Sister duo claims IMCA state championships

Sister duo claims IMCA state championships

Sister duo claims IMCA state championships

They are your typical sisters — they push each other’s buttons, they are competitive and will do anything to help each other out.

Now, you can call them Nevada IMCA state champions. Marie Curtis and Kayla Curtis captured IMCA championships in the stock car and sport compact class respectively, for the 2021 season.   

The siblings made history as the first sisters to win IMCA state championships.

Both were rookies in their respective divisions. Marie, 20, is a student at Great Basin College and Kayla is just 18. 

Marie is the first-ever Stock Car State champion crowned in Nevada; Kayla was just the second Sport Compact State champion.

Marie started out her career about  three years ago in pure stocks and hobby stocks before making the move to the IMCA Stock Car division. 

She also spent time driving her Hobby Stock this year. 

“I went to Las Vegas last year for the Duel in the Desert and I saw those cars run,” said Marie. “I went, ‘I want of those cars.’ I wanted something faster but I didn’t want to go to modifieds. That was the choice for me – the full body stock car.”

Marie added that it took some time to get used to the faster cars and a lot more adjustments to the car had to be made.

“It makes it easier to drive — or harder, if you miss the set up it can be a pain in the butt to drive,” she said. “When you miss the set up, you know early in the race you are not going anywhere. You just come back, make the adjustments and get ready for the next race.”

Marie won a Hobby Stock feature in addition to three stock car races and stock car track championships at three Nevada dirt ovals — Battle Mountain Raceway, Summit Raceway (Elko) and Winnemucca Regional Raceway.

Marie noted the first two years of racing were all about having fun. 

“This year I got after it more and got more serious about it when I picked up some new sponsors,” Marie said. “I was able to travel more and get a better feeling for the racing outside of Nevada.”

While more and more women are getting on the track and racing, some still look at it as a man’s sport but Marie said for the most part, she hasn’t gotten much push-back as a woman racer. 

“I haven’t really had any personal issues with guys,” she added. “I have seen other girls have issue with guys. I think most of them like me. They see me get dirty and I work on my own cars. They respect that. Sometimes on the track they don’t know you are female.”  

In her travels, Marie said her favorite racer she has met is Kenny Wallace. Wallace spent a lot of his career in various NASCAR divisions. 

“Kenny is just fun to be around and is a high-energy person,” she said. “He is just as crazy in person as he is on TV.”

Her favorite track outside of the local area is ET Motopark in Mesa, AZ. She added that the high-banked track is fun to haul butt down. 

Locally, she added she still loves Winnemucca Regional Raceway, where she got her start.

After making the jump to the IMCA Stock Car, Marie said she would like the challenge of IMCA Modified at one point in the future but will stay in the Stock Car for now.

Her boyfriend Chaz Baca from Arizona is one of the top IMCA drivers in the nation and was a big part of her getting into the IMCA Stock Car.

“It was just a chance meeting,” Marie said. “Last year when they were not racing in Arizona, he came up to northern Nevada and we met in Battle Mountain. He has been a huge help to me and helps me with set ups more than anyone else. Maybe someday he will let me drive his modified. He will let me but I don’t trust myself to drive his stuff yet.”

Kayla won two features at Winnemucca Regional Raceway and the sport compact track title. 

Kayla tends to stay closer to home, while Marie will travel more. 

Kayla found the urge to race when her sister was in the beginning stages of her career.

“When she was racing with the Fraziers, I just got bored sitting there watching and thought to myself I might take part in this next year,” Kayla said. “My dad actually found me a car and started racing in the Gen-X car. That got me started and I like the small cars and decided to stick with them.”

Kayla’s racing career got off to quite the start, as the first time on the track she rolled the car. Kayla shook it off and got right back at it.

“We have done a lot of crazy sports, so we are adrenaline junkies,” Marie said. “It was nothing.”  

Kayla noted she didn’t know she was in contention for a state championship until she got to the final race of the year. 

All she had to do was start the race, no matter her finishing position. Back-to-back victories at Winnemucca in late July and early August sparked a charge to the track championship as well.

Even though they are in different classes, that doesn’t mean they take it easy on each other at the track.

“We still like to poke fun at each other when we can,” Marie said. “We aren’t in the same class, because she won’t step up a class (Marie saying in, her playful big sister voice). “I wish she would step up but she likes racing the little cars. I get so bored when I get in her car. She loves it though and that makes me happy to see that. I want her to race the Camaro and she might do that once next year. She only drove it once and it didn’t have brakes.”

Kayla said she likes the laid-back approach of her racing class and she doesn’t take it as serious as her sister. 

Kayla usually drives with younger drivers just learning the sport and noted that she has picked up a good relationship with Josie Kennedy from Battle Mountain. 

Her main competition throughout the year was Thomas Chaves. 

Kayla added that people see that rivalry with Thomas on the track but actually they get along well.

The two sisters continue to share that light-hearted sibling rivalry and Kayla shared one of the reason she got into the sport.

“Racing gives me something to do instead of watching Marie work on her stuff or running to get her tools,” Kayla said. “It gives me an excuse not to help her.”  

Kayla is planning a career in diesel mechanics and will be back in the Sport Compact division at Winnemucca next season.

“You can do anything you put your mind to,” Kayla said. “If you want to do it, don’t let the fear of a low population of girls in the sport stop you.”