When Allison Carroll was a student at Boyle County High School, she never envisioned herself one day being around some of the nation’s best auto racing drivers.
Yet last weekend at Kentucky Speedway she found herself meeting drivers like Danica Patrick, Will Power, Marco Andretti and J.R. Hildebrand along with various pit crew members and team managers.
“This was the first race I had ever been to, and it was incredible. I couldn't believe how loud and fast the little Indy cars really are. What a rush,” said Carroll.
Soon she’ll be meeting star NASCAR drivers, too, while attending events across the country, including the ones at Talladega, Daytona, Indianapolis and Bristol in addition to the 2012 event at Kentucky Speedway in June. “I can't wait to meet Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kasey Kahne,” she said.
Why is she so lucky?
Simple. She recently was crowned Miss Kentucky Motor Speedway 2012 in a statewide competition where competitors were judged in four categories: fashion wear, swimsuit, evening gown, and an onstage interview.
“After all but the first runner-up, Heather Buford, 26, of Bowling Green, and myself were eliminated, I really didn't think it would be me. I just kept thinking I was thrilled to be the first runner-up,” she said.
Carroll, 19, will compete in the national 2012 Miss Motor Speedway pageant in Las Vegas March 8-13, the same week there will be a NASCAR competition in Las Vegas. She also earned a college scholarship as well as various other prizes.
She helped raise money for Speedway Children's Charity, the official charity of NASCAR, during races at Kentucky Speedway last weekend along with Miss Teen Kentucky Motor Speedway 2012, Miss and Teen Ohio Motor Speedway 2012, Miss Indiana Motor Speedway 2012, and Miss Illinois Motor Speedway 2012. She said 100 percent of the proceeds went to help children in need in Kentucky by providing warm clothes for the winter season, school supplies, food, and help with medical bills.
“During my reign as Miss Kentucky Motor Speedway 2012 I will be making several appearances throughout the state and country,” Carroll said. “This month I will also host my own Princess for a Day event. I am hoping I will be able to make the girls at Shriners Children's Hospital in Lexington feel like a princess. It will be a lot of hard work to get that set up, organized, and raise the funds from businesses and individuals to make it happen, but I am determined to make a mark on these girl's lives that can't be erased.
“The event will take $500 in donations to be accomplished, but as I learned this past weekend at the track, the look on the girl's faces after they've been made over by a state titleholder is priceless. They feel beautiful, loved and important afterwards.”
Carroll will also have to find time to compete for Miss Kentucky County Fair 2012 in January in Louisville after winning the Miss LaRue County Fair 2012 competition in July.
Of course, she’s used to staying busy.
The 2010 Boyle graduate was on the school dance team for five years and was a member of Future Business Leaders of America and DECA for three years each.
“My junior year of high school I was secretary for DECA and organized the first prom fashion show at BCHS alongside the club president, Chloe Wilcher. My senior year I was president and once again organized the prom fashion show, which is now an annual event,” Carroll said. “The money raised by people coming to watch the show goes towards club members to compete at the regional and state level for the club. I attended both competitions my junior and senior years competiting in the marketing category of competition.
“I also danced for Champions Elite All-Stars in Lawrenceburg for six years and each year our team won a national title. I know its dancing that has made me a confident person on stage. I've been on stages in front of many people since I was 3. Being on a stage just comes natural to me now.”
Her stage presence is also in her bloodline since her great-grandmother, Imelda Cooper, founded Cooper School of Dance in Danville in 1945. Her great-aunt, Ruby Ann Gaskin, and grandmother, Shirley Cooper, now run the business.
“I started taking tap and ballet lessons from there at the age of two, then at the age of 10 added jazz dancing to the mix. I danced for this school until I was 18 years old and left for college. I started assistant teaching there for girls ages 2-10 when I was 16, and still continue to do it,” Cooper said.
She’s now a sophomore at Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington and is enrolled in the BluePlus program, which is a joint program between BCTC and Kentucky. She plans to transfer to UK pursue a degree in Kinesiology and Health Promotion Teacher Certification with plans to be a health and physical education teacher.
“I will be certified to teach kindergarden through 12th grade, but I would really enjoy teaching high school students. Who knows, I might end up back at Boyle County High School? Once a Rebel, always a Rebel,” she said.