Meet Race-Car Driver and College Student Emily Packard | What's Good | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Meet Race-Car Driver and College Student Emily Packard



Age: 20
Occupation: race-car driver and college student
Town: Northumberland, N.H.

Emily Packard has been gunning her engines since she was 9 years old. That was the first time she got behind the wheel of a race car — admittedly, a go-kart — and she's rarely slowed down since. The 20-year-old Community College of Vermont business major is a third-generation Vermonter. She's also the youngest race-car driver to compete in the American Canadian Tour — and its only female. When she's not on the track, Packard works in her family's business, Packard Fuels in East Montpelier; she commutes there daily from her Granite State home just over the border.

But 2017 has been a slow race season for Packard. Why? She's been busy planning her September 2018 wedding to her fiancé — fellow driver and longtime competitor Shawn Swallow. Has Packard ever beaten him on the track? "Yeah," she says with a smile. "Every time."

That explains why the couple won't merge their pit crews after tying the knot. As Packard puts it, "We're way too competitive for that."

Where you can find me on a Friday night: Because I have a really close family, we do a lot of family things together. One of our favorite places to go is the indoor go-kart track at Essex Speedway & Action Center. The facility can control our speed, you know. Sometimes I think that when they see all our racing shirts, they turn it down on us. But usually, we're bumping and banging and get spoken to more than once.

Favorite roads to drive in Vermont: One of my favorites is Route 14, the road from East Montpelier to Hardwick. I just find it a really peaceful ride, and I do my best thinking on that road. My other favorite would be Route 2 from East Montpelier to Lancaster, N.H. I travel it every day. I think it's really, really pretty, especially right before you get into New Hampshire where you can see the White Mountains.

Preferred pit stop for a bite to eat: The Steak House Restaurant in Barre.

What every Vermonter should experience: Every Vermonter should go to Thunder Road SpeedBowl in Barre at least once. And if you have the opportunity to go in the pit, you should, because it's such a nice atmosphere. It's a little more close up with all the drivers and the pit crews. Anybody can go back there. There's also Devil's Bowl Speedway in West Haven. Short-track racing is awesome!

Two things you need to survive in Vermont: Have a good heating source. You and your house won't survive our winters without good heat. I prefer oil — and I'm kind of paid to say that! Also, make sure you get enough vitamin D, because by the end of the winter, there's not a lot of sun and everybody's pretty grumpy around here. You can definitely tell they're not getting the vitamin D.