Super woman: Sara Price making impact on Super Trucks Series
Young race drivers know no fear. Sara Price takes that to another level. The 17-time motocross national champion is oblivious to breakneck speeds, gravity-defying jumps and, if anyone was wondering, the credentials of her competitors.
That became abundantly clear earlier this summer during the IndyCar weekend in Toronto when Price made a jaw-dropping impression as the first woman to compete in the Speed Energy Stadium Super Trucks Series.
Most who drive the high-flying Super Trucks for the first time are content to keep the off-road beasts from taking a bad roll. Price, in the second race of a weekend doubleheader, bolted to first on the opening lap, taking the lead when former Champ Car and IndyCar star Paul Tracy overshot a corner and plowed his truck into a tire barrier.
If Price knew who Tracy was, she apparently didn't care.
"What I would say is, Paul Tracy knows who Sara Price is," said Bill Hynes, the team owner/driver who has given Price a full-time ride in the series.
Price, who turned 24 this month, races again this weekend in the Sand Sports Super Show in Costa Mesa, California. She wound up eighth and ninth (out of 12) in her debut in Toronto and, and in her first start with UFD Racing last month on The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway, finished a solid fifth and sixth. Each Super Trucks weekend features two races.
Price, a one-time beauty pageant contestant, said she's exactly where she wants to be.
"This is the coolest thing right now in off-road or anything of its sort," she said. "They're trucks that are jumping the biggest things you can ever imagine. Getting here was in the back of my mind for a while, and sometimes I was like, 'Man, how am I going to make it happen?' And then [sponsor] BitTorrent stepped up to get me my first race, and after my first race, Team United Fiber and Data signed me for the rest of the year and all of 2017."
The daughter of an off-road racer and brother of a motocross racer, Price began racing at age 8. She started collecting motocross championships before long and became the first female factory driver for Kawasaki and an X Games medalist.
When she turned to four wheels, she became a force racing UTVs (Utility Terrain Vehicles) and other off-road machines. In fact, it was at a UTV race in Costa Mesa two years ago that she caught the eye of Robby Gordon, the former longtime IndyCar and NASCAR driver and off-road champion who owns the Super Truck Series.
"She actually led that race and was going to win it until she had an axle break or something like that," Gordon recalled. "You know, I've been watching Sara for a while from motorcycles to the UTV side of things. I think she's one of the better female drivers we've seen in a long time."
Gordon called Price after that Costa Mesa UTV race and told her he wanted her in the Super Truck series. A sponsorship deal fell through, though.
"He had a falling out with the company that was going to fund it, so it didn't happen right then and there," Price said. "But it sparked a thing in my brain where it was like, 'Oh man, I really want to do this.'"
Price found her own sponsor for the Toronto race and made her own break. She was so impressive that weekend that Paul Morris, an Australian V8 Supercar Series veteran who drives for Hynes in the Super Truck series, flew her to Australia the next week to put her through some testing.
Soon after, Morris called Hynes from Down Under and said UFD Racing needed to sign her.
"We were about to do a deal with [accomplished veteran] P.J. Jones, and we had a decision to make," Hynes said. "There were a couple of other drivers in the mix, but she, fair and square, beat them out. She's the driver we wanted in the truck. She's not the female driver, just the driver."
Price immediately justified the showing with her poised run at Charlotte, on a course with a massive "over-under jump" featuring one lane of traffic flying over another. As Hynes tells it, two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton tried the jump one time, got out of his Super Truck and said you couldn't pay him to try it again.
Hynes is quick to debunk any notion that signing Price was about publicity.
"You might see pink on her truck, but she's going to put a bumper on you," he said. "She's going to race you like every other racer in the series. You mess with her, she has all the tools to pay you back.
"She's going to be a great teammate for me and Paul. The three of us are going to work well together, and we're going to get all of us on the podium. It'll be fun for sure."