King of the Hammers Lady Driver Bio for Kaisey Gray
Driver of Record: Josh Atteberry
Co-Driver: Kaisey Gray
From: Show Low, AZ
Class: Smittybilt Every Man Challenge (EMC)
Car Number: 4693 “The Kracken”
Our car number 4693, is Maricopa County (AZ) police code 693, which stands for reckless driving. We thought that was pretty fitting for our team.
How do you know your Co-Driver? My relationship with Josh relationship stretches pretty far back actually. He’s like an uncle to me. Josh was there when I got my first car at 13, and it was actually in his garage about two years ago where he and my father taught me to run my first weld. I won’t be participating in any other special events at this years KOH.
How many times have you raced King of the Hammers? This year's 2017 King of the Hammers will be my first time racing in this event. I’m running as a co-driver in the 4600 stock class. I have not yet had the privilege of saying that I’ve finished this challenge, although that is my biggest goal going into it.
How did you get into Ultra4 Racing? I was introduced into the sport at thirteen by a good family friend and fellow racer, Rick Heck. Fulfilling a bucket list dream shared between Rick and a recently deceased friend, he gathered the funds and obtained a buggy from his nephew, Randy Rodd. My father and Rick were very close, often working on projects with one another late into the night. I remember going to the shop with my dad and hearing the buggy come to life for the first time, the deep rumble igniting the adrenaline in my veins. After days spent doing prep work on the car, Rick asked my dad to follow him in this dream of racing.
Our first race was located in Cortez, CO. Rick and his wife, Dana ,introduced us to his nephew, Randy Rodd, and his wife, Cotton, well known and accomplished racers in this sport. We were at Jimmy’s headquarters, the metal walls of the shop looming over me. As I stepped over the threshold, I was surrounded by a team of amazing people, all working together to get their own and each other's buggies functioning. I spent that night talking with the guys and assembling Rick’s tires for the morning to come.
Race day was upon us in the blink of an eye. Between Rick, my dad, and Josh, I was introduced and networking with so many incredible people. When the race began, I was banded with the colors representing pit crew. I eagerly stood beside my father and Josh, the potent scent of rubber and race fuel permeating the air. Walls of dust were cast to the sky with each turn made, the beating sun blaring down. I fell in love immediately. This was a passion that would later become a driving force in my life. Since that first race, I have found myself in the co-driver position for Rick Heck twice, one of those times actually placing first. As these past years have gone by, I was incorporated into the most amazing family of racers that I could have possibly asked for.
What has been your most exciting achievement in Ultra4 Racing? I have never participated in an Ultra4 race; King of the Hammers will be my first. I’m not sure if this counts, but the most exciting moment in my racing life thus far was finding myself as a co-driver for the very first time. I was a little ball of energy strapped tightly to the seat. I couldn’t hold back my grin beneath my helmet, I was just so excited. It was honestly one of the coolest things I have ever experienced in my life. The feeling of adrenaline coursing through my veins, my senses heightened and my body more aware of every single movement. My heart pounding against my rib cage like a wild animal. The world blurred as we moved to the starting position, the green flag moving towards the ground in slow motion, the roar of the engine drowning out the thoughts in my mind. Everything about that moment was surreal and electrifying.
What does race prep look like in your world? Race prep for the Kracker Fab team consists of many things. Dozens of checklists are made, both mental and physical. Some are made regarding the car (i.e. having fire extinguishers, meeting all of the class requirements, having a functioning car that is in one piece, etc.). Others are about the resources needed before we even get into hammer town, such as finding potable water to fill our trailer with and food that will last for the week to come. Now knowing that I will be a co-driver, my personal prep has changed, because I am fully aware that at some point in the race I will have to clamber out of the car and change a tire. I’ve come to terms with this. So for this years prep I have intensified my exercising, incorporating things I will have to do such as carrying tires and wheels. We always try to pre-run before a race as many times as possible, checking the transmission for leaks and ensuring that our communication and air systems are fully functional. As KOH inches closer the stress begins to pile on, fab days become longer, the budget becomes shorter, and everything becomes chaos. Luckily on our team we have members (such as my mom) that sort out and file paperwork, reach out to local companies to potentially source out sponsors, and look into external pit support such as the Dust Junkies Racing (DJR).
What are you looking forward to at this year's King of the Hammers? Honestly, one of my favorite parts about King of the Hammers is the networking that happens. I love meeting new people and listening to the advice and wisdom that they share. Talking with vendors to gain sponsors, running into people on the lake bed, and helping people out whenever they need it has linked me up with some of the coolest people I have ever met and incorporated me into groups of amazing people that have essentially become another family. I also really enjoy driving around and exploring portions of the desert and getting covered in dirt.
What are your goals for this year's King of the Hammers? My biggest goal is to finish. It is such a privilege to be able to say that I raced in King of the Hammers, and it would be just that much better to say that we made it all the way to the end. We have got to try and keep a solid pace and just maintain the integrity of the car, keep it in one piece for as long as possible. If we don’t finish that’s all right as well, we’re doing something amazing and it is definitely a bucket list for me.
What excites you about racing? I am a total adrenaline junkie. Hardcore. Everything about racing excites me: the engineering and craftsmanship needed to build a monster made of metal, the thrill of camping out at the track, driving the distances to get to a race, living off of Monster Energy and beef jerky. Meeting new people and being surrounded by so many people with the same drive and ambitions as yourself. Walking through the pits and seeing the other teams banding together is inspiring. Hearing the stories of fellow racers and learning that they built their empires in the same way as yourself. The sound of the engines revving excites me, the smell of race fuel and grease. The fast-paced processing that is needed to stay alive. The risk and understanding that every step taken or every mile driven could potentially be your last. The intensity, raw power, and design of it all is intoxicating to me.
What is a piece of advice that you have been given? A piece of advice that I have taken to heart is “Run your own race.” This means focus on you and forget every chaotic mess that is happening outside of your immediate control. Focus on the lap that you are on, the specific turn, or place on the track and don’t let any passing cars or major obstacles get you down. Drive to the best of your abilities and execute flawlessly what you are most confident in doing. Compete with those around you but not enough that it makes you bitter. Focus on yourself and what you can do to run your best race.
Tell us about the Team that Supports you. The team team that makes this dream a reality is called Kracker Fab. Comprised of driver Josh Atteberry, crew chief John Gray, camp/pit support members Paige Gray and Dakota Atteberry, and myself as co-driver. Josh and my dad John have worked tirelessly on “The Kracken”, spending late nights in the shop and throwing all spare money to make this a reality.
Author: Kaisey Gray