Behind The Wheel - #8 - Kaylee Martinez
Some people are lucky enough to grow up in an environment surrounded by cars and racing, and before they even know it, the automotive industry is what they are involved in for the rest of their lives. But for others, they want to be involved and have to find their own way to learn about cars, to work on cars, and even to race their own cars. Kaylee Martinez is the spitting image of knowing what you want and going for it, at full speed. Kaylee has always loved cars and found her way to become involved in the automotive industry through racing. Kaylee spends her weekdays working in payroll for the state of Oklahoma, and her weekends in the garage or on the track with her car.
Kaylee’s involvement in the automotive industry began with her growing up and knowing she loved cars, but she didn’t know much about them, “I didn’t have anyone to teach me growing up. I saw nice shiny things when you popped the hood, they always looked nice, but I didn’t know anything about cars then”, she says. Kaylee started racing in 2017 with her daily driven 2014 Charger R/T and now you will find her behind the wheel of her dream car, a 2000 Z28 Camaro. One of her goals was always to learn more about engines, “I got to tear down my car and got help with it, that’s when I learned about the engine and all”.
At the track, you’ll find Kaylee out there racing with her number one supporter, her boyfriend, “He’s there for me every step of the way. From suspension tweaks, to helping me rebuild whatever, he’s doing everything besides driving the car for me”. Kaylee didn’t have any major role models until recently when she met Tiana Weber from Fastest Car. “She lives in Texas and is really down to earth. I get along with her and she reminds me of myself, if I have questions, she’s always there to help me, and has been a mentor to me”, Kaylee says.
Kaylee has found her way at multiple drag racing events from every local SCT since 2017 with her Dodge Charger, H-Town Throwdown, and even events in Dallas, Texas. Let’s not forget, competing in the Women & Wheels class this past May in her Z28 Camaro, and placing 2nd. Her favorite memory from the event was making it to the finals, “Being able to say I made it to the finals and won 2nd place. That was the first event I won 2nd in. Most of the time the cars are faster or I red lit, but it finally felt like racing was starting to pay off”. Kaylee’s Camaro currently has nitrous, a rebuilt stock transmission, and rebuilt stock rear end. Future goals for the car include putting a stronger rear end in, going turbo, and possibly getting a different transmission to replace the 4L60. She wants to see her car in single digits eventually, but ultimately her goal is to work on her 1/8 times and 60’ times. Kaylee is currently pregnant and is hoping that this free time from racing helps aid in the rebuilding of her car.
To end the interview, I asked Kaylee what she thinks Women & Wheels brings to ladies in the industry, “I think it’s helped bring awareness there are a lot of women in the sport. It shows you don’t have to have a fast car, or a racecar to compete. You can jump in your daily and run it! Just like Tiffany, she beat me in a big SUV and I have a racecar!”, she says. Kaylee has plenty of seat time and would give the advice to other women, “Just jump into it. That’s what I did, and I didn’t know what I was doing the first time I raced. I watched a couple of cars run, watched how they staged and just jumped into it! I still learn things to this day”. Kaylee brings experience to the Women & Wheels class and goes to show that you don’t have to grow up in this industry to find your place.
You can find Kaylee on IG @cherry_bomb_z28.