The American racing legend Chip Ganassi owns teams in IndyCar, NASCAR, and various sportscar series. When joining forces with Alejandro Agag in the ground-breaking racing series of Extreme E, Chip brought on one of the most successful female drivers in the US – Sara Price. The team’s journey in Extreme E has been bumpy like the rock garden in Arctic X Prix. In Island X Prix, the team finally made it into the Final. However, things didn’t go their way in the Final. Before Island X Prix, we caught up with Sara Price on their long layover in Switzerland. Let’s see what she has to say about her career and her experience with Extreme E.
All photos © Extreme E
Sara Price says her parents would call her the daredevil from the womb and an energizer bunny. Growing up in California, USA, when her parents were busy taking her brother to race dirt bikes, she herself found her own passion on the dirt bike. “I always had so much energy and I needed to do something with it. My brother raced dirt bikes, and my parents bought me my first dirt bike on Christmas to keep me occupied when they take my brother to the track. Little did they know that I would just keep going with it and develop a love for riding a dirt bike. It’s just in my blood to be a daredevil. I loved bikes.”
The love for bikes turned her childhood into a pursuit of a professional motorcross career. At the age of 16, Sara realized that dream. Then in 2010, she became the first female factory-supported motocross rider. She won 17 national motocross championships and medaled in the X Games. “My whole life as a child was to be a professional motorcross racer. When I turned 16, I turned professional. It was at the point where women’s motorcross was growing. We were getting into X Games and getting all the support. It looked really promising in off-road and motorsports.”
But perhaps no good things last forever, Sara’s career as a motorcross rider has the high of becoming a Kawasaki factory rider, but also went downhill when supports for women’s motorcross event withered. But the love for speed pointed her in a new direction. “It was really difficult when X Games took out the females event. It was hard to make it for sponsorship. We’re risking our lives with this and train every single day. We can’t have a normal job to make money. We had to think of something else. So I started a business and started driving four wheels. I absolutely loved it. I got to satisfy my need for racing and my passion for it. I also became a stunt woman on top of that. It’s great that it all worked out in the end.”
On four wheels, Sara has raced almost everything in off-road. Then in June 2020, a new chapter started in Sara’s racing career, she was announced to be Chip Ganassi Racing’s female driver in Extreme E, the first-ever driver to be announced in the entire Extreme E line-up. “When I was being approached about this Extreme E seat with Chip Ganassi, I looked into it. It was a really cool thing – it was something new being brought to motorsports and it’s racing for a cause. Having a team like Chip Ganassi Racing, a legendary team, calling me was an honor. It was an honor to even be considered to be a part of their team. When I talked to Ganassi, I knew it was gonna be my home. They’re very serious about what they do, and they very much want to go out there and do well. Chip’s an awesome guy, and the team is great. Everything kind of fell into place.”
It’s been a crazy journey, but it’s definitely molded me into where I’m at today. It’s kind of crazy to look back and also look forward and see where I’m at – driving for a team like Chip Ganassi.
Arriving at the legendary team, getting to know the team, and especially the teammate is crucial before the start of the season. “For the first round, the biggest thing was to get together as a team and get to know each other. Getting to know the vehicle as much as we can is also key, because we won’t have much seat time in it. I still race in the US in off-road racing. Preparing for that has also been preparation for Extreme E. It was also about staying physically fit, staying sharp on your driving, and just being ready. The teammate format is definitely different for me. I’m used to racing where I’m the only driver most of the time. For Extreme E, you’re putting your trust in the other driver, and they have to be your other half. Teamwork is key to this. It’s a learning curve, I think, for both of us, but it’s been awesome.”
We have the same vibe. We know how to relate. We know how to talk because we come from the same background. So it’s worked out pretty well.
No one has raced Extreme E before, but having raced almost everything else, Sara’s ability to adapt gave her the edge to put herself and her team on top of the timesheet. “My roots come from motorcross. In motorcross we trained every single day in and out learning line selection, breaking points, etc. When I went to four wheels where I started racing off-road, I kind of brought everything I learned from motorcross over to that. Then I just kept learning and kept growing. I’ve raced a lot of different varieties of vehicles on all sorts of different terrains. So I think the fact that I’m well-rounded and able to adapt fast is very much a big strength of mine. I’m always thrown in situations where I’m having to make the best out of it and use everything I’ve taught myself over the years. Extreme E is a whole new format, something completely new for motorsports in general and for us. So my adaptability is probably my biggest strength.”
However, having shown their ability to go fast hasn’t brought the team concrete results in the past four rounds. The team has been unlucky and encountered various problems during each X Prix. “Unfortunately, we haven’t had the best results this year. It’s crazy because we are at the top of the charts many times. It’s just really bad luck, to say the least. We want to just go out there, do the best we possibly can, and honestly just finish with a consistently good result. We want to make it to the Final and have a chance at this, because we haven’t had a clean race yet. We just want a clean race.”
Even though she’s raced in almost everything in off-road, there is still something Sara has her eyes on she’s working towards – Dakar Rally. Having the first American Dakar winner Ricky Brabec as her boyfriend, having raced against so many Dakar legends this year, Sara is working on her own Dakar campaign right now. “I really want to make it to the Dakar Rally. I’m working on it. There are no official plans yet, but I’ve been training at it, and I’ve been doing other events that prepare me for it. So I’m just waiting for the opportunity to arise and get a possibility of it all.”
For me, it’s part of me. I need it always and I always will have it. I’ll be that 80-year-old woman racing something. What you get out of racing is the adrenaline or the need for the adrenaline. The challenge is trying to be better and trying to do better, go faster, whatever the case is.
North America is a large continent with fascinating landscapes, so what would Sara recommend for an Extreme E X Prix in North America? “Baja, Mexico. I think it would be so awesome and they would love it.”
As always, let’s end the story with Sara’s three words for why people should follow Extreme E. “Exciting. Unique. Crazy.” Later this month, we will have the exciting, unique, and crazy finale in Dorset, UK. Let’s hope the Chip Ganassi Racing team can end the season on a high there.