Heading into Roebling Road Raceway in Georgia for the 50th Anniversary Formula Vee race, Kim Madrid had made peace with the notion of settling for a top-10 finish, and simply enjoying the celebration. Although, after the competitive juices started flowing during her first practice session on Friday, that outlook got a significant upgrade. Talking with Dietmar Bauerle, her engine builder, she boldly remarked “I think I may be able to win this race."
Madrid was so dominating that she was passing lapped traffic by second lap.
Kim Madrid driving the hot-pink Formula Vee, and sporting her trademark pink Mohawk helmet, won the race in Georgia.
And how sweet a victory would that be for the woman from Rancho Cucamonga, California, coming to a track in the south and thumping the hometown boys in the biggest race of the year. The woman driving the hot-pink Caldwell Formula Vee D-13, sporting her trademark pink Mohawk helmet, absolutely fed off that inspiration.
Saturday morning didn’t start out as promising as Madrid had hoped for. After completing only three laps during the first qualifying session, a cracked trailing arm ended things prematurely. She still qualified third, and initially she again considered settling for that, but it passed.
“We had a one hour break before a second chance at qualifying. Everyone in our pit was working like crazy trying to get the suspension part welded back together so that we could get back out on the track to try a qualify even better,” Madrid said. “We were able to fix it. I made it out for qualifying a little late, but still had time to get a few laps in, including a couple of clean laps with no traffic.”
The win at Roebling Road Raceway is another huge entry on Madrid’s already impressive résumé.
After that session, when she drove back to her pit she could see her family and engine builder celebrating, and they were all running towards her car. Madrid figured she must have qualified better than her friend, race rival, and fellow Californian, Bob Hatle. The first thing she heard was “You not only out qualified Bob, you’ve got the Pole Position!”
That evening there was a huge dinner and birthday party with 450 people all celebrating 50 years of Formula Vee racing. A number of speakers addressed the partying crowd, including 1998 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, Steve Knapp. Madrid and her entire team, motivated by her pole position, celebrated with a little extra verve.
“On Sunday morning while sitting at the pole position on grid and waiting for the race to start I was so nervous,” Madrid admitted. “I thought I was going to throw up in my helmet. This was going to be a 15-lap race on this 2.2 mile track, regardless of the time.”
“It was a great race with Bob and me dominating the field. We were running into lapped cars by lap-2. We put on our usual great show, trading positions like we always do, going side-by-side, into and out of corners. You have to really trust the people you’re racing with to do that, especially in an open wheel car.”
The two did indeed make it a thoroughly entertaining contest, with only seven laps remaining there was an incident when two cars touched tires, and one ended up off the track uninjured. “At this point I was getting nervous,” said Madrid, with Bob in the lead at that point. “I was beginning to think that the race may finish under the yellow flag, which would have given Bob the win.”
The K&N sponsored driver remarked that she could not have won without the support of her family and engine builder.
The cars completed six agonizing laps under the yellow flag before the pace car turned off the flashing lights, leaving a dramatic one lap dash to the checkered flag.
“I knew that I was going to have one green flag lap to get around Bob and win the race.
Then if I get by him I was going to have to drive a perfect lap to keep him behind me.
When we saw that the green flag waving we took off as fast as we could and we were side-by-side going down the front straight-a-way just seeing who would get to turn one first. Well, low and behold, I pulled it off. I out-braked him going into turn one. I was in front the whole lap to take the checkered flag. I was the overall winner in the race.
I was so excited that I could barely hold onto the steering wheel while taking the cool down lap.”
“It was a great experience, but it’s really funny, because the good ole boys in the South were not happy,” Madrid adds. “I just loved it! I felt like a celebrity. So many people wanted pictures of me and my car. I could not have done any of this if it wasn’t for the support of my family and my engine builder, Dietmar. They are my rock.”
Madrid recently took another huge step forward in her racing, purchasing a newer version Vee called a Laser MK 2.5. “I have been doing some SCCA Majors races along with some regional races. I am still running mid-pack due to not being comfortable in the car yet. But just give me time and I will be the thorn in the other driver’s side just like I am in the vintage group.”
May 18-19 Madrid will host her annual Formula Vee race; she will also be racing her vintage D-13 at the SVRA West race at Auto Club Speedway on the weekend of June 21-23. The K&N racer’s next big race will be defending her title at the West Coast Pacific Championship race at Buttonwillow Raceway Park with the SCCA Cal Club on October 26th and 27.
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