One of the big talking points of the 2018 Kulwicki Driver Development Program is the strong representation of the Pacific Northwest, and in particular the State of Washington, coming courtesy of Seattle’s Molly Helmuth and Kennewick’s Brittney Zamora. While both drivers have established themselves the past couple of seasons in the region, both have taken different paths, especially in 2018.
This Saturday, both paths converge on one track and one event: Evergreen Speedway and the Summer Showdown.
Helmuth has been busy putting in time running Super Late Models in the Southeast mostly in the CARS Tour. While she has enjoyed her time across country, the 23-year-old is happy to be racing at her home track of Evergreen Speedway where she is a former Most Popular Driver.
“It’s always nice to run the Summer Showdown, especially because it’s at my home track Evergreen Speedway. It’s a great event with good cars. It’s neat to do the long race weekend, and it makes for a good show,” Helmuth told Speed51.com.
Running a race like the Summer Showdown takes a lot of work and effort from both driver and team. But Helmuth is also approaching it as just another part of her summer break after working hard towards her career all spring. But the same determination is all there.
“This is kind of my break right now where I’ve already been home for two weeks and then I’ll be home for the rest of July before I fly back east to Hickory. It’s nice to be home with my family and friends, even just to be in my own shop. I’m on my own schedule and know what I need to do for this big race weekend, like cooking food for the weekend. It’s nice to have a kitchen instead of being in a hotel.”
This weekend marks Helmuth’s sixth run at the Summer Showdown, but it has been a race that has not been kind to her for the most part. Something that she is eager to change on Saturday, and that after testing, she may just have the racecar to do it with.
“We tested last week at the Speedway and we were pretty good, but I don’t want to jinx it though. It’s hard to judge when there’s only seven drivers on a pretty green track. Hopefully the speed is still there. It is going to be a little hotter this weekend. We were pretty good, so I’m excited.”
On the other side of the KDDP coin, Brittney Zamora is a newcomer to Evergreen and the Summer Showdown. In addition to chasing a second straight Northwest Super Late Model title, the 19-year-old is also competing as a Super Late Model rookie at Evergreen where she currently sits fourth in points.
Now she is poised to cross off the Summer Showdown from her to-do list.
“I’m so excited. I’ve only watched this race since they started running it, and it’s finally time to be in it this year. It’s going to be a great experience.”
The Showdown has established a reputation of bringing in in the top drivers on the West Coast and even some from across the U.S and Canada. For some drivers it might seem intimidating, but Zamora holds her usual competition in very high regards, and is ready for who’s coming to town.
“Racing in the Northwest you have a bunch of very talented drivers for just about every race. But having people like Preston Peltier come up for this race, it just shows you how big of a race it is. Hopefully we can stack up well against guys like him.”
There is one notable nugget for Zamora’s season at Evergreen. Most of the SLM races so far have been on the track’s 3/8-mile oval, the Summer Showdown will be on the full 5/8-mile track. Indeed, there are many variables facing Zamora, but she is prepared to face them and possibly get a shot at a major win.
“I raced once on the 5/8-mile back in May, so hopefully we can take some experience in. But since we’ve never done this race, we’re not sure of the exact strategy to start off with. We’re going to try and maintain our position and tires for the first 100 laps, make sure our car is ready for the second 100 laps. If we come out of it with a top ten we’re going to be really happy, but I’m always hoping to do better.”
Race fans from all over the globe can follow what’s going on at Evergreen Speedway all weekend long with Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage this Friday and Saturday.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Molly Helmuth Facebook