Professional race car driver Aurora Straus put the brakes on her admission to Harvard to pursue her racing career full-time and said she hopes to inspire a new generation of girls.
The 19-year-old from Cold Spring, New York, told "Good Morning America" that while motorsports have been predominately male, she has already seen a big shift and hopes to "keep pushing forward."
"The face of the sport has changed a lot in recent years and a lot of that is due to huge role models like Danica Patrick," Straus said. "For every one racer or crew member out there that treats me differently because I'm a girl, I've met 50 that genuinely care about me, want me to succeed and think of me as a racer before a girl."
Straus said she was 13 when she got behind the wheel for the first time. She was driving a Mazda Miata with an instructor.
"I almost ran into his rental car," she recalled. "But then I went out on track for the first time and going over 100 miles an hour is like the most remarkable feeling and once you do it, you fall down a rabbit hole and you're doing that for the rest of your life."
The young pro will race this weekend in the Pirelli World Challenge in Austin, Texas. One of her heroes had a message for her before she hit the track.
"Hey Aurora, I'm Danica Patrick and I just wanted to wish you the best of luck. Don't forget to dream really, really, really big," Patrick said in a video message that was played on "Good Morning America."
A stunned and excited Straus said, "That's crazy," and explained that Patrick was a "huge maverick" in changing the face of motorsports.
"Danica, like other role models out there, they were the reason I got involved in the sport and the reason I was strong enough to keep pushing forward and my goal is 10 or 20 years from now, I want to be that Danica to a young girl who doesn't know if she can make it in the industry," Straus said.
Straus graduated from Westchester High School last year and deferred her acceptance to Harvard, but said she eventually plans to study English and mechanical engineering at the Ivy League university.
For now, she is taking the driver's seat and going full speed toward her dreams.