SUMMERLAND - A Summerland woman is getting ready for the ride of her life as she prepares for an Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) race at Daytona.
Sarah Cornett-Ching has been driving for half her life — and she’s only 24. She began her racing career at Penticton Speedway, where she first got behind the wheel of a race car at age 12.
Cornett-Ching will be participating in this year’s ARCA 200 on Feb.14 at Daytona International Speedway in Florida.
In 2011, Cornett-Ching was accepted into a scholarship program for young racers in North Carolina called Race 101. The same team she learned with at Race 101 fielded a car for Daytona in 2013. She went back to the States to test with the group, returning again in December of 2014. The team’s car finished 12 out of 40 and Cornett-Ching was asked to return to drive the car at this year’s Daytona 200.
“It’s been kind of a whirlwind,” she says. “Race 101 has most of the team lined up, they own most of the cars. I’m coming in to drive for them."
It’s not cheap to race in the ARCA 200 and Cornett-Ching has been kept busy raising money for expenses.
“I’m a welder by trade, and for the last two years I’ve been working in Saskatchewan and Northern B.C. I’ve been saving all my money, pretty much, for this race this year. I was up in Dawson Creek, just until last Sunday actually,” she says. She is now fully focused on the upcoming race.
Cornett-Ching’s interest in racing is a life long affair. Her father Joe is an ardent racing fan and Cornett-Ching remembers going to the track and shop to work on cars with him from an early age.
“I first got interested when I was 10,” she recalls. She received her first race car for her 12th birthday.
“It’s definitely been a lot of fun. I’ve done a lot of racing and it’s getting even more exciting making some big steps forward,” she says. After years of local and provincial racing, she sees this as an opportunity to break into the big leagues.
The Arca 200 will be televised on Fox Sports One.
Cornett- Ching will be in Daytona from February 7 to 24 in order to stay for the Daytona 500 as well.
“What we’re trying to do is get enough publicity for me to draw a sponsor, a company that sees potential in my driving that will put marketing on my race car and make me a public figure for the company,” she explains.
“Hopefully, I won’t have to go back to the cold north and weld again,” she laughs. “We’ll see how it shakes out.”
Cornett-Ching continues to fundraise for her big race. She has a gofundme page and a Facebook page. A fundraising effort at Tugs Taphouse, 260 Martin Street in Penticton is slated for Thursday, Feb. 5 at 6 p.m.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at email@example.com or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-2724.
— This story was updated at 1:02 p.m., Friday, Jan. 30, 2015 to correct the name of the car race.