When Missy Parsons unexpectedly passed away on November 15, she left behind 15-year-old daughter Ella Parsons. Ella wishes to become a NASCAR crew chief and the racing community has rallied to support her dream.
“Missy was sick, and she was scheduled for gallbladder surgery,” Missy’s husband, Mike Twist, of Mechanic Falls, Maine, said. “We were excited for her to be better. The night before she died, she talked about attending ARCA races across the country with me and Ella, because Ella had an opportunity to crew for Andy Seuss.”
Mike has actively participated in racing his entire life. Most recently, he served as announcer for the North East Mini Stock Tour (NEMST). Ella accompanied Mike as he traveled to tracks, but she chose to become a crew member for teams.
“Missy and I were in the process of adopting Ella,” said Mike. “We had been together for 13 years, and I was Ella’s father figure since she was two years old.”
Mike recently bought a house together with Missy, right near Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine. It was there where Ella Parsons met Bob Guptill, promoter of NEMST. Guptill gave her a job preparing race cars he offered as rentals at the track. Ryan Stuart noticed Ella’s skills and gave her a job on his slingshot (a type of street stock) he races at Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire.
“Ella loves to prep tires,” Mike said. “We met [ARCA team co-owner] Andy Seuss at the races, and she began as an apprentice crew member for him. The Seuss family members are close friends, and Andy was mentoring Ella when Missy passed.”
Ella joined the KLAS Motorsports ARCA team Seuss co-owns with Kevin Lapierre, which fields cars for driver Andy Jankowiak. Mike went along with Ella to three tracks — Michigan International Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and Pocono Raceway.
“She was so excited after the Michigan race that she was talking about moving to North Carolina after high school,” said Mike. “I told her she must finish high school — we talked to her guidance counselor about making her ARCA trips part of her education. We always add days to the weekends to learn about the area we are visiting — the history, the important industries. We went to Ford and met Jack Roush when we were in Michigan.”
After her mother’s death, Ella did not want to return home, opting to stay with an aunt until last weekend.
“We went to the Turkey Day Classic at Star Speedway to help Ethan Guptill [Bob’s son],” Mike said. “Ella is happy whether she is working on a slingshot or an ARCA car. She helped Dave Cameron, a friend of the Guptills’. She set the stagger and the tire pressure. Dave drove the wheels off the car and won. He handed the trophy to Ella in victory lane.”
Ella strapped the trophy into the back seat of her late mother’s car, and Ella and Mike drove back to Maine. When she returned home, Ella put the trophy by her bed.
“I didn’t think she was ready to return home,” said Mike. “I thought it would be weeks or months for her to adjust to what happened.”
Hearing about her dream, Reverend Patricia Bessey, mother of former NASCAR Xfinity Series driver/owner Joe Bessey, set up a *spotfund to help raise money for Ella Parsons go to more ARCA races and follow her dream. You can support it by clicking here.
“Ella has no desire to drive,” Mike said. “She was offered a chance to drive Bob [Guptill’s] mini stock, but opted to work on the car instead. I have explained to her that being a female in the sport will have its challenges — some will doubt her, some will help her.”
If the support Ella has received so far is any indication, it seems like there’s far more in the racing community willing to help her than doubt her.
The Outside Groove Director of Photography has written hundreds of stories since the website’s inception. This year marks his 54th year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.