SCC: Homestead: Kayla Graham series debut preview

Young Racer Kayla Graham Makes Professional Debut at Homestead-Miami Grand-Am FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.....Kayla Graham, a 17-year-old high school senior from Lighthouse Point, Florida will make her professional racing debut this week at the ...

Young Racer Kayla Graham Makes Professional Debut at Homestead-Miami Grand-Am

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.....Kayla Graham, a 17-year-old high school senior from Lighthouse Point, Florida will make her professional racing debut this week at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Kayla, who started racing go-karts at age 12, will compete in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge on Saturday, March 6th.

The 2.5-hour sports car race is sanctioned by Grand-Am Road Racing, which is owned by NASCAR. Kayla will be driving the No. 85 Classic BMW Z4, sponsored by Bonefish Mac's. Her co-drivers this weekend include her trusted mentor and coach, Andre Serra, and Continental Tire Challenge regular, Toby Grahovec.

This won't be Kayla's first visit to the South Florida raceway, as she has previously driven on the 2.3-mile, 11-turn superspeedway in a couple of Skip Barber Racing School events. Additionally, Kayla raced go-karts on the superspeedway in the Homestead Karting Championship in 2009 in the Rotax Senior class.

Kayla driving instructor, Serra, coaches her in everything from go-kart to open-wheel cars to production car racing. A native of Brazil, Andre is very influential in the South Florida racing community and has brought in some heavy hitters to guide Kayla and give her the driving tips she needs to grow in the world of racing. Helio Castroneves, Oswaldo Negri, Raphael Matos, Vitor Miera and Tony Kanaan are all drivers who have put young Kayla under their wings and counseled her at the go-kart tracks. Kayla is not intimidated by these famous racers but soaking in their suggestions and expanding her abilities.

"Kayla is really excited about her first race at the pro level this weekend," said Andre Serra, the 1987 Formula Ford Rookie of the Year. "We had two test days last week in the BMW Z4 race car. She was just a second off from me and Toby, who has been racing the same car for three years."

"I think we have plenty of time before the race during the promoter test session on Thursday to get her a lot more seat time," added Serra. "She knows the race track because she did a Skip Barber Racing School and Lapping Day here. I think for her age of 17, she's got a lot of confidence and she's ready. It is going to be a good experience for her. We've all got to work hard and try for the best results this weekend."

The 5'4', 115-pound Graham, with her "girl-next-door" good looks and sweet smile, might fool some of her male counterparts. She may be new to the professional sports car racing ranks but she is a formidable opponent. She has high goals to become a professional race car driver and has committed fully to her lofty aspirations. She withdrew from attending regular high school early in her senior year to focus solely on racing and become a Virtual School student. Instead of proms, pep rallies, football games and friends, she has spent most of her winter at the race track honing her driving skills.

"My love of racing has always been around," said Kayla, who was born in Orlando, Florida. "I've always gone to races every since I was little with my Dad, and I told him when I grew up I wanted to do this some day when I get older. My Dad is real big on if you have a dream, you follow it. That's what I did. I never gave up on it. I always, always wanted to go back to the dream. Then we met Andre and opportunities came up and things have really just fallen into place nicely. This weekend's race is such a big deal, and I'm hoping to get a lot of experience and exposure. I'm really excited!"

Kayla, like all athletes, has a strict training routine. She works out five days a week running, biking, doing strength training and yoga. Kayla has a tremendous amount of support from her father, John, who introduced her to the sports of racing as a youngster, and her mother, Sharon, who serves as Kayla's business manager, chaperone, Mom and right-hand assistant. Kayla's older sister, Ashley, a college student, also supports her little sister's passion for speed.

The local South Florida young lady will have plenty of family and friend at the track to cheer her on and support her in her first pro race. She has a lot to prove in front of her hometown crowd this weekend, as well as her many male competitors.

-source: kayla graham racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Skip Barber , Toby Grahovec , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Kayla Graham , Andre Serra