Sports

Racing is a family tradition for Decatur’s Kayla Pittman

Kayla Pittman, a 16-year-old junior at Decatur, will kick off her racing season later this month in her 2004 Ford Taurus. - Courtesy photo
Kayla Pittman, a 16-year-old junior at Decatur, will kick off her racing season later this month in her 2004 Ford Taurus.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Kayla Pittman has been driving race cars since she was 8 years old.

She has barreled down a straightaway at over 100 mph in a full-size stock car and been involved in numerous wrecks during her years behind the steering wheel at tracks around the Pacific Northwest.

But you won’t see the 16-year-old Decatur High School junior driving around the streets of Federal Way any time soon. Mainly because she doesn’t even have her driver’s license yet.

“I’ve done driver’s ed,” Pittman said with a smile. “I just haven’t went to get my license. My teacher said I was a pretty good driver during my class. I told him I’ve been driving a race car since I was eight.”

Racing is in her blood. The whole Pittman family is involved in the sport, traveling in a huge motor home and fifth-wheel trailer. She is a third generation racer. Her grandfather, Chuck Pittman, raced late model stock cars in the 1960s and ‘70s and her dad, Darryl, raced quarter midgets in the 1970s.

Chuck is essentially the crew chief for Pittman’s cars, doing some engine and body work.  Also, her 14-year-old sister, Tarah, and 12-year-old brother, Chase, also race. Both attend Lakota Middle School. The family atmosphere around the race track is something that has appealed to Pittman.

“People at the track are all super nice people,” Pittman said. “They are people I will stay friends with for a long time. It’s something the whole family can do.”

But racing cars isn’t really the norm for a high school girl in Federal Way. While most girls are playing soccer, basketball and softball, Pittman is watching her grandpa doing body work and tuning up an engine.

“A lot of people say negative things,” Pittman said. “Things like, ‘Oh, that’s so easy. All you do is turn left.’ Then you get the people who think it’s cool and want to come watch you and stuff.”

Later this month, Pittman will enter a new stage in her very successful racing career when she starts her first season in the in the Northwest Pro4 Alliance. It’s a huge jump in classes. Pittman has spent her entire career racing in cars called quarter midgets, which are essentially go karts with lawnmower engines.

Pittman’s Pro4 car is a full-body 2004 Ford Taurus and will produce about 275 horsepower and run at speeds of 100 mph or more.

“I have been racing quarter midgets for a while and now I’m ready to move up to something bigger,” Pittman said.

The Northwest Pro4 season will take the Pittmans all over the Pacific Northwest in places like Twin Falls, Ida., Spokane and Yakima, among others. She will also be competing in the FSRCA Series at the South Sound Speedway in Rochester.

The Pittmans bought the Pro4 car which finished as the runner-up in last year’s championship points race.

“The car is good enough and she’s good enough,” Chuck Pittman said. “She is going to surprise some people.”

Kayla Pittman began racing in a quarter-midget car one month before her ninth birthday in 2004 and has excelled at every level, progressing through faster and more competitive classes year after year. She has a grand total of 112 trophies with the largest standing 5-feet tall, which came after she won the Dirt Grand National Championship in 2010.

“I just love driving fast,” Pittman said. “I just love everything about it. There is a lot of adrenaline and you get excited. It’s very uplifting.”

The quarter-midget cars are exactly how they sound. They are approximately one-quarter the size of a full-size midget car. Children 5 through 16 are eligible to participate in the numerous quarter-midget classifications. Tracks are typically banked ovals one-twentieth of a mile long, and have a surface of dirt, concrete or asphalt. The Quarter Midgets of America club boasts more than 4,000 members and 50 clubs nationwide.

Pittman won her first junior novice feature race during her first season in a car in 2004.

She set her first track record in 2006 and was the recipient of the “President’s Inspirational Award” that same year. In 2007, Pittman was voted the senior driver of the year and won her first season championship in the CKA Winter Dirt Series. She followed with another season title in 2008 in the Briggs World Formula Division.

In 2009, Pittman took another huge step forward in her racing career by making her first grand national “A” main event appearance, finishing second. The next year, Pittman was the Northwest States race champion and won the dirt grand national championship in the Light Briggs World Formula category.

“Obviously, my ultimate goal would be NASCAR,” Pittman said. “That would be awesome. But we are just going to see what happens. What kind of things come up.”

Pittman Racing is seeking sponsorship for its Pro 4 Late Model stock car program. In exchange for sponsorship money, a business or individual will get their name displayed on her car and trailer, along with other perks.

For more information, contact Darryl Pittman at (206) 714-0107 or email pdarryl@hotmail.com.

 

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