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8 September 2022
The team was so impressed with Kaylee at Toledo, that they elect to run her at World-Wide Technology Raceway (Gateway) in two weeks. But first, another check box or two. The Sam Pierce Racing Trans Am team and long-time affiliated team, LSI Racing, have booked the road course at Nashville Super Speedway to test an SPR Trans Am TA2 class Chevy Camaro SS and two of LSI Racing’s Trans Am SGT class Corvettes. Let’s harken back to Port Royal back in June for a moment. When asked where her career ambitions lie, IndyCar or NASCAR, Bryson responds “Both, but I like IndyCar the most.” Well, regardless of where she ultimately lands, road racing experience will be imperative.
LSI Racing agrees to provide a third Trans Am SGT class Corvette – a two-seat training car used for driver training, corporate ride and drives and Aaron Pierce’s first Trans Am ride back in 2017. Kaylee is invited to the test. If she can pass muster in the two-seater, learn how to heel/toe downshift and learn the road course – with its four violent transitions on and off the high banks of the super-speedway sections, perhaps she gets a lap or two in the NASCAR-style TA2 Camaro.
Bryson picks up the heel/toe downshifting in a 45-minute session in the garage area, learns the road course after a few laps in the passenger seat with AP, and is turned loose solo on the road course.
Meanwhile, Pierce shakes down the Camaro and is pleased – both with the Camaro and his student’s progress in the old Corvette following his every move around the track. The team decides to turn her loose and she is quickly up to speed – over 140 mph entering turn one, the fastest that she has ever driven. Check.
The next day is the Silver Crown race at Gateway - the biggest, baddest, fastest place on the USAC circuit. After the first practice session at about 170 mph, Bryson pulls into the pit stall, stands up in the seat, and again looks her new mentor in the eyes and asks, “How can I go any faster” Pierce replies “Girl, I cannot shoot you out of a cannon, you just need more laps.” She qualifies 13th and runs eighth in final practice in race trim – before yet another engine gives up preventing her from starting the feature.
Frustrating indeed, but it is time for one last adventure in Bryson’s ‘Summer of Pavement’.
Another long-time SPR affiliated team, Florida-based Tommy Nichols Racing reaches out to Pierce to drive their pavement winged sprint car at the Sandi DeCaire Classic at Citrus County (FL) Speedway on August 27th with an open test on the 26th. AP ups the ante and proposes that SPR covers the costs – “but let’s run Kaylee”. Nichols agrees and Kaylee flies in for the test.
No surprise, she is fast and smooth with the wing and confident for the next day’s race. As racing luck goes, the race is postponed due to weather and Bryson is denied yet another feature race in a new car.
Before the reader gets too dismayed over Bryson’s racing luck this summer, reflect on this: In the course of ten short weeks, she has tested and/or raced six different pavement cars after a 12-year career on dirt - Silver Crown, Winged and non-Winged Sprint Cars, Midget Car, Trans Am SGT and TA2 Cars - and been fast and competent in all of them. Check. Times 6.
But it gets even better race fans. There are multiple silver linings to the Gateway saga. One, she was fast and confident at 170 mph. Second, USAC allows for a driver to compete in four Silver Crown feature races and still be eligible for Rookie of the Year the following season. Third, despite engine woes at Port Royal and Gateway, SPR now has plenty of new and fresh engines in inventory. Fourth, Bryson gets to run the remaining three Silver Crown events of 2022 at Eldora, Springfield and IRP. Fifth, Kaylee will run the entire 2023 Silver Crown Series of events for Sam Pierce Racing and will be the favorite contender for Rookie of the Year 2023. She will run select events in the Trans Am Cars, Sprint Cars and Midget Cars and will sell a lot of merchandise.
If you are a race fan that likes to place a wager now and then, find a line in Vegas and bet on Bryson. She is a fearless warrior with extreme talent and will be around a long time with a very bright future. Meanwhile, summer days are getting shorter and it’s time for Kaylee to return to her normal duty of running the KKM #71 USAC Midget Car this weekend at Sweet Springs (MO) Motorsports Complex. Get your t-shirts while you can.
For further information please visit USACRacing.com and SamPierceRacing.com
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