Racing has taken Sergio Peña locations even he wouldn’t have anticipated.
After driving within the NASCAR Professional Collection on and off for about 5 years, when that was over he nonetheless needed to discover a technique to make driving a profession.
Now, Peña’s day job consist partially of working as a safety tactical driving teacher, coaching officers within the authorities, army, and “any 3-letter company,” he stated, on defense-level tactical driving earlier than they deploy abroad or go to embassies world wide.
When he’s not in a police automotive or armored car, Peña works as a efficiency driver, going to System 1 races within the U.S., Mexico, and Canada and doing sizzling laps for Aston Martin. He additionally works as a stunt driver, and not too long ago did a shoot for the most recent Quick & Livid film.
Whereas he is probably not in racing full-time, Peña remains to be at a race monitor virtually day by day of the week.
“It’s been loopy,” Peña stated of his new profession. “Racing is all I’ve identified my complete life, from go-karts beginning at 6 years outdated and shifting up the ranks.”
Peña beginning racing within the Ok&N Professional Collection, now often known as the ARCA Menards Collection, in 2010 with Rev Racing and the NASCAR Drive for Range Driver Improvement Program. He stayed with Rev on and off for 3 years, shifting between the East and West Collection.
He returned to the East Collection in 2015, and acquired again right into a late mannequin with proprietor Sam Beaty.
“I by no means actually thought NASCAR can be an possibility and getting the chance with D4D, and when all that was stated and achieved, I didn’t fairly end faculty but, I sort of went backwards and forwards between 100 various things,” he stated. “And also you hear the tales 100 completely different instances about drivers who didn’t fairly make it to the highest stage, what occurs subsequent?
“I’ve been so lucky to proceed to make use of driving to pay my payments and keep lively at race tracks Monday via Friday actually. I’m at a race monitor virtually day by day of the week. Perhaps not in a race automotive however in a police automotive or some kind of armored car. Regardless, it’s a good time.”
Peña nonetheless finds time to get into an precise race automotive on the weekends, with a brand new alternative this 12 months. He’s pushed full-time at Dominion Raceway, a NASCAR-sanctioned .4-mile asphalt oval monitor in Thornburg, Virginia, the final two years, and plans to return when the monitor opens the season this weekend.
He’ll drive for proprietor Travis Byrd, who may also function his crew chief, in a model new automotive constructed by chassis builder Forrest Reynolds. The staff is sponsored by Peak Roofing Contractors, who Peña stated “with out them this wouldn’t be potential.”
Peña stated the staff will attempt to run for a monitor championship at Dominion, whereas additionally going for a NASCAR Advance Auto Elements Weekly Collection Virginia state championship and, hopefully, a nationwide title.
“Primarly, only a new staff, a recent begin,” Peña stated. “It’s a model new automotive with top-of-the-line chassis builders round in late fashions… So far as this 12 months goes, all people goes for it one hundred pc.”
Beaty may also be concerned. Peña and Beaty have been working collectively since Peña was in highschool a decade in the past, earlier than he started with Rev Racing. Earlier than starting with the Drive For Range program, Peña didn’t have any oval or quick monitor expertise, having grown up with a street course background. Beaty was the one who helped him get accustomed to a very completely different fashion of driving.
This 12 months can be Beaty’s final in racing, so not solely is Peña attempting to win a championship for his new staff, he’d additionally wish to ship his 78-year-old mentor out with a bang. He stated this 12 months, “It’s all for Sam.”
“That’s the purpose. Clearly you consider attempting to do one of the best for your self and everybody, however particularly for Sam,” he stated. “With work and all, I’m not in a position to at all times be there to assist with the automotive and I journey with work rather a lot. And this man, simply by himself as an higher 70-year-old man, single-handedly builds these automobiles, places them collectively, and retains me lively in racing, the final 5 or 6 years particularly.
“I owe the world to him. There’s no means I may really repay him for the issues he’s achieved for me all through my profession. And the truth that he nonetheless needs to be part of it and retains pushing, it’s unbelievable.”
Making an attempt to make his means in racing the previous few years hasn’t been straightforward for Peña. He stated he was operating outdated gear, not testing or practising, principally simply exhibiting up and racing. Whereas he stated it was enjoyable and he appreciated getting to remain concerned within the sport, he looks like he lastly has all of the items in place for one thing completely different this 12 months.
Largely, he’s simply grateful to get the possibility to spend extra time in a automotive with individuals who have meant a lot to him all through his profession.
“I believe as a racer, no less than for me, I don’t image life with out racing. And there’s by no means going to be a day I ever hand over on it,” he stated. “It goes past simply racing. It’s household, it’s pals, the relationships you construct all through all of this. It turns into your life. I simply couldn’t think about life with out it, actually.
“I’m 28 years outdated now, and never racing full time. I’m not getting paid to race or something, however I’m nonetheless in a position to have my title on the door of a race automotive and race on Saturday nights. It’s simply unbelievable for therefore many causes.”
Dominion Raceway will open the season on Saturday with late fashions, modifieds, Virginia Racers, Dominion Inventory, UCars, Dominion Any Automotive, and Mini Cups.