The True Grit of Kim Estep: Rough starts don’t slow this driver down By Jes Zurell

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Kim’s leadership style on track

When it comes to taking care of business, Kim Estep has her own perspective on how being a driver is like running her company.

“Paperwork, finding a good team, being a boss and having great trust. Being in charge of a car or in charge at work is hard. You have to make tough decisions. Getting to the track is very much like my day job, but being on the track also means I don’t have to think about work because on the track you can only think of one thing at a time.”

When she joined the BMW club and started doing track events at Lime Rock in 2003, she felt such a racing high that she knew racing was her drug. The adrenaline when she got off the track made it impossible to calm down. On her first day on the track, she fell in love.

“I had to do it again, and again, and again,” she said. “[My husband and I] moved up in the BMW club and gone up to Mini Coopers and M3’s. We were kicking tail in the BMW club and wanted more track time and less traffic, so we joined the Lime Rock Club for that reason.”

The reason why Estep owned her first Porsche, however, is a less typical story – it was because she crashed it.

At the time, Estep had a Mini and an M3, but the Mini just wasn’t quick enough anymore. Then Estep asked another club member if she could sit in his Porsche. Being a “tall chick,” she wanted to know if she could fit comfortably in the Porsche.

The owner went on to add, ‘Kim, you’re not really going to know if you can handle it unless you drive it and learn how it feels. Take it for a spin!’” Estep said.

So she took it for a spin, literally, and wrecked the car on the second lap. She had been coming up the big hill and got a little bit of over-steer, and when the rear came around Estep reacted like she would have in the M3, whipping the car. She hit the left wall at about 100 miles per hour.

All Estep can remember is that as she was spinning around, watching the dust come through the window, even during the walk of shame back from Emergency Medical Services, she knew she was about to write a really big check.

The car was still in good enough shape to be salvaged, and with a little extra TLC, Estep was able to keep it. Even so, she got a Miata because she was really afraid to drive it.

“I’m a pretty aggressive driver, but I was really being a wuss in the GT3 because I knew what it felt like to spin it around,” she said. “Learning again in the Spec Miata was a huge help, because you don’t have the power to get yourself out of certain trouble, but you don’t have the power to get yourself into trouble, either.”

Since 2003, Estep says she has learned to be patient, keep her foot in it and hit just the right spots in order to keep her car balanced. This year she’s planning to hit the track for her first official race.

Kim and gearhead girl friend, Darren Berger, showing how to keep your foot in it!

Well poised. Kim and her mighty Miata

Since this interview . . . Kim took to the tarmac at Watkins Glen on June 2, 2012 in her Cayman Interseries for her very first race. Below is Kim’s update . . .

in her own words!

“Whoo hoo! So we are back home–no enduro because we had to relieve my mom, the babysitter. But first sprint race ended under red flag conditions after a bad spin crash in between turns 8 and 9. We still don’t know the correct results of that race. But in a field of 62 (?) cars, my best time of 2:09.02 put me 19th on the grid for the second sprint. I held the 19th spot for the first part of the race, and then after a standing yellow for 2 laps, my crew (Peter Argetsinger) let me know that we were green and I got a jump on 2 H-class cars and finished the race 17th and 7th of 13 in my class, GTB1. The three cars on the podium were ITC prepped Cayman S cars like mine, but with 20 more hp than me and were driven by paid pros. My best lap in race 2 was 2:09.52.

Overall, a fantastic day and not a bad start for a rookie who’d never driven the track before!!”

Following Kim’s PCA debut at Watikins Glen: Kim’s debut SCCA race at our home track of Lime Rock Park, June 8 – 9, 2012. Check our forum for more updates on Kim’s race as well as the rest of our gearhead girls! Just click here!

And remember . . . . “in life, sometimes you’re the bug…and sometimes you’re the windshield :)” – Kim Estep, gearhead girl extraordinare!


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