Michelle is one-half of the secretary duo at Stewart-Haas Racing. A native of Macon, Georgia, Michelle was raised around racing as a fan of local hero Bill Elliott. In fact, she was once sent home from school for wearing a vintage #9 Coors t-shirt and refusing to change.
Taking a keen interest in racing from an early age, Michelle raced go-karts locally, winning the 8-12 age group championship in 1995. She hoped to graduate into late model stock cars after turning 18, but when a deal with a potential sponsor went bad, she was wrongly blacklisted in the local scene. Effectively, her dream of being the Shirley Muldowney of stock cars came to an end.
Michelle moved on to other things, including acting and her number two love, music. A talented vocalist and pianist, her show-stopping rendition of "Theme from Shaft" in a July 2002 talent show in Macon is still talked about today.
Finding that music intrigued her, but not as much as she had been intrigued by her brief stint in racing, Michelle spent the next couple of years trying in various ways - and always in vain - to get back behind the wheel. A situation that began with a pair of Groucho glasses and ended with five people, Michelle included, being hauled out of an Alabama dirt track in handcuffs finally put her driving dreams to rest.
Still hoping to land a role within the sport she'd loved dearly since she was a child, Michelle began appearing at races occasionally as a backup singer for performing acts, as well as in a vendor capacity. A chance happening at Texas in 2008, when officials from event sponsor Dickies needed a attractive female to model their product, proved life-changing.
Though the assignment proved to be far from what they had hoped for, as standing in cool air in mud-soaked coveralls was not the most fun she had had in her life, Michelle hit it off with her cohort for the evening. She and Jessica ended up attending the season-finale as friends. Shortly therafter, Michelle applied for an internship at Stewart-Haas Racing. She was promptly hired on as a secretary, and her recommendation of her new best friend created the dream opportunity for both.
Now in her second season as an SHR secretary, Michelle shares a Charlotte apartment with Jessica. She continues to sing off and on, especially during the off-season, and is also in the midst of a fledgling career as a screenwriter. If all goes according to plan, the SHR Secretaries will appear in Michelle's first screenplay later this season, scheduling shoots around their full-time job.
Michelle at a Glance:
Full Name: Michelle Pennington
Hometown: Macon, NC
Residence: Charlotte, NC
First job in NASCAR: Cashier, Bourdreaux's Butt Paste display stand.
Other notable positions prior to joining SHR: Dickies 500 model, backup singer for various at-track acts
Best moment with Stewart-Haas Racing: First day on the job in the imfamous lingerie uniform; Tony's first win; the Burger King photo shoot (she and Jessica are of the same mind on things)
Worst moment with Stewart-Haas Racing: The "big freeze" earlier this year (see gallery) and the day she got her gown caught in a machine on the shop floor.
Favorite non-Stewart-Haas driver: Bill Elliott
Least-favorite non-Stewart-Haas driver: Jimmie Johnson
Favorite track: Atlanta Motor Speedway
Least favorite track: Texas because of her mud-dancing memories..