By Doug Pace
Champions are being crowned across the region with a trio of female drivers earning dirt track titles.
Nicole Behar (HyDrive Late Models) and Bailey Babin (Bandoleros) excelled at Stateline Speedway, and Colville’s Tiana Berkley made history at Eagle Raceway in Republic.
Berkley’s championship in the Hornet division marks the first time a female driver has won a title in any division at Eagle Raceway. In only her third season of racing, Berkley has built an 86-point lead over her closest pursuer heading into the season finale.
“To win the title as the first female (at Eagle) takes a lot of determination,” said Berkley. “You have to drop every fear and just hope the car is going to do what you want. It also is about having fun with what you’re doing. Racing is full of ups and downs but it takes a lot of confidence. I take everything with a grain of salt and expect good and bad days (at the racetrack).”
The championship comes one season after winning the Hornet title at the now shuttered Northport International Speedway, where she also became the first female to claim a division points chase. “I began racing because I grew up around it, having spent most of my life at the track because my dad (Tony) was a racer,” said Berkley. “I decided in 2011 that I’d like to do it too. My dad tried to talk me out of it and he and my mom (Holly) thought I’d get a little dirty and want to quit.”
In that first year she won a main event in her second race and finished second in the points championship, missing the title by three points, and collecting rookie of the year honors.
Taming the Eagle Raceway dirt surface this season was a challenge Berkley faced each week.
“My (Hornet) car is completely stock,” said Berkley. “I can’t run race tires or anything like that so controlling it sometimes is not easy. When I found out what the car was capable of doing it got a little easier. But when the car wants to come around you gotta put it to the floor and point it where you want it to go. Typically, the car will do what it’s expected to do.”
Berkley will continue to move at a fast pace, including graduating high school a year early and preparing for racing in a dirt modified next season. The Colville High student has added a Facebook page that allows fans to follow her races.
“I created the page originally so my friends and family could follow my results throughout race day,” said Berkley. “The page has continued to grow (in popularity) so in some sense I am using it now to gain more fans, sponsors and followers.”
Saturday: Northwest Modifieds, Northwest Early Stocks, Baby Grands, 6 p.m.
Wednesday: Fever 4’s, Road Runners, Bump to Pass, 6 p.m.
Spokane Kart Racing
Sunday: Adult/Junior karts (sprint course), 10:30 a.m.
Follow all of the region’s racing news at www.spokesman.com/ blogs/keepingpace. To reach Doug Pace, email him at racingnewssource@ gmail.com
Photo by Sweet Light Photography