Michelle Trachtenberg by Bob D'Amico/ABC Family Michelle Trachtenberg by Bob D'Amico/ABC Family

Sure, hitting triple digits on the speedometer can get the blood pumping, but what thrills Michelle Trachtenberg as an actress is tackling new and fun roles. Hence, her starring gig in ABC Family's The Circuit (premiering Sunday, June 8, at 8 pm/ET).

As up-and-coming stock car racer Kylie Shines, Trachtenberg channels what you have to imagine was a young(er) Danica Patrick, all the while contending with pesky father issues (her dad, aka The 4400's Billy Campbell, is a racing legend whose career is on the downturn) and dating woes (her arch rival, "The Kid," is a dreamboat played by Charmed's Drew Fuller).

Discussing this trip behind the wheel (and around many, many race tracks), Trachtenberg tells TVGuide.com, "I always look for different takes on empowered woman, whether it's incredibly righteous, over-the-top empowerment like [ Gossip Girl hellion] Georgina, or empowerment shown through determination. I never take on a role that I don't think I can bring something to. I thought I could really own this one."

In doing so, though, Trachtenberg had to push the limit - the speed limit - and driver herself fast then ever before. "On our first couple days out, they put us behind the wheel with a professional diver next to us and said, 'All right, you have an empty track. Go as fast as you want,'" she relates. "I only went up to 100, but I was like, 'Oh my god! Uh, I think I'm happy now.'"

Mind you, this is coming from a gal who admits that because she avoids freeways, her personal best to date was probably a mere 65 mph. "You can't really barrel down residential streets," she says with a laugh. "I have to tell you, your whole face shakes at 100 [mph]. . It's exhilarating, yeah, but it's also scar and very 'life on the line.'" - Matt Mitovich

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