Last year I got to meet and talk with Warwick, RI driver Jessica O’Leary, and I was amazed at her schedule she is going to be running this year. She’s going to be driving her Legends Car at the Seekonk Speedway along with a handful of shows at the New London – Waterford Speedbowl, but she’s also going to be driving a Sportsman Modified on a limited schedule at Monadnock Speedway. So to say her summer is going to be full of racing and traveling is an understatement.
She got her start in racing by watching her Grandmother running the Drags and she got hooked. At nine years old she got involved in Go-Karting.In her Go-Kart she produced three-second place finishes and a tenth place finish in the point parade.
Her first race she entered in was in the SYRA at the Seekonk Speedway and finished a strong fifth. Her first season in the SYRA she produced a fourth place finish in the points battle. She only continued to get better and she won the Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Championship and she was the first woman to achieve that feat and traveled to Charlotte two years in a row for the Inex banquet as the RI Young Lions State Champion. For O’Leary the Triple Crown win was her most memorial moment in racing to date. It was an accomplishment on its own. Being the first woman to achieve this, O’Leary will always be able to look back as that’s an untouchable feat by anybody.
O’Leary basically is the whole package as the now a day driver goes, she just doesn’t drive but she works on her car as well. Her plans right now are to pursue and to get a degree in mechanical engineering. If that not a full plate, she also formed a foundation to support their local pediatric cancer center at Hasbro Hospital. To fill her schedule out, she also takes part in soccer and Lacrosse, throws in a job and when do you really get to see O’Leary away from the track?
For the 2016 season, O’Leary and her team have set some goals that she wants to hit by years’ end. First, in the Legends Car, she’d like to be the Semi-Pro State-Champion, which is definitely within her reach. The second has here learing and getting the feel of a whole new ballgame for her, the Sportsman Modified. “My goal is just to get comfortable in the car and just learn it and get a custom to the track”, stated O’Leary. I see no problems for her in the Legends Car as she can hold her own against the best of them, everybody knows moving from a Legends Car to anything is going to take some time. For O’Leary she’s got her head and mind focused on learning the modified and she’ll settle in just fine.
I got to meet Jessica’s Mom and to say the support is there as a family is an understatement. “I want to thank my Mom and my Grandparents and my very first sponsor, Nancy Gingrich,” commented O’Leary. “Basically all of my family and friends who supported me really means a lot and gave me the support I needed throughout my racing career,” she finished up.
O’Leary does have a ritual before every time she gets behind the wheel, I’m sure it’s going to continue to even the Modified ride. Her oldest sister passed away in 2012 and she has a picture of her in her car, and she’ll pray to it before hitting the track.
The Legends Car that she will be competing in is owned by Alison O’Leary. The #14 Chevy Sedan sits on an Inex chassis powered by an Inex motor. Sporting “A Show of Hands” and Hamel’s Tire as sponsors.
Her crew consists of Crew Chief, Alan Confreda as well as crew members Alison O’Leary, Andrew O’Leary, Victoria O’Leary and Jan Confreda.
The Sportsman’s Modified is owned by Dale Utton and numbered #14RI. The Chevy Cavalier will have a Utton Chassis with the power plant supplied by Luis Rivera. Helping out with the crew will be carried over from her Legends Car team, Alison O’Leary, as well as Alan and Jan Confreda.
Don’t be surprised to see O’Leary stopping by “The Speedbowl” during the 2016 season as the Legends Car National will be held there. She’s got the knack of becoming a great driver and time will only tell with her move to the Sportsman Modifieds, but as any driver will tell you, the more seat time the better you get. And believe me, O’Leary will only get better week by week.
You can find O’Leary on many Social Media sites as well as on her own website.
Story by Alan Piquette
Photos Provided by Jessica O’Leary