By Dick Jordan

Jessica Bean of Farmland, Ind. is this year’s recipient of USAC’s prestigious Kara Hendrick Spirit Award. The award was presented today at Lyn St. James’ “Women in the Winners Circle” gala, held at Don Schumacher Racing in Brownsburg, Ind. The presentation to Bean was made by Tricia Hecker, the Director of Mopar Service and Parts Marketing for Chrysler.

The 21-year-old Bean currently ranks sixth in USAC’s Midwest Ford Focus racing series. Her versatility has placed her sixth in the Midwest pavement and seventh in the Midwest dirt-track standings. Ten of her 14 starts have resulted in “top-10” finishes.

In addition to her racing resume, when not racing Bean has also participated in USAC’s official internship program, assisting with track-related functions including pit stewardship, scoring, set-up and tear-down of equipment and other related items.

Her racing career began in 2002 in quarter midgets and resulted in a half-dozen track championships, 60-plus feature victories and some track records. In 2009 she made her debut in the USAC Ford Focus Midget wars and the following year earned the fourth-place ranking in the Midwest Ford Focus Dirt standings. She was also fifth in the overall Midwest points, posting 11 “top-10” finishes. She also scored a pair of Sportsman feature wins under UMARA sanction and completed the year with her induction into the Quarter Midget Racing Hall of Fame.

This year, in addition to campaigning a Ford Focus for her father Tom Bean and car owner Jim Stigall, she also competed with the USSA Kenyon Midget Series and earned her first Kenyon Midget feature win at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway June 3.

Jessica’s award honors the memory of one of USAC’s most accomplished female drivers, Kara Hendrick, who posted a pair of USAC TQ Midget feature wins before tragically losing her life during a USAC Western Midget event at El Cajon, Calif. in 1991. In 1994 a scholarship was established in Kara’s memory and is awarded to a female driver in the Lyn St. James Driver Development Program.

Previous winners of the Kara Hendrick Award, established in 2003, are current USAC Mopar D1 Midget point leader Taylor Ferns, Lynsey Tilton, Alison MacLeod, Stephanie Mockler, Melanie Troxel, Sondi Eden, Erin Crocker and Sarah McCune.