Growing up around the race tracks since she was toddler watching family race, it’s easy to see why Kayla Semple has racing in her blood. It started with trips to the drag track to watch her father race a snowmobile. Then treks to Sunset Speedway were added to watch her uncle Ryan Semple race super stocks. On both occasions, she asked if she could race one of those vehicles herself, and was told no.
Then came to the track to Sunset Speedway in 2020 to once again watch Ryan, but also her uncle Rob Harrison race in the Outlaw Midgets.
“We noticed that it was hopping like crazy and shooting sparks out of it so my dad bought a pit pass walk down and tried to fix it,” she recalled. “Turns out it fixed it and then we got involved in his racing season and decided to fix his car between races. I asked if I could race one of these and my mom said no of course; she wasn’t very fond of the idea of me racing. My dad, however, had secretly gone out and bought one. We stripped it to the chassis. We spent the entire summer to one in the morning each night trying to get the car to work. That’s how I began my first-ever season with the outlaw midget club.”
Following a year with seven top-10 finishes, Semple is ready to get back behind the wheel once again in 2023.
“I’m super excited for this season from the time that snowmobile season ended I was ecstatic,” she commented. “We built three cars as spares as well as mine, slowly building them and designing them every night really makes you think about the cars and think about driving them which amps me up. I have high hopes for next season I believe I was a decent driver since not having any experience up until when I crashed, which definitely knocked my confidence down and showed in my driving. I feel that I have gained some of that confidence back and will be driving much better.”
Semple enters the year also with the lessons last season, that included learning how to drive the car, fix it, and deal with people that she is not a big fan of.
“I think the biggest thing I learned and came up with the theory of was ‘just give er’ if I wreck the car, which I managed to do every single race in some sort of way, we’ll get it fixed,” she explained. “We have the car ready to go and I can go and get another shot. For example, when it hit the wall in Sunset and shortened the car by 18 inches we still had it ready for the next race weekend. I feel that confidence is definitely the biggest thing in racing, at least in these classes. Having confidence in my dad and the group to fix the car or make it drivable for the night is a big part of that.
“If you are scared of recking the car every night then you aren’t going to send it to your full potential. If you don’t, then it’s not really racing. Its more like just going for a Sunday drive, which won’t get you a win.”
She is also keeping her goals simple – aiming to beat both her father and uncle Rob each week. That said, she knows it’s a tall hill to climb with Harrison tying Kviring for third in points last year.
“My biggest goal is definitely to beat my dad,” she continued. “He seems to think that driving one of these cars is simple but it’s not as easy as it looks, it’s rough, uncomfortable and scary at times. I’m just excited to see where he finishes and how well he does. I also got seventh in points last season, and I’m hoping to get top-five or at least battle the midfield rather then chilling at the back.”
As she chases her goal, she knows there’s a lot she can do to improve as a driver moving forward, whether that’s by talking to other people, or having practice on the track.
“I think one of the main things I have to improve would be the corners,” she revealed. “I’m great on the straights. My car is fast but when it comes to the corners that’s where they catch me.”
Beyond the new experience of racing against her dad, she also is excited about trying a new track with the series traveling to Full Throttle Motor Speedway (Varney). Semple hasn’t raced there or watch many races there so it’s completely new, but yet still filled with excitement in “hearing it’s a fun track.”
Continuing the racing journey surrounded by family, she admits that having a bunch of family involved in motorsports hasn’t benefited as much as people would think with how different the cars drive compared to each other.
“My uncle races super stocks with have suspension and they’re closed wheels, so they drive completely differently, although some tips are rather helpful,” she commented. “I have other family who would do demolition which is not related to allow racing in the slightest because their goal is to smash each other but since we’re an Open Wheel class you can’t touch. I think the only person who actually gives me advice that is helpful to me would be Uncle Robbie because he is in this class and he understands how they work. Along with my Dad because he raced skidoo snowmobiles down the drag track which gave him some experience on how to tune the motors although with some difficulty with the Polaris clutching.”
She went onto add some of the biggest support has come from her competitors, with several of them offering tips on how to improve.
“The only issue with this was that I got so much advice that some of it contradicted other people’s so I would have to fine-tune their advice to my driving style,” she revealed. “Larry Lawson I feel was the most helpful of the bunch. Every practice I would want to follow his line, see where he lifted and got back on it. To me it was as though I was watching the best and I wanted advice from him. I have nothing but respect for the guy as he was very helpful to my rookie season.”
For their support this season, Semple would like to thank her sponsors Blade Cutters, Finish Line Spray Foam, Georgian Waste, First Church Street Bar and Grill, Interact Drywall, JDS Contracting, R Semple Solutions, Mabcon Drywall, BW Towing, and MCI Automation.
Categories: Interviews, Outlaw Midgets
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