By Tyler Hooks
Female Perspective is a periodic interview segment where Tyler Hooks catches up with some of the quickest female names in the hobby. Tune in to find out about their careers, social lives and how they feel about the RC hobby.
Makenzi Harbuck provides a unique female perspective as an elder of what could be considered the East Coast's next generation of drivers. At 22 she, like myself, are old compared to the other drivers we often get compared to as 'the youth.' While she is a fierce competitor on the track and a staple in the open mains on the east coast, she is also the embodiment of the term 'treat others the way you would like to be treated' and in the age of social media is a big advocate for young female and male racers. Her mom is pretty cool too (Her mom told me to say that)!
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TH: You’re one of the older members of I guess what we could consider the next generation of racers, you have had good results, but it also seems like you take almost more pride in bringing other members of the community up. What makes that aspect so important to you?
MH: I’ve had just as many bad days as I’ve had good days. While results are very important to me, I also know how great it feels to hear someone say they were cheering me on even when I don’t always win. Those words of encouragement from others never go unnoticed, and they always push me to strive for greater results. So I try my best to uplift other racers whenever I can because I know how good it feels, and I want them to believe in themselves and know their potential!
TH: Do you feel that you had the same opportunities in the beginning as male racers, how about now?
MH: When I first started racing, I was still just a kid who wanted to race for fun! I feel that once I got older and started to take racing a bit more competitively, that was when opportunities started coming about. Honestly, I think that being a female in the hobby brought more attention to my name and my ability. When I began attending a lot of the bigger events, I became aware that companies and team managers already knew of who I was and saw my potential regardless of the fact that I was a female.
TH: What has been your biggest accomplishment in racing?
MH: There’s a few that stick out to me. Making the A mains in both Open Nitro Buggy and Truggy this year at Wicked Weekend was a big one! Another big accomplishment is probably Top 5 in Open Nitro Buggy at S&B RC Speedway’s Battle of the Sikest race a few years ago.
TH: If you could change anything about your racing career what would it be?
MH: I wish we had a few more tracks in my area so I could race more locally! I try to race as much as I can, but a lot of the tracks involve us having to travel a good bit.
TH: Being a female, do you feel that your treatment within the industry was overall positive and respectful?
MH: I believe as a whole my treatment within the industry has been nothing but positive! I have made some of my lifelong friends in this hobby. The majority of everyone in RC has always cheered me on when it comes to my racing… as long as I’m not beating them in the process of course haha! There are always going to be a slim number of guys who don’t like losing to a girl or who feel that females don’t take racing as seriously as men do. However, I do my best to just let my results speak for themselves!
TH: You have been a role model for quite a few female racers following in your footsteps, is that type of informal mentorship role something you enjoy?
MH: Thank you, that truly means a lot to me. When I first began racing, I was only twelve years old. At that time Ronda Drake was the biggest female racer who had made a name for herself in RC. I ended up meeting her at the Alabama Manufacturers Shootout one year, and she was so encouraging. I remember how awesome it felt having someone as well-known as her show that she had so much faith in me. A lot has changed in racing since then, and now there are SO MANY females entering the hobby! I’ve never really looked at myself as a mentor to other women in RC, but if I can make other girls feel as encouraged and confident in their RC ability as Ronda allowed me to feel then I am happy to do so in any way that I can!
TH: What do you do for work and how do you manage the work/life/racing balance?
MH: I am currently in Cosmetology school working towards getting my Master Cosmetologist license. I also have a job working at a local boutique selling and modeling clothing. Managing work, school, and racing can be pretty difficult at times; however, I have always been pretty determined and persistent when it comes to getting things done so I do my best to make time!
TH: Any words of wisdom for the next generation of girls and boys finding a footing in the RC community?
MH: Always enjoy yourself while racing! If racing becomes solely about the results and your finishes, it can get to a point where you feel discouraged when you have one bad day. Make sure you surround yourself with a good group of friends and do your best to have a good time at the track regardless of the results!
TH: Do you have any racing goals for the future, or do you just go with the flow?
MH: I’d love to get a win or podium at a Racetime Entertainment event! I feel that each big race I go to I get closer and closer to achieving that goal.
TH: Anyone you would like to thank?
MH: Thanks to all my sponsors for their continuous support and for giving me this opportunity! Also a huge shoutout to my family and friends for their support and encouragement. I wouldn’t be where I am without all of your help!