(Aug. 23, 1999) - As Bryan Pontiac driver Derrike Cope prepares for the Goody's 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, he knows that two of his biggest fans will be watching Sunday's performance. Cope's 16-year old twin nieces, Amber and Angela Cope,...
(Aug. 23, 1999) - As Bryan Pontiac driver Derrike Cope prepares for the Goody's 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, he knows that two of his biggest fans will be watching Sunday's performance. Cope's 16-year old twin nieces, Amber and Angela Cope, have followed the Bryan Pontiac team all season long and claimed to be the No. 30 car's biggest fans.
"Every weekend, when we are not racing ourselves, we are planted in front of our T.V. cheering on our Uncle Derrike in his red and black Bryan Pontiac," Angela said. "Nobody gets as loud as we do when Uncle Derrike flies around the track."
The Cope sisters, who reside in Puyallup, Wash., were inspired by their famous Winston Cup uncle and have been racing competitively since they were nine years old. The twins are now dominating the junior Northwest go-cart circuit. In 1997, Amber won the Northwest Regional Championship, while Angela was the club champion. Both girls have finished second in the Gold Cup Circuit numerous times.
"Since they were small, they have wanted to get into racing," Cope said. "My brother purchased a small go-cart for them at Christmas a number of years back. We watched them go around a parking lot for the first time and it was very entertaining. They didn't know which was the brake and which was the throttle. I went back a year later to see them race and they really scared me. They were so proficient and going so fast, it surprised me how far they had come in one year. Now, they have won championships and they are sitting on poles each week."
Darren Cope, Derrike's brother and father to Amber and Angela, introduced the girls to racing as a project to keep the girls busy. Much to his surprise, racing is now a way of life for the twins, and a very successful one at that.
"The best part of racing is beating the boys, of course," Amber said. "They just hate losing to us. We are proving that girls can be just as competitive in racing as the guys can be, if not more."
The girls definitely received their competitive nature from the Cope side of the family. While the girls help each other on and off the track, not even a sister will stand between them and the checkered flag.
"We have taken each other out before in a race," Angela said with a laugh. "I was trying too hard to pass Amber for the lead at the end of a straightaway. We knocked each other out of the race with just four laps remaining. Normally we work together on the track. If one of us is faster than the other, we will let them by and block other drivers. We definitely look out for each other, until of course, we are one and two in the race."
The girls turned 16 this month and have already bought a late model race car in hopes to start racing it soon. The next step is to learn more about the mechanics of a race car. Fortunately for the twins, they have a racing family to teach them. Along with their Winston Cup uncle, Amber and Angela's father, and their grandfather, who raced twin-engine gas dragsters, they should help every step of the way.
"It has come to the point were they are going to have to work more and want it themselves," Darren said. "They're going to have to learn more about the car, the setup, and the motor itself. That's where you start to find out how serious they are about racing. My father and I feel that if this is what they want to do, we are going to work with both girls as far as they want to take it."
The next couple of years will decide the twin's future in racing, and Derrike has a feeling that their decision will put them behind the wheel.
"They want it badly," Derrike said. "Each week, they are very receptive to listening, learning, and they retain things well. Those are good traits for a driver to have. They are elevating their experience every year to something faster."
Maybe one day, Amber and Angela's nieces will be watching them race in the Goody's 500.