Cover Photo © Bruce Nuttleman / UltimateLapPhoto.com
Samantha “Sammy” Linnehan has raced in the Hornets at the LaCrosse Speedway for the past four years. As with all racers in the north, Lineman is always thinking about racing, even when there is snow on the ground.
Bruce Nuttleman: How did it come about that you would drive a race car?
Sammy Linnehan: “Growing up at the track every weekend cheering dad on was a big part of it. I loved every part of being there so I figured I’d give it a whirl!”
Bruce: It should be no surprise that her favorite memories from the track stem from when her dad, Dan Linnehan had a banner year in the Sportsman Division at LaCrosse.
Sammy Linnehan: “He was so close to championship in 2006. He worked his butt off that year and deserved it. Just watching him out there was amazing. I know I was little yet but that stuff I can’t forget. But unfortunately, the championship was taken away with a couple health issues.”
Bruce: So I guess I don’t have to ask you who your biggest fan is?
Sammy Linnehan: ” Dan the Man Linnehan “
Also known as my Daddy. The picture was taken the year he was leading The Grand National Sportsman Points and wound up in ICU unfortunately because of some problems at the dentist.
I don’t know what I’d do without him. I’m a very lucky daughter to have a Father and a Crew Chief all in one. Not very many people get to say they have that in their life and I’m honestly blessed for that. Before I never realized how amazing it felt to reach your dreams. I couldn’t thank you enough
Bruce: Tell me about May 11th, 2013
Sammy Linnehan: “May 11th, 2013 my first feature win.
One of the happiest days of my life! Honestly a day I will never forget. I remember calling dad right before I went out because he couldn’t come with me that night. I was so scared so I needed one of his special pep talks before I went out. Not many girls get a kick out of this stuff but to me it’s kind of a big deal! Its like a feeling I couldn’t even explain coming to that checkered. I started screaming and laughing right as I hit the line. I couldn’t even stop shaking I was just so happy! Hopefully to have many more of those feelings!”
Bruce: Well, since you mention it, you are a girl. The hornet division at LaCrosse is not unlike similar divisions at other tracks. It can get kind of rough. What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned over these past four years that help you compete better?
Sammy Linnehan: “I’ve learned a lot with racing with the guys. Some will be your best friends or your worst nightmare out there on that track.
Last year I learned a lot being the only girl out there in that division. The guys are going to treat you just like your one of them out there it may be rough or it maybe easy. They will try to walk all over you because you are a girl and this ain’t a girl sport, well they are wrong. And I didn’t let that stop me. It got to me a few times but I didn’t let it stop me from doing what I love and that’s racing.”
Bruce: You have named your car Polly. Where did that name come from?
Sammy Linnehan: “Her name? Lol well its kind of a weird thing I do. Since she is a probe I was trying to figure out a name that started with a P. I did it with my street car as well! You don’t hear polly very often so it stuck with the car. And even stuck with the fans, racing families and even drivers. Alot of the drivers would just come up to me and be like hey how was polly out there for practice or just ask about her. I think it just makes things fun and who doesnt like fun? It’s one of a kind and i like to be a little different.”
Bruce: I see your car has been getting special attention this winter. Planning anything different to knock down the Hornet Championship in 2015?
Sammy Linnehan: “We are planning to go big or go home this year. We were so close to the 2013 championship that we are all in this year. 2014 we didn’t have the best of luck but we are planning to be in the chase this year again, can’t knock us out. So be in for a surprise!”