Mazda Global MX-5 Cup racer Sarah Montgomery silences the doubters
Back-to-back podiums lifts weight off 25-year-old’s shoulders
In May 2017, Sarah Montgomery was racing at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in the Pirelli World Challenge when that particularly unforgiving track threatened to end her racing career – and possibly worse. Her Honda Civic went out of control at the track’s brutal turn 2, possibly due to a flat tire, and hit the wall. Then it flipped. Eight times.
Montgomery, 25, understandably woozy, emerged with a concussion, and effects that lingered for weeks. Several ribs were broken. But worst of all, she totaled her car, and unlike many racers at that level, she couldn’t just write a check to cover it.
So the Lafayette, Louisiana, racer set to rebuild her racing career, one saved-up dollar at a time. With help from friends and sponsors, she landed a ride in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Series, some of the hardest-fought racing in the country. She learned, she improved, and this year she moved to the Sebring, Florida-based Sick Sideways team owned by former series champion John Dean.
And that did it. In the history of the MX-5 Cup Series, no female racer had ever finished on the podium. And not only that, she did it twice in the same weekend, accomplishing the feat the first weekend in September at Portland International Raceway.
“I set so many goals for myself this year, with finishing on the podium being at the top of my list. Of course, I want to win a race, but baby steps, I figured. Podium first, then shoot for the stars to get a win. I was putting so much pressure on myself to be the first female to hit the podium. I was trying not to let the pressure affect my performance. It didn’t, but once I got out of the car after finishing third in the first race at Portland, I genuinely felt a weight lifted off my shoulders.”
Montgomery had always known she belonged in racing, but now any doubters knew it, too. “It was extremely cool when I got out of the car after my podiums, and racers Sarah Fisher and Max Papis personally came up to congratulate me. At that moment, I knew it was real.”
Montgomery hopes to be back with the team when the 2020 season starts in April at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, and she tries to make it to the top step of the podium.