Julie Jorgenson’s newfound confidence is leading her to the top of the standings at Elko Speedway
By Cara Cooper
4 Minute Read
Julie Jorgenson has been going to races at Elko Speedway seemingly every Saturday during every summer of her life.
Her dad has been racing at the NASCAR Home Track in Minnesota for 50 years alongside several of her cousins and uncle, so it was only natural she wanted to take a bigger part in the sport that has meant so much to so many in her family.
“It’s a big family thing that we do,” Jorgenson said. “I saw my dad racing, and I told him I wanted a car, so we built one.”
Jorgenson’s dad has multiple championships at Elko, and she’s hopeful she can add another Jorgenson title this summer. She currently leads the points standings in Elko’s Power Stocks division. With three wins and 10 top-three finishes, she has a 17-point lead over second place.
In her rookie season in the track’s Thunder Cars division, she’s currently seventh with two wins and six top-three finishes.
In addition to chasing a title at Elko, Jorgenson is racing for a championship in Busch’s Women in Motorsports North America championship, where she is leading the points over fellow Elko Speedway driver Taylor Goldman.
“That’s been super fun,” she said of the Women of Motorsports points race. “When we first were contacted about it and we were looking at how the points work and everything, I was curious to see where I would end up. I didn’t think I would be up at the top.
“That’s been really fun seeing all of us girls and seeing the points and seeing everything kind of blow up a little more and being more recognized. That’s been super cool to be a part of that.”
If Jorgenson holds on to win the Elko title, she’ll be just the second female driver to win an Elko track championship. Goldman, who is a good friend of Jorgenson’s, was the first to win an Elko title in 2018.
To make history as a track champion while also adding to her family’s legacy “would mean so much to me,” Jorgenson said.
“I grew up watching these drivers that I’m racing with, and the fact that if I were to win a championship, that just means that I am where I’m supposed to be,” she added. “It’s in my blood with my family and going there all the time. It would be something off of my bucket list that I’ve been adding to each year.
“Now that I’ve started driving, I want to get a championship. I want to be able to grow so much that I can lock that down. It would just be so cool to add that. I’ll have my one time champion with my dad’s 10 time champion, so I’m working on getting up to him.”
Jorgenson started racing in quarter midgets when she was 12. At 15, she started racing full-sized cars at Elko, where she’s been competing now for nine seasons.
She races against her dad, Conrad, in Elko’s Thunder Cars division, and against her brother, Jimmie, in the track’s Power Stocks division.
“He has improved quite a bit, so it’s been really fun competing against him,” Jorgenson said of her brother. “It’s kind of a friendly sibling competition to see who does better.”
Jorgenson learned just about everything she knows about racing from her dad. He’s helped her gain confidence as a driver, and taught her lessons on how to look ahead and anticipate her next move.
There’s one lesson he passed on that has meant the most.
“To have fun, honestly,” she said. “That is the one thing I’ve learned from racing is that you go out there to have fun. That’s what it’s all about.”
Jorgenson has finished second in her division at Elko twice in her career. This is the closest she’s come to winning a title, and she said her increased success this year is largely due to her increased confidence as a driver.
“I used to just wait for my dad to tell me what he saw was wrong watching the car, and now, each year, more and more I can help pinpoint what we need to do,” she said. “Every year it’s just a little bit more that has felt different. … It’s just more confidence in my driving ability.
“Being 24 in a male-dominated sport, it’s all about confidence, because when I first started, I kind of just got out of the way. I started learning more and more, now I make sure that if I want the spot and I have the room to take it, I’m going to take it. Nobody can push me out of it or push me around or anything. So confidence is a big key, and the more you race and the more you believe in yourself the more confidence you get and the better you do, because you’re confident in yourself versus not feeling like you are able to push yourself that way.”
With three races remaining at Elko, winning her first title is all Jorgenson is focused on at this point. But she’s taking the lesson from her dad and said she plans to keep having fun as she pushes for a title, because, she said, “The more you get into your head about points and this and that, the harder it is to stay focused.”
Racing will return to Elko Speedway on Saturday. The track will host its championship night on Sept. 30.