Kennewick’s ‘Supergirl’ knows how to make a race car fly
Kennewick’s Brittney Zamora had set her sights a few years back on getting a ride in the K&N Pro Series West circuit.
“I dreamt of it,” said the 19-year-old.
Last week that dream came true, as Zamora was signed by Bill McAnally Racing of Roseville, Calif., for the 2019 season.
Zamora will drive BMR’s No. 99 ENEOS/NAPA Filters Toyota Camry for the full K&N Pro Series West season, plus some selected K&N Pro Series East races.
ENEOS is a company that provides lubricants for race cars.
“We are lucky to have the opportunity to add a quality driver of Brittney’s prestige to our team for 2019,” said BMR President Bill McAnally in the team’s news release. “We are already looking forward to the competition meetings because this may be as talented of a group as we have ever had on this team.”
Indeed. Zamora will complete a pretty competitive BMR team.
She’ll have two other teammates: Hailie Deegan and Derek Kraus. Those two have been the K&N Pro Series West rookies of the year (Deegan in 2018, and Kraus in 2017). In addition, Deegan became the first woman to win a K&N race when she did it last year.
Zamora will compete in up to 18 races for BMR Racing in 2019. That will include her first road course race in Sonoma, and a dirt race in Las Vegas.
The team’s first event this season will be in New Smyrna, Fla., on Feb. 10.
Zamora said the deal, while signed by all parties this past week, “has been a couple of months in the works. I spent Wednesday and Thursday at the team shop, getting fitted for the driver’s seat, working with sponsors.”
The timing couldn’t have been better for the Zamora family.
Brittney spent years around racing, from the time her father, Mike Zamora, raced cars out at the old Tri-City Raceway in West Richland, to when she began racing go-karts out at Horn Rapids Off Road Vehicle Park.
But running as a family operation takes money.
“Obviously, it’s an expensive sport,” said Mike Zamora. “You can only do so much (on the local level).”
But the Zamoras did a lot the last few years.
Rookie of the Year
With her dad, grandpa Sam Morris and uncle Larry Hewitt as her pit crew, Brittney was named the 2018 Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for Washington.
She also won her second consecutive Northwest Super Late Model Series title in 2018.
But Brittney told the Herald last September that if something big didn’t happen, she and her family were prepared to scale things back in 2019. Not race as much. Not travel so often.
Dreams become reality
Then the deal with BMR Racing was finalized.
Mike Zamora is beaming, seeing his daughter realizing some dreams he may have once had for himself.
“Obviously it’s something you dream about, but the chances of it becoming a reality are slim,” said Mike Zamora. “I am so proud of her.”
He said he saw something in her as a child, racing those go-karts.
“I knew she had the talent back when she was driving go karts,” he said. “You could see how she could handle the kart, how smooth she was. She hates to get beat. She’s so competitive.”
Sometimes too competitive.
Mike would periodically have to take her aside and talk to her about her competitiveness, about how she needed to have fun.
Now, though, it’s different. It’s professional.
‘Looking for wins’
“Now the stakes are higher,” said Mike Zamora.
“Now that I’m running full-time, it’s a different environment, and different competition that I’m not familiar with yet,” she said. “There are going to be higher expectations, and I’m ready for that.”
It hasn’t changed how high she sets the bar for herself.
“I’m looking for Rookie of the Year,” she said. “I’m hoping for top three in the standings. Obviously a championship is a goal. Obviously, I’ll be looking for wins.”
It won’t be easy. The K&N Pro Series West tour is filled with talented drivers and crews.
Mike Zamora said the series is akin to the old Winston West Series of the 1990s that came through the Tri-Cities.
For comparison, liken it to Double-A professional baseball.
Or, as Mike Zamora, puts it, “It’s like playing Division I college football. And very rarely does anyone in the Mid-Columbia get a chance to race cars at that level.”
Switching pit crews
The tough part is that Brittney’s family pit crew will have to step aside and let the new BMR Racing pit crew take care of things.
“It’s hard to deal with,” said Mike. “I’ve always been so handson. Now I have to step back.”
But they won’t be too far away.
“We’ve talked about it a lot,” she said. “They’ll hang out in the pits.”
And the family’s race car won’t just be sitting on blocks this summer.
“We’ll be running her Super Late Model car at selected races, like Wenatchee and Evergreen,” said Mike.
That’s when Brittney isn’t racing for BMR Racing. While she loves racing with her family, she expects to do less and less of that – especially with her goals.
“For now, it’s a one-year deal (with BMR Racing),” said Brittney. “But I’m looking to expand it.”
That’ll happen with Top-3 finishes, with Rookie of the Year awards, with championships. With wins.
Don’t bet against Brittney Zamora.
Jeff Morrow is former sports editor for the Tri-City Herald.