Shannon McIntosh won’t give up hope on making it to IndyCar

Nintai. The Japanese term embodying perseverance holds elevated significance for Shannon McIntosh.

After all, when the 21-year-old driver from small-town Ohio found herself unable to fund a burgeoning racing career, she took up three jobs while attending college in North Carolina, yet had little time to race. Upon returning to her home state, McIntosh took up a job as a nanny and would simultaneously babysit and work the phones to get sponsorships. Now she competes on the IndyCar's Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 National Championship Series after making the switch from oval racing to road.

And all it took was a little nintai.

"There were times when I was discouraged. There were times when I wondered if this was what I was supposed to do," said McIntosh, one of five finalists for Seventeen Magazine's "Pretty Amazing" real girl cover contest. "But I had this determination to make it happen, to keep picking myself back up."

For the contest, McIntosh had to send in a preliminary essay and then record a 20-minute video. A couple of weeks ago, she got the call to record another two-minute clip for the top 10. Now that she's one of the five finalists, McIntosh will head to New York for a photo shoot and the chance to be on the magazine's October issue cover. Readers can vote for the winner throughout the summer.

Given that McIntosh, who has been racing since age 5, is the only female driver in the USF2000 National Championship Series, gracing a magazine cover would provide the an outlet to tell her decidedly amazing story.

"At the end of the day, I love racing and that's why I am where I am right now, but I want to get to the point where I can help people and give them initiative to do something for themselves too and go after their dreams," McIntosh said. "If I made a successful career in racing and all I did was jump in a car and race and go on with my life, it wouldn't be as rewarding."

If nothing else, perhaps IndyCar will see a spike in ticket sales from the preteen female demographic.

"It would be huge for IndyCar series," said McIntosh about potentially being on the cover, which will be revealed in early September. "They're really trying to reach out to the mainstream, and I think it would show that there's somebody in the series who readers of Seventeen can relate to and be inspired by and stuff. It would definitely reach a whole new demographic, for sure. I don't think many 17-year-old girls are sitting at home watching IndyCar racing right now."

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