The sun is Southern California hot, the smell of exhaust and dirt and metal hover vaguely in the air. Sara Price is there, not even old enough to walk, but soaking it all in, infant synapses connecting.
An 8-year-old Sara Price is there too, finding her balance on a mini-bike while her brother practices on the larger track, her parents hoping the bike will at least keep Price’s seemingly boundless energy focused.
And more than a decade later Sara Price is there in Toronto. She’s the one controlling a few thousand pounds of fuel and steel as she crosses the finish line, becoming the first woman to ever compete in a Stadium Super Truck race.
Without exaggeration Price’s entire life has orbited around the racetrack, but that often obsessive drive has come at a cost. Her parents attempt to simply keep a young Price occupied during her brother’s practices quickly exploded into a dream that would shape the course of her life.
“I won my first [motocross] race and never quit,” she told me. “I only wanted to race more and more. My dream was to become a professional motocross racer, it’s all I wanted.”
And so while the kids she grew up with were going to the movies and dancing awkwardly at middle school dances, Price was crossing the country on the national amatuer circuit, quickly amassing a litany of victories and national champions. And while her classmates were hunkered over desks, watching the clock tick second by agonizing second, Price was racing lap after lap after humid lap, unstoppably magnetized by visions of turning pro.
At the time Price didn’t care in the slightest that she was outside of the teenage world her peers were so immersed in, but in retrospect there was a kind of loneliness haunting her, a loneliness known only to musicians, comics, athletes and all those who spend more time in hotel lobbies than their own beds.
All that sacrifice seemed to have paid off when Price raced in the X-Games, but soon after the women’s motocross event was cancelled, snatching away her dream at the exact moment she had finally achieved it.
The blow was far more than professional for someone for whom the difference between life on a bike and living was paper thin. Price was suddenly forced to confront a future without the one thing that had defined her every waking, and dreaming, moment.
“Everyone knew me as Sara Price the motocross girl,” she said. “They didn’t really know me as a person. I didn’t know myself as a person. I didn’t really have a life without racing, that was my everything. So when I didn’t have racing, I was soul searching and trying to figure it out. Am I even a cool person without racing? Am I a nice person?”
And so Price returned home, back to the beginning, back to her family’s auto business. But while she began to rebuild all the parts of herself that had gone unfinished in her headlong rush through adolescence into professional racing, the itch to race still ran bone deep.
She sioib began racing street cars, and then because Sara Price has never driven something that she didn’t want to drive bigger and faster, she began driving trucks. “I chase what’s cool, I don’t stick with one thing,” Price explained.
In short order racing legend Robby Gordon saw her driving and began talking to her about racing for him, but when that deal fell through in echoes of the X-Games cancellation, this time around Price had been through too much, had built up too much of herself, to be devastated.
The seed has been planted, she was now determined to race trucks, and so when Gordon’s Stadium Super Truck series eventually got off the ground and running, Price was there with Gordon serving as both the owner of the series and a mentor, a situation she calls “insane.” (For non-racing fans, picture being drafted by Michael Jordan, or being signed to Jay Z.)
While Price is certainly making history as the first female driver to ever race Stadium Super Truck, and she has been dealing with an amount of “Look at that girl!” since her childhood days, once her helmet goes on she’s a racer just like everyone, and as a racer she’s poised to become of the best. She had a lot to prove in that first Toronto race, and she proved it.
Sara Price has a plate holding together her left collarbone, there are seven metal screws inside her. She’s had two shoulder reconstructions and endured concussions and whiplash. She’s pushed on through parents telling their sons they better not lose to a girl and had her dreams yanked away just as they moved within reach.
Throughout it all Price has pushed on because she’s a racer and that’s what racers do. They keep going. She knows that, she’s known it from her earliest years, and now she also knows herself.
[By Nathan Slavik, @RefinedHype]