New Smyrna Speedway - 3/31/07

Tonight was Mandi's second race in a Late Model. Practice went well but it was hot and the track was slick so not much was gained except some seat time. There were heats and features tonight. In the heat race she was cautious and raced the 6 lap heat without incident. The feature race lineup had Mandi starting on the outside pole. There was some talk about her starting in the rear instead but Mandi felt confident and the decision to let her start up front was made. There was some exciting racing with Mandi holding off some of the slower cars and chasing the faster ones. The race ended with Mandi in 4th place and another great job of driving. Good job Mandi.

New Smyrna Speedway - 3/24/07

Mandi's plan was to get a lot of practice in before racing at New Smyrna Speedway. After all she has never raced a Late Model and only had a few practice runs at Orlando Speedworld. None of us are actually sure how it happened but here we were at the racetrack facing a few laps of practice and a 20 lap feature race. Practice went very well, and seeing that Mandi could handle the powerful car, the decision was made to let her race. Mandi made the choice of starting in the rear of the field and was hoping to stay with the pack and stay out of trouble. It was comforting to know that she had racing legend Bobby Sears on the radio with her.

Mandi did a fantastic job of keeping up and even passing a car during the race. She got into some pretty close racing a couple of times but she handled that very well. There was a scary moment when, coming out of turn two, her car got a little loose and instead of spinning she held onto it, jumped on the throttle and shot down the back stretch that surprised even herself.

All in all she did a great job for her first time "ever" racing a Late Model and is looking forward to racing again next week. Mandi had an official 6th place finish.

Prior Years

With her dad Paul's help, Mandi began racing karts on the dirt in Orlando, Florida at the age of 11. By the end of that year she was East Orange County Raceway's 1999 Go Kart Jr. Restricted Track Champion. She gained much experience racing against other boys and girls her age at Ocala Raceway, Lakeland Raceway, Dirt Devils and Port Saint Lucie.

In May 1999, she started racing her Ford Escort in the Junior Division 4 cylinder bombers at Orange County Raceway. Because she has been in a few fender benders and a couple of rollovers, she has replaced her car twice with other Ford Escorts.

2003 Early in 2003 her father purchased a mini-stock and she started running with the big boys on the asphalt at Orlando Speed World.

In 2004/05 she raced a limited mini stock schedule at Orlando Speedworld until she and her team decided to purchase a Late Model. The motor is being completely refreshed and the car should be ready for New Smyrna Speedway very soon.

2006 Mandi raced in the Late Model division at New Smyrna Speedway. She is catching on quick and during her third race in the Late Model class she won. Mandi definately likes the more powerful Late Models and is hoping for a shot at Rookie of the Year and a top five finish for the year.

2007 Mandi finished the year 3rd in championship points and was awarded the late model "Rookie of the Year" title

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