The name Sarah Fisher, Indy 500 race car driver, was one I’d only seen in magazines, television and the newspaper; I’m a Seattle transplant and, in my limited experience, all I knew was that the 500 was a race held in Indianapolis and it involved fast cars.

That changed when I married a Hoosier.

My father-in-law is a lover of all sports and it’s family tradition to gather at my in-laws Memorial Day weekend and listen to the race via the radio. And that’s where I learned Ohioborn Sarah Fisher has made a name for herself in the world of car racing.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Sarah on location of her racing team, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, to talk food, racing and family–and for Sarah Fisher, they’re all connected.

Smith Bites: Tell me about your “Crock-Pot Wednesdays”–how did that tradition happen?

Sarah Fisher: We (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing) began in 2008 with three employees (not including my husband and me); one of our employees, Mark Albert, suggested we take turns bringing “a” Crock-Pot on Wednesdays, because “a” Crock-Pot would feed five individuals. That’s changed now with more than 23 employees but we still do it. It’s nice to have everyone come to the kitchen, sit around the table and share like family.

SB: Crock-Pot Wednesdays have evolved over the years because of size, but has it become more competitive? Because drivers seem like pretty competitive!

SF: It’s competitive, yes, and it’s a lot of fun–but what differentiates us as a business is that we have this family culture. On Crock-Pot Wednesday everyone comes together and looks forward to what’s going to be on the table; it bonds us as a team.

SB: How has your life changed now that you have children? (Sarah currently has a young daughter and is expecting her first son in June.)

SF: Life before kids was very different–I was an athlete as a driver and an entrepreneur with my husband–life was 100% focused on this sport and involved some facet of racing. As a mom, I’m still focused on racing but we make time for our family to do activities outside of racing too.

SB: Do you eat differently at home, and who does the cooking?

SF: (laughing) I’m seven months pregnant, I eat whatever I want right now! We both cook and Andy grills in the summer when he has time. Many days we start a Crock-Pot in the morning so it’s ready when we get home. We eat out too much because we’re often on the road but we try to make healthier choices. And we’re very lucky that our daughter prefers to eat salads and proteins–she does a great job on her own because that’s what her palate likes.

SB: Are you a snacker? Salty or sweet?

SF: When I was pregnant with my daughter, I craved salty things but the little boy we’re having in June is going to love sugar!

SB: Do you grow a garden?

SF: I’d love to have a vegetable garden and teach my kids where their food comes from. And I’ve grown cucumbers before; they’re easy to grow so maybe I’ll just have a garden of cucumbers!

SB: Will you encourage your kids to race?

SF: This sport is such a roller coaster. If my kids are racing simply because we’re involved, then no. I was extremely lucky that both of my parents supported my passion–which was racing–and I want the same for both of my kids. I’d rather be a piano or ballerina mom if that’s something they really wanted to do.

RacersDebra & Rod Smith Racing CarDebra & Rod Smith

SB: At 33, are you where you expected to be? Was owning your own team a vision or dream you had for yourself?

SF: I think I’m a little past where I thought I’d be. I’m so fortunate to have my family, to be a mom, to be a part of a race team that is doing incredibly well and to be involved in a sport that I can’t live without. Because of my partner, Wink Hartman, and his wife, Libba, I’m allowed the luxury of traveling with my family so I don’t miss my kids’ growing up–I couldn’t do it without that kind of support.

SB: How do you and your husband stay connected outside of racing?

SF: We make date nights for each other. It seems silly, but we get a sitter, go to dinner and put our phones away. We take family vacations and we have a small lake house that we love.

SB: What’s your one guilty pleasure when it comes to food?

SF: Mexican. Chips and salsa, chips and queso–I LOVE Mexican food in general.

SB: Who wins the award for Crock-Pot Wednesdays?

SF: It’s going to be Johnny O (Johnny O’Gara, Sarah’s father-in-law) by far– everyone loves his Taco Bar.

SB: What’s your signature dish?

SF: Chicken and noodles. When we were a smaller company, I made the noodles by hand but I can’t do that now so I buy them–but I can’t tell you what brand, that’s my secret ingredient!

SB: What’s your husband’s (Andy O’Gara) signature dish?

SF: I make his Crock-Pot Wednesday!

Racing Behind the Scenes Debra & Rod Smith Cooking Debra & Rod Smith

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