DOVER, N.J.-They're young, enthusiastic and no longer content to sit by and watch boyfriends, husbands and other male companions have all the fun at the drag strip or collect the ooh's and ahh's at weekend car shows.
Say hello to the newest phenomenon on the ``tuner-car'' scene-the growing number of female enthusiasts who, like their male counterparts, are making a personal statement with their automobiles. And they're willing to spend good money in order to do so.
This also is the domain of ``Girlie Girl Racing,'' a national organization made up solely of female auto enthusiasts, including several hundred ``Quick Chick'' members who race or show mostly sport-compacts and other affordable vehicles for which parts readily can be obtained.
Most of these women are between 18 and 24-many are hands-on enthusiasts who enjoy working on their own cars, said Diana Cantarelli, who founded Girlie Girl, the combination marketing firm and car club, in 1997.
She said its basic role is to encourage and help women take an active role in racing and other competitive car-oriented events. Each day, Ms. Cantarelli and her Dover-based staff answer telephone calls from women asking technical and other questions or seeking help in finding a sponsor or locating hard-to-find parts or a competent tuner shop.
Many such calls come from enthusiasts in the market for custom wheels and tires. ``That's probably the first thing they buy,'' Ms. Cantarelli said. ``We get more calls asking `Where can I get an 18-inch wheel?' than anything else.''
Custom wheels and low-profile tires ``can make a huge difference'' in a car's appearance and handling, noted Ms. Cantarelli, who changed into an active participant after being a passive observer of her family's racing activities a decade or so ago. ``Tires and wheels were the first things I bought for my cars over the years.''
Besides taking a sponsorship role in various women's racing and car show events, Girlie Girl Racing also offers womens clothing, luggage and other accessories-all bearing the company's distinctive pink, black and white logo. Its Web site, www.girliegirlracing.com, boasts ``the fastest gear for chicks on the move.... don't get caught without your girlie girl's on!'' Members are encouraged to post on the site photos of themselves with their cars. Not unlike male car buffs, the group's female enthusiasts are as much concerned about the appearance of their cars as with their own personal images, Ms. Cantarelli said.
``The girls are very particular (about how their cars are pictured). They want everything so perfect,'' she said. ``We have nearly 700 members, but fewer than than 100 photos have been posted on the Web to date.''