‘I’m the crew chief, she’s the driver’: Kennewick racing champ gets her skills from dad

KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Most nights of the week, you can find Mike Zamora in his garage alongside his stepfather and best friend Larry.

"We work hard," Mike says.

"We kind of do everything," says Larry.

It's a group effort rooted in the same passion: racing and the 52 car.

"There's just something about the competition, combined with the speed and maybe the danger," Mike says. "There's nothing like it."

Mike raced for 20 years, and although he doesn't anymore, the 52 car still does.

"It's the greatest thing you can imagine, to see your child doing something you love," Mike says.

On race day, Mike is right there next to his 19-year-old daughter Brittney.

"When we get to the track, we're not so much father and daughter anymore. It's a little bit of a different role. I'm the crew chief. She's the driver," Mike explains.

But it wasn't that way in the beginning.

"I went to the race track when I was four days old, a brand new baby out at the race track," Brittney says. "My dad was racing, so it's always been in my blood. It's what I've known my whole life ... You see your dad out there doing that, and then, you know, I want to go do that."

And that's exactly what she did.

"I got into go karts at the age of 4. That's the youngest that you can actually start racing," Brittney says. "Been doing it for the past 15 years, moved from go carts to mini stocks to limited late models to super late models. And now we're in the Cannon Pro Series."

All along, her family has been her crew, which made the decision about the 52 car an easy one.

"I could see how good she was in the stock car ... so I knew that she was going to be good in the big cars. It wasn't that hard," Mike says.

It was the right decision.

Brittney was named Rookie of the Year in the super late models when she was just 16 years old. From there, she won back-to-back championships, earning her a spot on the Nascar K&N Pro Series for the 2019 season.

But success didn't come without its own set of challenges.

"Definitely being a girl in racing, it's had its ups and downs," Brittney says. "The first couple of years were pretty tough because, you know, grown men in the 40s and 50s were getting beat by a 14-year-old girl, and they didn't like it at all.

"That's where the mental toughness comes in," she continues. "You've got to kind of throw those to the side ... You got to work a little harder to prove yourself."

Fortunately, Brittney lives for the challenge.

"I see them as opportunities," she says.

It's a lesson she learned from her dad.

"He's always told me, you have one head on your shoulders, two hands and two feet, and if you've got the passion to go out there and race, then it doesn't matter what gender you are," Brittney says.

So most nights, Mike is in the garage alongside Brittney, working on the car. His car. Her car. The 52 car.

"It's just who we are," Mike says. "It's her number now."

Brittney is currently racing for Bill McAnally Racing. She's on the second woman to drive for the team. Only two levels stand in between Brittney and her reaching her dream of racing in the NASCAR Spring Cup.

To put that into perspective, she's basically at the AA level of racing -- an incredible feat when you consider she's only 19 years old.

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