Driver Amber Colvin, 17, knows she has a long road ahead of her to become a NASCAR champion one day.
The Mooresville resident already is putting in the work and making sacrifices this summer in hopes of getting herself noticed and making that dream a reality.
Colvin is one of hundreds of racers participating in Charlotte Motor Speedway's Summer Shootout series, which in its 18th year pairs some of the best competitors in Bandolero and Legends racing.
The Tallahassee, Fla., native got her start in racing after getting a go-kart for Christmas when she was 10. She said she was a natural.
"I did the only thing I knew: I pushed the pedal to the metal and went as fast as I could," said Colvin.
Seeing that his daughter was outgrowing the kart's capabilities, her father, Wayne, bought her an old racing kart that he rebuilt in his shop. With Amber's upside starting to show, her dad decided a brand-new racing kart would allow her to show her full potential.
After two years racing go-karts, Colvin began racing Bandolero cars. She impressed, winning four of her first five races and finishing second in the Georgia Winter Points Series in Atlanta as a rookie.
Colvin said that by then, she was hooked.
"I love everything about being at the racetrack - the atmosphere, the smell, everything," she said. "Once you race, it's in your blood. You're stuck."
In 2008, Colvin moved up to Legend cars. She competed in 39 races, claiming 36 top-10s, 24 top-fives and six wins during that span.
Because of her accomplishments, Colvin was honored with the 2010 NASCAR Diversity Young Racer Award at the Daytona 500.
Earlier this year, her family decided to move to North Carolina from north Florida - where Colvin says racing opportunities come few and far between - so she could get close to what they hope is an opportunity in NASCAR.
"We wanted to race against better competition, just racing at the right place in front of the right people," said Wayne Colvin.
After having participated in two Summer Shootout races - one in each of the past two summers - Colvin decided she wanted to participate in the entire 10-race series, which runs every Tuesday and select Mondays through the end of July. With drivers coming from as far as California and Canada, she said, it was important for her to show she can compete with better talent.
"The Shootout is the big show," said Colvin, who's racing in the Semi-Pro Legends Car division. "If you're anyone or want to be anyone, you come here. To win here, you have to be the best."
Colvin is also competing for Revolution Racing for 10 Legends and 10 late-model races. In addition to racing on the Concord racetrack, she'll enter events at Hickory Motor Speedway and other tracks throughout North Carolina.
Heading into this week, she's been in 11 races this summer and has nine top-five finishes and a win.
"I feel like I'm doing OK," she said. "I still have some speed to find, but I've been consistently running in the top five, so I'm happy with that."
Colvin, who hopes to race a full late-model car season next year, enjoys working on her car. With the help of Chris Rogers Motorsports on her setup, Colvin works on her own equipment. She spends hours in the shop with her dad.
She said that aspect of racing is important to her.
"A lot of drivers, they just drive, but I'm the opposite: I enjoy working on the car as much as I enjoy racing it," she said.
Colvin also enjoys how different racing is from other sports. She also likes to prove herself to her male counterparts.
"There's not a lot of females in (racing), but I like that - I feel like I'm breaking down a barrier," she said.
Although she said she's treated differently at times, she says there's nothing to do about it but earn respect by showing what she can do on the track.
"You're doing what's supposedly a male sport, but who says that a female - that I - can't do it?" said Colvin. "In my opinion, I can do it just as well as the boys."