Casey Madsen, 16, stands in front of her No. 18 Ford Mustang 2 on Thursday afternoon. Madsen started competing at Hayden Speedway when she was 15, after growing up around cars.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

Casey Madsen, 16, stands in front of her No. 18 Ford Mustang 2 on Thursday afternoon. Madsen started competing at Hayden Speedway when she was 15, after growing up around cars.

Moffat County High School student competes at Hayden Speedway

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Casey Madsen sits in her racecar Thursday afternoon. Madsen grew up watching her dad race before getting behind the wheel herself.

Casey Madsen didn’t have a driver’s license, yet she was competing against some of the best racecar drivers in Moffat County.

“I’ve been going to the track since I was young with my family,” Madsen said. “When I was old enough, I seized my opportunity.”

At 15, Madsen climbed behind the wheel of her No. 18 Ford Mustang 2 at the Hayden Speedway, and went for it, she said.

“I was scared and nervous the first time I got on the track,” she said. “I didn’t really know what to do besides turn left and go fast.”

Madsen, now 16, is a senior-to-be at Moffat County High School, but she competes with men and women in their 30s and 40s Saturday nights on the track.

“My dad raced before I did and I loved watching him do it,” Madsen said. “After awhile, I decided that it was what I wanted to do.”

Working in the garage with her father, John Madsen, on cars, Madsen said the speed bug bit her at a young age.

Her father has the same passion, she said, but he has taken time off from racing to watch Madsen pursue her dream.

“I grew up watching my dad and his friends race,” Madsen said. “I always wanted to be them and race the cars.”

Madsen doesn’t participate in any other organized sports because she hasn’t found anything that can compare to the thrill of racing, she said.

“I just wanted to be in the car and experience that thrill,” she said. “The driver doesn’t know what’s going to happen and that is exciting.”

Being a “speed junkie,” Madsen said there is no other feeling like being on the track.

Madsen said she also enjoys one other activity — music.

Being in the MCHS marching band, jazz band and concert band, she said she wanted to find a way to mix music and racing.

Before one of her races, Madsen said she turned on some of her music and it helped her “escape” from the surroundings.

“Music calms me down,” she said. “It relaxes me, and I don’t think about anything else except for what I am about to do next, which is race.”

When it comes to being a girl who races, Madsen said she has heard one common misconception — girls can’t race.

“Girls can do whatever a guy can,” she said. “My rookie year, in my class, the top three finishers were women, with me on top.”

After winning the track championship in the sport class, Madsen said she credited all the help she received from others to her success.

“My dad always told me to just catch the person in front of me,” she said. “I didn’t know much when I started, but (my dad) and his friends really helped to keep me safe.”

Luckily, Madsen hasn’t been involved in any big crashes.

“The worst accident I was in was when Izzy (Hitz) spun out in front of me,” she said. “I only had a split second to think, but I just wanted to put myself in the best position to continue.”

Isadora Hitz, or Izzy as Madsen calls her, is one of Madsen’s best friends because of racing.

The two met when Madsen first started at the speedway, and the friendship quickly grew from the track, to off it, she said.

“We basically went from helping each other work on the cars to hanging out when we had free time,” Madsen said.

The girls have become so close, Madsen said, that they have a nickname — Quick Chicks Racing.

“I saw it one day in Grand Junction and thought it fit us perfectly,” she said. “Izzy loved it and we just started calling ourselves that.”

As Madsen approaches the end of her time at MCHS, she said she would like to keep racing after graduation.

“I want to go to other racetracks around Colorado,” Madsen said. “I’ve only raced at Hayden so far, and I want to see what other places have to offer.”

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