Kristin Bumbera
Written by Doug Johnson   

When Personal Beliefs Get in the Way of the Chance of a Lifetime

TeamPrayingvCapEeryone has dreams.  For a short time my dream was to drive a big rig on the open road. That dream soon ended once I realized that it was a real job and that I wouldn’t be transporting Coors and elephants on a wager with a sweet black Trans Am as an escort. Whether your dream was to be a fireman, a doctor or to find Mr./Ms. Right and have a white picket fence, we all thought we knew how life would turn out when we grew up.  For one down home Texas girl with bright blond hair, super model height and an athletic ability that rivaled most college softball players, the world was her oyster.

KristinBumberaKristin Bumbera’s dreams didn’t include modeling or softball,  but to one day be a driver in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. Kristin started her racing career at eight–years–old racing karts just like many of today’s biggest names in racing. “I remember my  dad  built  Erica  and  Courtney  Enders first  Jr.  Dragsters here in our shop,” said Kristin.  “I went to the race track and saw them race.  I  was  sitting  in  the  stands  thinking ‘This is pretty cool’ and my dad said ‘You don’t want to do this (Jr. dragsters), this is no fun,  you  might  as well go oval track racing.   You can go much faster at an oval track.’  As soon as he said ‘faster,’
I was all in.”

Kristin raced karts for three years before stepping up to the “Super Mini Cup” series. Super Mini cars are half-scale NASCAR style cars. She raced in this series until she was thirteen, winning every race she entered except one.

Kristin also won rookie of the year honors and multiple championships. At fourteen, she took a year off driving and worked for her dad’s race team. “My dad was racing all over the country,” said Kristin, “so I traveled with him and I learned the behind the scenes of a race team.The crew and the communications aspect is something I had not had to deal with, as well as sponsorship and the business side of things.”

At 15, Kristin grew tired of spectating and wanted back in the driver’s seat. She talked her dad into testing one of his back up cars, a super late model. Her local track insisted that she prove herself before letting her drive in an actual race. Once the “powers that be” felt comfortable, Kristin was out there racing with adults and young men over sixteen (the normal entry age). Although it took a couple of years before she won a feature race, Kristin won rookie of the year honors again. Since moving up into the full-sized cars, Kristin has earned 16 wins, 52 top 5’s, and 94 top 10 finishes.

In 2008, a twenty-year-old Kristin received the opportunity to drive for Golden State Racing after getting accepted by NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Program. The Drive for Diversity Program was set up to help female and ethnic drivers who want to move into professional racing. After being asked to attend her second Drive for Diversity combine (test session), and a seventh place finish in her division with Golden State Racing, Kristin got what she thought was “the opportunity of a lifetime.”  She was getting called up to the “triple A’s” of NASCAR with Bobby Hamilton Jr Racing, with a chance to drive the entire season in the Camping World East. With a good showing, it would be only a matter of time before her dream of driving in the Nationwide and then the Cup series would be coming true. At least that is what she thought.

With financial help from the Drive for Diversity Program and from her family, Kristin went to Bobby Hamilton Racing. During the first test session things didn’t seem as promised. The equipment was not what she was used to working with, and qualifying last and finishing 20th was not at all what she was used to. “I didn’t know if I should back out of the deal or stick it out and get the experience,” Kristin said, “so I talked about it with my parents and I prayed about it, of course.”

Wide Open Energy Drink and Coyote Ugly sponsored Kristen’s car.  Before the season started, Kristin was asked to do a photo shoot for her signature cards. She had been promised  that she would only have to pose in her driving suit.  When the time came for the photo shoot, Kristin was instructed to bring revealing clothing and not her driver’s suit.  Kristin has always made it clear that she is a driver and that she wants to be treated equally.  “Sponsors don’t ask the men drivers to pose with their shirts off,” says Kristin.  This was a defining moment in her young life, her pivot point.  “It was, ‘How am I supposed to say no to the chance of a lifetime?’” said Kristen.  But she did say ‘no.’ “There was never a doubt in my mind,” Kristin said.  She refused the request to photo shoot in revealing attire.

The following race, which was the fourth race into the 2009 season with Bobby Hamilton Jr. Racing, Kristen’s crew chief didn’t show, and her mom had to spot for her.  Kristen felt that God was answering her prayers and telling her what she should do.  “I was determined that race was the last race I was going to drive for them,” Kristin said.  She cut her losses and left the team that asked her to deny herself.

God has since blessed Kristin’s decision and introduced her to new and exciting opportunities.  Epilady (women’s shaving products) has come on board with a small sponsorship deal.  Kristin said, “My goal is to be a good role model to young girls and women, not just in NASCAR, but everywhere, to prove that you can be successful without sacrificing your beliefs.”  Kristin’s father Kenny Bumbera, who owns and operates Bumbera Performance in Houston, TX, has developed a new chassis for NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series, formerly know as the Camping World Series.

Kristin has tested in the new platform and will race for the family team as finances allow, while seeking full time sponsorship.  It has been a tough road for Kristin, as it is for many drivers who dream of making a living racing.  She has not let that get her down, as her desire is to inspire other people by letting her light shine, encouraging others with her story, and being an example proving that you don’t have to compromise integrity to get ahead.  Kristin is getting married in May and is excited about her dreams coming true, even after all that she has been through.  PivotPointEndingBug

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