College student during the week

CSB student is a decorated race car driver on the weekend

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November 19, 2012

By Jillian Birkholz '15

By day, Gabby Volkers is a typical College of Saint Benedict student. She attends classes, sings in music ensembles and plays intramurals. That's not the case on the weekend. That's when Volkers can be found behind the wheel of a four-cylinder, front-wheel drive, gutted Dodge Neon racing around a 3/8 mile dirt oval track.

For the past five summers, Volkers has been racing cars in the Hornets division in central Minnesota. "I spent the summer of 2007 riding along with my uncles and watching them race," Volkers said. "I figured that if I was going to go to all the races, I might as well just bring a car to race too."

During her first racing season, Volkers was involved in a rollover when she was hit on the driver's side door and rolled twice. She walked away with only minor injuries.

"It was scary, but actually quite a thrill," Volkers recalled. "It definitely makes for a good story. However, my mom begs to differ. She actually doesn't come to watch me race anymore because she gets too nervous that I'll get into a crash like that again."

Volkers' first win came during her second season of racing at the Princeton Speedway in Princeton, Minn. She started out in 13th place and was able to work her way to the front to take the win.

"I remember being surrounded by all male drivers when the top five finishers met at the tech-shed," Volkers said. "They were shocked when a young, 17-year-old girl came out of the first place car. And honestly, I think I was just as surprised as they were! Not many people can win a race starting all the way back in the seventh row"

When Volkers isn't racing, she is working to earn a degree in management at CSB. She is only in her third year of school but is on track to graduate in May 2013. Volkers chose to major in management because it is a broad major that opens up a lot of options for her after graduation. With her management degree, Volkers hopes to land a job in the marketing field with a company that is affiliated with one of her many interests.  

"I tend to be very determined," Volkers stated. "If there's something that I want, I do whatever it takes to get it."

In addition to her school work, Volkers also plays intramural volleyball and softball, hunts and fishes, participates in a CSB/SJU choral ensemble, and works at both the Blazer Athletics department and St. Cloud Aviation. She was drawn to CSB because of the wide variety of opportunities the school has to offer to cater to her adventurous spirit.

"Liberal arts schools look for well-rounded people and I've always been well-rounded, so it seemed like the perfect fit," Volkers said.  

Volkers' determination pays off both on the track and off. She has to work hard to earn the respect of her competitors in a male-dominated sport. This winter, Volkers will be accepting a trophy and personalized jacket for earning the title of the 2012 Track Champion at Princeton Speedway of the Hornet Division. During the 2012 racing season, Volkers earned six feature wins compared to the runner-up who only earned one.

"I'm proud when I tell people that I'm a race car driver because I love serving as a positive role model for females," Volkers stated. "I enjoy being able to exemplify to young girls and women of all ages that anyone can break gender barriers and exceed limitations as long as they put their mind to it. It can be a lot of hard work, but it sure is fun!"