Brittney Zamora flying under the radar

Brittney Zamora is one of the next up and coming racers who is currently racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series this season. Zamora made her debut during the K&N Pro Series East race at New Symrna for Bill McAnally Racing, where Zamora started 15th and finished 15th.

However, for Zamora, it wasn’t her first rodeo as she has been racing for quite some time. In fact, her father, Mike Zamora, was a racer himself thus seeing Brittney become the second generation racer in the family. Zamora got her start racing in go-karts at the young age of four.

In this interview with Speedway Media, Zamora details how her life has always been around racing, what it’s like being a female racer and stand out against the guys, if she’ll be in a Cup car years from now and why you should cheer for her.

“Yeah, my dad raced for the past 20 years before I started in the super late models,” Zamora said. “I actually went to the track when I was four days old. That was my first time at the track, I didn’t wait very long for that. It’s pretty much been my whole life. Going to the racetrack, going down on the weekends, and watching my dad win championships around the Northwest, I just knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

“I got into go-karts at the age of four, then I moved up to Mini Stocks, and then I jumped into the Super LateModels in 2016. Did that for three years and now I am here doing the (NASCAR) K&N Pro Series West.”

With Brittney being in the Northwest and the NASCAR racing capital in Charlotte, NC she describes how hard it is to stand out among other racers who are already making a name for themselves and are there in Charlotte.

“It’s tough being over on the west coast,” she said. “The racing capital is on the east coast. The majority of it applies over there. It’s a little bit harder to get noticed and get your name out there for people to recognize it. Just because you are on the other side of the country out here, you really have got to be impressive and take every opportunity you can get.”

“I do think Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne are the two most recognizable names here in Washington State actually. It can happen. Just because you’re living out here, doesn’t mean you can make it. I do think living on the east coast and racing over there has its advantages for sure.”

With many racers who grow up wanting to become a racecar driver, they can remember watching the first race on TV that catches their eye. For Brittney, however, that’s not how it was for her at such a young age.

“Yeah you know, it’s kind of weird,” Zamora said. “I really don’t have a first memory of watching it because that’s what I grew up with. It was always on TV on race weekends. My dad has his own car back out in the shop, so it was a lifestyle for us. So not really a first memory growing up, but going to my first Cup race was fun and everything, but that’s kind of what I knew.”

Growing up around racing during Brittney’s early years was something she got used too at an early age but she can somewhat remember the first time she sat in a racecar.

“I remember helping as much as I could, being a little girl helping out with my dad,” Zamora said. “I would always want to sit in his car. You know the dream was to get into the Super LateModels. So I made sure I always got to sit in his car, work on it whenever I could.”

“I actually got my first stock car and that was a really cool experience. There was a guy here in town that had the car and wanted me to drive for him. So, getting introduced in the stock car world myself and having somebody wanting me to drive for them, and giving me the car to do so; it was a really cool opportunity and it made it much more special.”

Zamora made her first NASCAR K&N Pro Series West start at the challenging Las Vegas Motor Speedway dirt track earlier this year, right outside the big track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. She started 16th and finished 11th. She describes what it was like being on dirt the first time.

“Oh my gosh, that was my first time ever on dirt, I’d never stepped a foot on it, like a dirt racetrack, never a day in my life before,” Zamora said. “I really didn’t know what I was heading into and it was pretty tricky. Never being on dirt before, I didn’t know what I was actually supposed to be looking for in a car. You know, never having experience on that.”

“So trying to talk with my crew and figure out what that feeling is, what I need to feel in the car. It was quite the learning experience and being only the second race with that team in a K&N car, it was so much new happening in that race. Our main goal was just to stay on the lead lap and finish all the laps. The top-10 was our primary goal, unfortunately, we got 11th but we were right there and met all but one of our goals. So, it was a decent first dirt race and second K&N race ever.”

When Brittney experienced her first dirt track, she never really had any dirt track guys to lean on for advice.

“Yeah, I didn’t have anyone to reach out for to that,” she continued. “I tried to get into a dirt car, whether it was a go-kart, modifieds, late models, anything that I could, I tried but the opportunity just never worked out in our favor. So, we didn’t get any experience on dirt. Yeah, I didn’t have any dirt guys to lean on for advice. My team is primarily asphalt and that’s what we do. That was a learning curve for all of us. It was really tricky for sure.”

With the NASCAR K&N Pro Series being so different from the three NASCAR touring series, Zamora explained what she enjoys about racing in the K&N Series.

“There’s so much about it, it’s a whole different world than what I’ve known my whole life,” she said. “I came from a Saturday night family life. Saturday night was our racing, just local short track stuff. My family has been my crew my entire life. I have my dad, my uncle, my grandpa, they are my crew. They are who I hear in my ear when I’m on the track.”

“Being in the K&N Series is a different series. I had to adapt to not working with my family anymore and being with a new team. And then we went from 2016 where we did like eight Super Late Model races, to 2017 where we did about 12. And then in 2018, we stepped it up to about 20 (races) to kind of help to get ready if any opportunities came our way.”

“Now that the K&N Series is here, we have about 26 races. So, the schedule is pretty cool. You’re racing a lot more, passing a lot more, going all over the country to new tracks that I’ve never been to like Bristol and Sonoma. We’re going to go to Phoenix, Iowa and Gateway. I mean there are so many tracks that I would never have the opportunity to race on in my super (late model) and I have the chance in the K&N Series.”

With all those tracks Brittney mentioned above, most of, if not all of them, will be her first time visiting them. In this case, she tries to learn as much as possible whether it’s watching video or leaning on her team.

“Video from past races,” she said, “you can learn from watching a driver’s technique, different lines, pit stop strategy, how to be strong at the end of the races as well at the beginning. Just taking notes on who is doing what, and then getting on track and actually applying what you saw and what you learned. Using the experience that my team has given me from years past at those tracks, and I lean on them a little bit to help get me adapted to those new tracks I haven’t been to yet.”

Zamora drives for one of the staple teams in the NASCAR K&N Series, Bill
McAnally Racing, who has been quite successful over the years. She described the experience and the added pressure to perform at the highest level with this team.

“I actually got invited back to a Toyota combine back in August,” she said. “I didn’t really know what I would be learning or what the outcome of it was. I went there and I actually won one of the races there at the combine. Only four drivers got to compete in the championship race and I was one of them. I finished second and so, really caught Toyota’s attention, and then they got me a couple of late model races as an evaluation. We did really good in those and that’s kind of where it led to. Alright so I’ve done super late models, I did good in all the evaluation in the combine, so let’s see how I can do in a K&N Car.”

“Toyota put me in a test with Bill McAnally Racing at Irwindale,” Zamora continued. “Everything went great. I was the best car out there so that’s where it kind of led to. Alright, so we’re gonna have something in the works for next year. So we gotta get sponsors lined up, it all fell right into place. Being with Bill McAnally Racing, he is one of the best teams in the K&N Pro Series right now, if not arguably the best.”

“You know being a full time driver there, you definitely have a little chip on your shoulder. Everybody’s expecting a little more out of you, it’s tough coming in to the series. My teammates already having experience in the series at all the tracks that I haven’t been too, being brand new to all of this. You definitely want to hold up to everyone’s expectations and I think I put a little more pressure on myself than I need too, right now they just want to see improvement but a championship driver, championship team all my life, that’s what I strive for the series. Getting top-10’s, I’ve been content with them but that’s not what I’m aiming for. We want top fives, we want to lead laps and get those wins, so that’s what we are aiming for this year.”

As a female racer, Zamora is adding her name to the list of other women drivers like Janet Guthrie, Shawna Robinson, Danica Patrick, Johanna Long, Natalie Decker and Halie Deegan. She explains how tough it is to stand out in such a competitive world.

“You can’t get ahead of yourself,” she told Speedway Media. “You want to be successful in each series that you go to, be successful whether it’s go-karts or super late models. You know you can progress. I can go jump in a Cup car right now and be like, oh great she’s in a Cup car, but you have to progress at every level. You have to prove yourself and the only way you’re going to be good in a Cup car is you have to succeed at it. It’s definitely something you keep striving for and proving yourself, and you’ll definitely get to those next levels. Definitely, no rush though because if you rush yourself, it’s not going to be the outcome you want.”

Zamora also talked about the pros and cons of being a female driver in a male-dominated sport.

“Being a girl has its pros and cons for sure. I received a lot of love and hate, just for being a girl. It doesn’t necessarily have to do what I am doing on track, it’s the fact that I’m a girl, not a guy. I mean it helps me to get to where I am being one of the few females in the sport, then to be a smaller portion of the ones that have been successful time after time. You just want to keep proving that. But yeah, like Janet Guthrie and Lyn St. James, I really look up to both of them. A lot of the hate stuff was when I first got into stock cars and some were upset to see a 14-year old who was winning races and championships, let alone that she is a girl too.

“I don’t think about it, honestly. It’s not a concern to me; it’s not going to affect my ability on the track. It’s just bringing a girl to the sport in such a male-dominated sport that some girls are a little too timid to get into that. It’s what I love to do and I’m not going to let anybody stop me or talk down on me for it.”

With young drivers getting so much added pressure to get into a Cup car right away, Brittney describes whether or not it’s a realistic expectation for her.

“Being a racecar driver or stock car driver obviously, the goal is to become a Cup driver one day,” Zamora told Speedway Media. “That’s how you know you truly made it. Being realistic, there’s only what, like 35 people in the entire world that are in the Cup Series. So chances are very slim. What I want to get out of racing is a career in any series that I can have. Whether it’s going back to the Super Late Models, or going to the track and being a threat for the win. Just to make a career out of racing would be my goal. NASCAR would be great, but I truly would be happy with racing anything in my career.”

Brittney also kind shared what lays ahead of her for next year.

“I would like to keep doing K&N next year full time,” Zamora continued. “I don’t think one year in the series is enough. Especially with how many tracks you go to and the competition you’re racing against. I think getting multiple years would help to really be able to prove yourself in that series and being adaptive to that series, and prepare yourself for the next level.”

“Yeah, K&N full-time next year would be ideal. I would love to be able to make a Truck (Series) start here and there, maybe run a couple of ARCA races. That would really be ideal for next year.”

Brittney is not being the only female racer in the K&N Series as Hailie Deegan is another up and coming star who is making a name for herself by already having two wins in the series. In fact, some may not know that Deegan is Zamora’s teammate. Even though they are teammates, they don’t interact as much as someone may think they do.

“I think our styles are two totally different,” the Washington State driver explains. “I think we approach race day and practice day with different mindsets, the complete opposite. So we have to kind of do our own thing. You know our teams rely on each other, but we kind of keep to ourselves and focus on what we are doing. The team aspect comes into play for sets up, crew chiefs relying on each other and helping out the teams when we need it, but all three of us drivers are really independent and focus on what’s going on with our car.”

Even though Zamora is young and it’s still early in her career, she already has a race that she wishes she can do over again.

“I would like to do Irwindale,” she said. “I’ve had a race at that track before, so only one. I’m not like a pro at that track or anything, but it’s the only track I’ve been to on the schedule. I felt pretty confident going into it. You know, we didn’t qualify great. I qualified 11th, but within 10 laps I was up to fourth. For a top runner, we had a fast car. There were a couple of things I was feeling in the car like it getting a little tight on me. During our halfway break, we tried to fix that and it wasn’t like that anymore in the second half. You know we just kept climbing to the top.”

“Unfortunately, we over adjusted. We went the right way, we just did too much on the car. We fell back a little bit in the second half. I think that if we would have minimized our set up changes, I think we would have been spot on. I think we would have been up there competing for the win at the end of that race.”

One of the biggest honors of Zamora’s career so far is winning the Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award.

“Last year when I got the call it was actually kind of shocking,” Zamora said. “I didn’t even know I was in the running for it. There were over 500 drivers eligible for this award. To know the people around the racing community voted for me, there had to be submissions. You know, people had to write a letter and vote for you. So that was truly amazing to know that people saw our efforts and saw that we would overcome our troubles, and jump into the next level and keep moving award.”

“To have the award, the Wendell Scott Trailblazer is huge. I’m honored. I would really like to know who submitted my name and who voted for me. I would love to thank them for believing in me. It’s crazy for me because it wasn’t that great of a year looking back on it. And knowing that other people are noticing your hard work, that was really cool.”

Asked why fans should cheer for her, Zamora said, “I feel like I go into the racing world with a different mindset and this is what I love to do. I have so much passion for it and what you see is what you get. I don’t put on a fake personality or a fake identity for the cameras, or anything. What you see is who I am. This is what I feel like I was born to do. You know when I strap in to get on the track, I feel at home. I just hope to make a good name for the females in the sport and keep showing the younger girls that we can be competitive and be successful.”

Rapid Fire with Brittney Zamora

SM: What’s one thing fans don’t know about you?
Zamora: “This one is pretty cool because every time I say it, people are shocked by it. I raced for the past 15 years. In the past 14 years, I’ve done competitive dance and I’m a national champion.”

SM: If you could be a racecar part, what would that be?
Zamora: “Oh I would definitely be a motor. There’s just so much speed. I don’t know, they are pretty unique and special.”

SM: Favorite track on the schedule?
Zamora: “Bristol.”

SM: Driver you would most like to race against in any series?
Zamora: “Kyle Busch.”

SM: What is your favorite social media app?
Zamora: “Instagram.”

SM: What is your favorite midnight snack?
Zamora: “Salsa.”

SM: Your favorite movie?
Zamora: “The Blind Side.”

SM: Your favorite TV show?
Zamora: “Okay, everyone laughs at me for this but the Kids Baking Championship like with the kids and stuff. I’m all about competition, so I think it’s cool to watch anything like that.”

SM: What is your favorite animal?
Zamora: “Dog.”

SM: Are you superstitious?
Zamora: “Yes. I have to have a pair of race day socks that I always wear. When putting on my gloves and shoes, I always have to put on the left one first.”

SM: Are you nervous before a race? Do you have any dreams about racing? Do you have nightmares about missing a race?
Zamora: “I’m a little bit of both. You know, dreams about going to the track and winning. Then nightmares, you go on the track and crash, or parts break, anything like that. But yeah a little bit of both.”

SM: Is there a food you don’t recommend eating on race day?
Zamora: “Anything heavy or greasy. That’s a no, on race day. Stay away from all of that.”

SM: How long does it take for the adrenaline to wear off after a race?
Zamora: “I would probably say at least an hour or two.”

SM: Who is your racing hero?
Zamora: “It would be my dad (Mike Zamora) for sure. That’s who I grew up watching, admired, wanted to do everything he did.”

SM: What or who is the most famous Twitter account that you follow?
Zamora: “I would probably have to say Mark Martin. I don’t know, I would have to go and look. Yeah, I kind of had to look at it twice you know? Be like really? The Mark Martin?”

SM: Who is the most famous person you have ever met?
Zamora: “I’ve met a few Cup drivers like Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney. I would probably have to say those guys.”

SM: Were you popular in High School?
Zamora: “I wasn’t like super popular, but a lot of people were really interested in what I did. Racing. They would always like to hear about it. They would always have me bring like clips and stuff from racing. They wanted to see.”

SM: Are you a morning or night owl?
Zamora: “Night owl for sure.”

SM: Expectations at the end of the season?
Zamora: “The three goals that I’m dead set on achieving are top five in the championship points, I want Rookie of The Year, and yeah, I want at least a win or two this year, minimum. If we can get those three, I would be pretty happy with how this season goes. Those are the three I’m dead set on. I’m also not about the burnouts because I hate how hard they are on the motor and stuff. I kind of call it respecting our equipment. Especially because this isn’t my stuff. So no burnouts or anything. I definitely do after every win I’ve had, I do like a polish victory lap. So I would probably keep that going.”

You can follow Brittney Zamora on Twitter @brittneyz52 and on Instagram @brittney.zamora.racing. You can also check out Brittney’s website by visiting https://brittneyzamora.com/ for all the latest news and updates.

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