A Stadium Super Truck sponsored by BitTorrent, the first female driver in the series; we bring you an exclusive trackside interview from Honda Indy Toronto.
During the Honda Indy Toronto this past weekend, the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks Presented by TRAXXAS series was once again a fan favourite. Better known as SST (Stadium Super Trucks), the series ran two races on the Streets of Toronto road course - one on Saturday and one on Sunday. We were particularly interested in a new entry for these races - a truck sponsored by BitTorrent, a company best known for peer-to-peer online file sharing.
We caught up with the BitTorrent SST’s female racer on Saturday before her first race.
Kanishka Sonnadara: Let’s start with name, who you drive for, and where you’re from.
Sara: Sara Price, 23 years old, I am the first female [driver] in a Stadium Super Truck at Honda Toronto Indy in the BitTorrent sponsored truck. I’m from Southern California, a place called Canyon Lake.
KS: First SST race?
SP: Yes, this is my very first SST race.
KS: Have you driven SST or trucks similar to this before?
SP: I come from a background of professional motorcross, off-road racing and a little bit of street. But I’ve only had one chance to test a SST before this weekend; so yesterday was my second time in a truck and today will be my third time in a truck.
KS: How do your past racing experiences relate to what you’re doing now?
SP: [I’ve done] many disciplines of racing over the years from two-wheeled to four wheel, I’ve done street, rock crawling, rally, short course, desert, so I have a lot of experience in the dirt and with off-road vehicles. This is a little bit different, but it’s really cool because it adds in the street to off-road trucks so it’s really exciting and it’s right up my alley. I think I’ve got a good foundation to keep building off of.
KS: How old were you when you had your first off-road experience?
SP: I was on a motorcycle when I was eight years old.
KS: Not really early, but still a lot of experience for someone who’s only 23.
SP: Yea, eight years old is pretty young for motocross, but it is kind of a late start, you’re supposed to start at five, but it’s kinda crazy when you think of it that way!
KS: What’s the experience working with Robby Gordon and the folks at SST been like for you?
SP: It’s incredible. Honestly Robby Gordon his name is a household name in the off-road community and you can’t ask for a better mentor in that aspect. The whole SST team, Chris (Chris Hecht, Robby’s second in command), they all go over and beyond and they’ve welcomed me with open arms and I couldn’t ask for anymore than that. It’s been great and SSTs are incredible, they’re not an easy truck to drive and so it’s been a good fun time just getting into it and getting used to it. I feel like I’ve done pretty well and I’m excited to see what happens.
KS: Best piece of advice you’ve gotten so far being in an SST?
SP: Stay calm and keep it together. Because in practice yesterday a lot of guys went out there and crashed their cars and that’s going to lead into them being a little bit intimidated going into the race today, their car might not be [a hundred percent].
KS: Spoken like a veteran racer.
KS: I did a SST ridealong three years ago when the series first came to Honda Indy Toronto and I found it an incredibly violent experience inside the truck. What’s your experience been like?
SP: It’s violent, in a way… but honestly I’m used to that kind of thing. It’s actually pretty smooth because the trucks are so dialed in. Robby spends a lot of time, he engineers them himself, he is a mastermind when it comes to that, he’s built an incredible machine. It’s really not as bad as you’d think but there is a lot of contact in the race so that’s going to be something that is definitely more violent.
KS: Let’s talk about the sponsors of your truck, BitTorrent. How did that happen?
SP: It’s really funny actually, I raced a short course series and I was selling my race car and the owner that just bought BitTorrent had messaged me through Craigslist and wanted to buy my car. I said I have one more race you can come to the race and right when I get off the track you can take the car. So he came out and watched me, I was the only girl in my class, and I won. He bought my car [after the race]. He said he [also] wanted to sponsor me, I said “don’t worry about it, buy my car”. He said “I own this company called BitTorrent and we really are motivated to sponsor you after seeing you on the track”. It was a really cool start to a great business relationship and I am very pleased to know that BitTorrent made this opportunity happen for me. It’s a dream come true to be in SST. They (BitTorrent) have some big things coming out in the [next few months to a year].
KS: Anything you can talk about?
SP: Kind of. It’s called BitTorrent Bundle. It’s video streaming, with [the company] going more into that not file downloads.
KS: What’s next for you in SST?
SP: As of right now, [this past weekend] is the only one I have funded. If it everything works out, all I can hope for is to get it funded all of next year and it’s going to be my [full-time focus].
KS: So full-time SST is a goal for next year?
SP: Definitely want to be full-time in SST.
KS: (to Chris Hecht) Will she have a truck next year?
CH: We’ll try our best to make it happen.
SP: It’s up to me. I have to get the money for it.
KS: Sara, what sponsorship responsibilities/obligations do you have to BitTorrent?
SP: BitTorrent’s been really awesome. It’s more a friend/fun business relationship. I go over and beyond as much as I can for any person that supports me and sponsors me. More than anything I’m [offering to do this and the other] and they’re like “whoa, that’s cool”. They’re out here doing some original content as well, there’s going to be some cool videos that come out of the SST build up of my journey.
In a brief statement released later, BitTorrent explained that it's working on a platform where athletes can share their stories. Sara Price is one of the first athletes the company has worked with on its new action sports endeavor.
SSTs can reach speeds of over 225 kilometres per hour (140 miles per hour) and launch themselves off of ramps on the track over six metres (20 feet) in the air while covering distances over 45 metres (150 feet). The identically prepared 650 horsepower trucks leave only the drivers and minor tuning changes as variables.
Price finished her first SST race in 8th position and her second race in 9th. The series will be heading to California next, along with later stops in Australia and New Zealand.
Photos: Kanishka Sonnadara, Scott Strupe for Stadium Super Trucks, Motorsport.com, and BitTorrent Inc.