Candyce Marsh - Not Your Typical Racer

By Jim Luikens

Candyce Marsh
As an aspiring young racer Candyce Marsh is like many others that have similar goals. She comes from a racing family, has been around racing all of her life, is a second-generation driver and dreams of a future as a well-funded, professional race driver. Unlike most other young racers however, she has a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Accounting and Business Administration and just this month added her Masters (in Industrial Technology) from North Carolina A & T State in Greensboro. Oh...and did I mention that, in addition to being well educated, she is well spoken and personable? This is the story of Candyce Marsh, who is not exactly your typical racer.

Even as a youngster Candyce's parents always stressed the value of scholastics and the importance of a well-rounded education. For extracurricular activities during her high school days she took dance lessons and piano lessons in addition to her studies. She also excelled as a cheerleader and always loved to read. Although she is passionate about her racing she states that she would probably be an accountant if she wasn't able to race as a profession. Her sincerest desire is to never have to consider that alternative.

Candyce's father is retired drag racer Clarence Marsh. Clarence, who was a Super/Stock participant in the 70s, had advanced to Top Sportsman and Quick 8 competition before eventually hanging up his driving gloves. His last race car was a 1996 Chevrolet Corvette that was powered by a 632 CID big block and equipped with electronic fuel injection. Today, he remains involved in racing as an active member of his daughter's racing team as well as being co-owner of Candyce's Firebird.

Marsh in her Top Sportsman car. Candyce started her racing career about the time that Clarence stopped racing. At the tender age of 17 she began competing in Hot Rod Eliminator with her first race car, a 1989 Chevrolet Camaro that was powered by a 498 cubic inch big block Chevrolet engine. She started racing this car during 1998 and remembers her first IHRA national event as a driver very clearly. No, she didn't win the event but she did get past the first round, which was almost as good as a victory to her, and she met Harold Martin.

Marsh in her Top Sportsman car.
After racing in H/R for two and a half years she sold the Camaro to a North Carolina racer and purchased the Pontiac Firebird that Harold Martin had been racing in Pro Modified. She used this car, which had been originally built by Alan Pittman, for Top Sportsman racing at divisional events. In 2001 she expanded her racing schedule to include some participation in T/S at IHRA national events.

The next year her schedule grew again and this time it included almost all of the IHRA national events. In 2003 she ran every IHRA national event except two and followed the same schedule for 2004 with one important distinction. In 2004 she began to go some rounds for the first time at these events as her experience level grew. She is very proud of the fact that she qualified in the top half of the field at every event where she participated. Even more importantly she never lost in the first round at any of those events. Avoiding first round losses is a key ingredient for any racer that has world championship ambitions. Candyce's team also has Best Engineered Car and Best Appearing Crew awards to show for their 2004 season.

For 2005 the Marsh team has been focusing on R & D for their upcoming move into Pro Modified. After beginning the season in Top Sportsman Candyce had hoped to move up by the ACDelco Virginia Nationals in Richmond. The late arrival of some important parts needed for the change in classes has caused her original timetable to be moved back by a race or two but the conversion will still happen this summer.

A very important component of this upgrade is the sponsorship that she is receiving this year from the Bar's Leaks company. Bar's Leaks, a long-time supporter of motorsports, is the major sponsor on her car and an associate sponsor on Harold Martin's car. Her association with Bar's Leaks, and teammate Harold Martin, is a major boost for her program. She and Harold talk after every pass and discuss tuning strategy for her next run.

Candyce is realistic about her goals and expectations from her imminent move to Pro Modified. Her desire is to be competitive and compete well but she is aware of the learning curve that she faces. She appreciates the obstacles ahead and looks forward to being challenged to find ways to overcome them.

Besides her father other important members of her team are Maurice Bea, Gary Cox and Dion Allen. Maurice, a Top Sportsman racer himself, serves as the crew chief for the team with his primary focus being data analysis. Gary is the lead crew person and he is capable of doing anything on the car that needs to be done. Dion assists Maurice and Gary where needed but his real specialty is component fabrication and he is a definite asset to the team.

Although Candyce is very goal-orientated she has been careful not to set any specific long-term goals. She wants to remain open to a wide variety of possibilities and not find herself limited to a specific direction. Candyce prides herself on being fan-friendly and loves to talk with her fans. Although racing has its own vernacular and jargon she takes particular care to include non-fans in the conversation. This way they can feel included even if they don't know the latest racing lingo.

Candyce has a variety of skills and an entrepreneurial spirit that should serve her well as her life and her racing career unfolds. Just like the up-and-coming young racers that are driving increased interest in NASCAR Nextel Cup competition she is part of the next-generation of racing. To paraphrase an old saying, "her future's so bright she has to wear shades."