Steering fear in the face
Master equestrian and an up-and-coming go-kart driver Sara Misir, 19, defies the odds by not only being the only female driver in a pink and white Volkswagen Saveiro, but by being a master equestrian and an up-and-coming go-kart driver. This confident and determined young woman embodies the type of gumption it takes to go down in history in the male-dominated field of motor sports.
Her need for speed began on just one horsepower, at a very young age. However, as she became more exposed to competitive racing, she decided to up the ante and take on the world of motorsports.
"I started motocross racing with my father at age 10 on a little automatic '50' and then stepped up to a 450 CRF," said Misir. After sustaining a critical injury to her jaw during her years of horseback riding, she decided to take a break from her main passion. Misir was then encouraged by her father to pursue go-karting.
"He pushed me into starting go-karting. In the beginning I was kinda iffy, but when I started doing it, I really loved it," said Misir.
After experiencing the adrenaline rush that came with the speed from go-karting, Misir was hooked. She appreciated the challenge that came with karting and how it revolved around skill.
"I think it is one of the most difficult forms of racing apart
from Formula 1 because in go-karting, everybody has the exact same thing. The same engine, go-kart and weight. It is all skill, and nobody has an advantage over anybody," explained Misir. She was recruited in late November last year while on the Palisadoes raceway and began professional training within the senior rank. "My coach was very impressed with how far and fast I've come, so I competed in the Winter Tour, which is one of the biggest go-karting tournaments within the US," said Misir. She was able to qualify and place within the top 20 which contained 40 racers within every race. Misir is also one of the only girls to make it in the top 100 within the US.
This week, The Gleaner had a one-on-one with Sara Misir, to really get to know the female driver who is creating such a buzz.
What do you think your reputation is? And how accurate is that reputation?
"My reputation so far is, 'who is that girl and why is she so aggressive?' Because I am a girl, guys think we can't be as aggressive as them, but I am even more aggressive than most of them on the field," said Misir.
Tell us about your truck? How long have you had it and what are the modifications?
"My little truck is the VW Saveiro. I never planned on racing it because it was so slow. My dad just asked if I wanted to race at Dover one day and I said, 'sure'."
It was an offer she could never turn down because it was something she always wanted to do. The truck belonged to her father and was given to her to race in. "I loved it. It has the pep. It handled well on the track and I just love trucks. I have not done much to it apart from take off the catalytic converter on the muffler to go pass 140. I lowered it, did rally suspensions on the back and tie straps so the wheels won't come off the ground while turning. I also did a cool air intake on the breaks because Dover eats breaks," said Misir.
Would you say being the only woman in a race puts you at an advantage or disadvantage?
"There is a slight disadvantage because the guys don't expect me to be a challenge. I have to do 10 times more practicing to show that I am worth the competition. My last name also puts me at a slight disadvantage because my father was huge within racing and that is something that I have to live up to. What he put down, I have to repave it. I admire the pressure because it gives me something to work towards."
What goes through your mind during a race?
"Oh, absolutely nothing. All I am thinking about is the corner, the entrance, the exit, stopping braking and gassing. When I race I see everything in slow motion. I see what is going to happen before it happens. I can tell what the driver is going to do before he does it just by seeing what he does within the first lap," said Misir.
What are some of the challenges you've experienced in racing?
"My biggest challenge is going from the top to the bottom of the food chain. I did horseback riding for 15 years and was very good at it. Switching to karting and racing is me starting over again and having to relearn everything. I found myself love in winning, so when I started karting and kept losing I had to re-evaluate myself. It's just been a year, I have a lot more to go." said Misir.
Where did you see the journey originally taking you?
"Originally, I saw it as a little hobby, because I was so focused on horseback riding and the Olympics. That was my one true passion. I was always frustrated with karting because I kept losing. It was something to pass time. However I went back into horseback riding and broke my shoulder so I had to take another break. I had to understand that I am just starting and there are people that have been doing it for years before me, so I am going to lose. I just need to focus on learning to get better. I don't want to stop my training in karting or at Dover, so I am looking to go into schools to get that training," said Misir.
What are you goals as a race car driver and what are you doing to get closer to those goals?
"You can just imagine being the only Jamaican girl in Formula 1," laughed Misir. She has indicated that she has no set goals, however she is aiming to take racing as far as she can go. "I would have an advantage because of the ethnicity and the gender of being a girl which makes me stand out."
If you were supposed to choose one person to drive with in the passenger seat during a race at Dover, who would you choose and why?
"I definitely wouldn't choose my father; the last time he drove with me everything I did was wrong and I already hear enough of that at home. I would choose uncle David (David Summerbell Jr.) because when I drive with him he is a lot calmer and he knows the track so well because that is his home track.