When Sara Montgomery was 10 years old, her dad got free tickets to attend an Indy car race at the Texas Motor Speedway and so the family packed in the car and went on vacation to Dallas. “I fell in love with everything about the sport and before the trip was over, I begged my parents to let me get involved in racing,” says the Lafayette resident and UL graduate.
It took two years of convincing her parents, but Sarah participated in her first race, at 12, on a dirt oval go kart track. “I managed to smash the kart into the wall,” she laughs.
Now barely 25, she’s racing with the big boys, literally. In the Sebring Florida six-hour endurance race, she was the only female. In three of the four prestigious Global Mx5 Cup Races, Montgomery finished fourth, outperforming any female who has ever driven in that series. She bumped up to driving in the opening race of The Indy Car Race, which for those who don’t follow car racing is like being the opening for the Rolling Stones.
“I’m very competitive,” Montgomery says “and the mindset of wanting to win kicks in when the race begins. When I sit in the car with all my gear on, it’s very adrenalin-driven for me. It’s weird, but being enclosed in a small space, strapped with 5 seat belts, feels safe to me!”
If Montgomery seems to be confident it’s because she works at it. “This is a tough business. There are days with bad performances and a lot of time spent trying to find sponsors, but I still push forward and have trust in myself and my capabilities,” she says.
Then there are the physical and mental aspects of racing. Imagine going 120 mph with four cars on every bumper; your heart is racing 180 bpm; sweat is pouring down your body because you have on eight layers of clothing and it’s over 120 degrees in the car. Still, Montgomery keeps her mental focus and works at staying in good physical shape, exercising four to five days a week.
Competitive, confident and a genuinely happy person are traits of Montgomery’s that have won over sponsors like Lemons of Love, Lafayette Travel, Shifted Up Now and Harrison Contracting Company.
There are twelve races on her schedule when the season begins in June, along with eight others. Finishing off the season with a top three win would be a check mark on Montgomery’s wish list. When the season is over, the focus will be on securing sponsors for the 2020 season. The cost for each race comes close to $25,000. Montgomery doesn’t shy away from hard work and she is hoping her efforts get her a full-time ride next year.
Focused more than ever, she has her sights on a lengthy racing career rising to her becoming a paid pro driver. “In fact, If I make it as a paid pro, my family and I made a pack that we’d each get a tattoo of the one word I live by: Believe.”