A great season for Sarah Cornett-Ching in the Automobile Racing Club of America series was highlighted by her finishing as the highest rookie female in its 62-year history.
“It’s kind of unbelievable really. We just kind of did our own thing all year,” said Cornett-Ching. “We had lots of good finishes. Nothing that really was spectacular. We were learning all year. Consistency just really paid off in the end.”
The Summerland driver finished seventh in the standings with 4,085 points from five top-10 finishes. There was some disappointment for the 24 year old in finishing there. A crash in the second-last race relegated her to that spot.
What surprised her about competing in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards were the differences compared to home. One thing is the money that is spent. She described it as the racing they do at home “on steroids.”
“It is so much more competitive. There is so much more money,” she said. “People are constantly trying to find an edge. Trying to find more money. Trying to be better. The amount of sheer work, there is so much you can do. I would say that was pretty surprising to me.”
Cornett-Ching went from being so nervous her first time at the track to a confident driver that was better prepared for each race. It was a big learning curve.
“That nervousness was gone. Feel at the track is a huge change as well as being able to drive on these faster tracks,” she said.
She also earned the respect of most drivers and said there were only a few that didn’t reciprocate.
“You could race door to door. There is always a few that are jealous or they don’t like to be beat by a girl,” she laughed.
The success she worked towards with her crew made her a fan favourite.
“We definitely had a huge fan base this year, which was incredible,” she said.
At every track fans would come across the fence to meet her and get her autograph. Cornett-Ching had the longest lines.
“Sometimes the officials would say, ‘OK Sarah, wrap it up. We got to get to driver introductions,’” she said. “It was overwhelming really and unreal.
“The funniest question I always get is are you Chinese?” she chuckled. “’Why is your last name Ching. Most of the time when people ask where I’m from, if I say British Columbia, they don’t really grasp where it’s at.”
She has support locally including from people who have heard about her. It’s the same in the U.S. They believe in her and want to see her succeed. What she has felt and experienced is incredible. The support also floods in on Facebook and her Twitter account, which she said is important to their brand. She thanked all her supporters back home, Race 101 and Tony Blanchard, who she races for.
Next season Cornett-Ching will primarily compete in NASCAR’s K&N East Pro Series with a few races in ARCA. During the off-season the team will be working to keep her sharp. She is excited for a new season and enters with confidence.
“I feel ready to have a lot more success. Just working with NASCAR,” she said. “Last year ARCA was a pretty good stepping stone.”
To stay updated on Cornett-Ching, follow her at www.facebook.com/sccracing or on Twitter at @scornettching.