Lacey Doyle. (Photo by Rich Foreman)
At last year’s Chilean Bowl Nationals, as RMS Racing’s Lacey Doyle and Justin Grant’s crew chief Donnie Gentry stood side by side watching Grant cut laps at the Tulsa Expo Racetrack, Gentry hinted to Doyle, “Now that’s your car.”
Unbeknownst to her, Gentry was planning to drop out of the mill full-time for USAC midget competition and had his eyes on Doyle to take over Grant’s midget setup. The subsequent conversation that led to Doyle becoming the solo head of Grant cars occurred at the RMS Racing shop in Cedar Lake, Ind. , and went something like this:
Nod from Grant. “I’m cool with that.”
A nervous shrug from Doyle. “Yeah, Justin and I can handle it.”
Doyle joined RMS Racing in 2020 – the midget team that runs cars for Grant and Thomas Messirule – and quickly moved up the ladder in the organisation. She went from welder to shop manager within the first year, working alongside Gentry on Grant’s dwarf in 2021, and once Grant agreed and Gentry was out, she took over the full Head of Autos position in 2022.
She is the only auto boss in the USAC’s Midget National Circuit.
“I never had a goal of being an automobile director, or a goal of managing a team,” Doyle said. “I didn’t know anything about sports, so I was just trying to do more and be better at what I do.”
While her background in mechanical engineering prepared her for the new venture, the RMS shop was her official introduction to the world of midget racing. With Gentry’s instruction, Doyle slowly begins to learn the ins and outs of the car.
“Donnie always took the time to teach me things and tell me why we were doing this, or doing that. He would answer every question I had, even if I asked him a third time,” Doyle recalls.
She credits her “wanting to do it” as the reason she got the job and also mentions him as the reason she and Grant had so much success during their first year together.
Despite the rocky start, Doyle and Grant collected a midget six victories in 32 starts – including a win at the night Grand Prix in Turkey.
The two fine-tuned their race day routines during the chaotic season and have come to a place of synchronicity.
“Our behavior on the racetrack, we don’t get angry. We just do what needs to be done. I know my job and he knows his,” Doyle said.
While Grant gives input on setting up the vehicle and communicates openly with Doyle about what needs modding, she has a firm hand in the rest of the process—which begins the moment the vehicle is unloaded from the trailer.
Her first step is always to fill the tank with gas. That way, she says with a laugh, “at least the car will run.”
Last-minute changes or races that come down to the wire often bring extra stress to Doyle’s board, but for the most part, it feels like she’s on autopilot and simply doing what she’s learned to do.
She became known on the team as the woman who “gets it done”, even by Meseraull, the driver of RMS Racing’s No. 7x midget.
“It didn’t take long to go from welder to crew worker in a race car,” said Messerole. Since Doyle focuses primarily on the dwarf Grant, Meseraull refers to her more as a “friend and teammate” than anything else.
He’s presented it several times on “TMezTV,” his growing YouTube channel, including an episode he follows about the one-day race shop. Watching Doyle’s fan base grow as she continued to be in the pits was a highlight for Meseraull.
“Now, there are girls who come and want to get her autograph,” Misraul added.
However, Doyle’s all-time high arrives on nights when all is going well and she has done her job as car boss. Just like any driver lining up on the track, often the best reward is the sweet feeling of victory.