True to their names, Raven (#51) and Phoenyx (#88) Kimball like to fly — around the track, that is.
Phoenyx, 15, and Raven, 20, both began their racing careers at Rush Hour Karting in Garner when they were still in elementary school. In 2020, Phoenyx’s need for speed expanded beyond the go-kart world and sent her straight into the realm of Bandoleros — described by the Wake County Speedway as “a turnkey, spec-series racer designed for drivers as young as eight years old and the young-at-heart at any age.”
“I started racing Bandos when I was around 13,” said Phoenyx, a rising sophomore at Garner Magnet High School. “We’ve been going to NASCAR races ever since we were younger, so it’s always been a thing in our family.”
2022 Goodyear All American Speedway Champion
2022 Wake County Speedway Runner Up Champion
2022 All Pro Limited Late Model Series Champion
2022 Winter Heat Series Champion
2021 Goodyear All American Speedway Most Popular Driver
5th in National Inex Points
Track record holder at 6 different tracks
Phoenyx’s older sister, Raven, now works at Rush Hour and studies interior design. Not one to be left behind, she also made the leap from go-karts to motorsports two years ago.
“I started on go-karts, but unlike Phoenyx, I didn’t go to Bandos,” said Raven. “I went from go-karts to Legend cars. A Bando is much smaller and goes much slower, and there’s not as much technique to use as the Legend.”
“A lot of people say that if you can drive a Legend, you can drive anything,” added Raven.
For those who are unfamiliar with the racing scene, Legend cars are 5/8-scale replicas of American automobiles from the 1930s and 1940s. Recently, one of Raven’s cars — named after Area 51 and decorated accordingly — was totaled at the Southern National Motor Speedway during the Thanksgiving Classic.
“My first big wreck was big enough to destroy my car,” said Raven. “There was absolutely nothing I could do and nowhere I could go. Now we are down to one car each.”
Both girls are remarkably cavalier about their accidents on the track, summing them up as a hazard of the trade. Their mother, Amanda — owner of Twisted Scizzors Salon in Cary — has something else to say on the matter.
“The whole thing is terrifying,” said Amanda. “To watch them race, I get so anxious. The scariest moment was when Phoenyx was intentionally flipped at Charlotte Motor Speedway. My husband was at the track while Raven and I were watching from home. She barrel rolled three times before coming to a stop. It was tough to watch.”
On another occasion, Phoenyx’s spindle broke during qualifying at the Wake County Speedway, sending her straight into the wall at full speed.
“I ran so fast into the track, and when I got to her she was hysterically crying,” said Amanda. “I think the impact knocked the air out of her. Her teammate’s dad, not knowing if she was OK or even going to race later that night, went and picked up her backup car and brought it to the track. She climbed in, started at the rear, made her way to the front, and won that race.”
A young girl on the track is nothing to sneeze at in a male-dominated sport, but with 33 wins in just two years, Phoenyx doesn’t just compete with the boys — she beats them.
“Phoenyx, like many other girls, sadly has to experience boys not liking the fact that a female is out on the track passing them and winning,” said Amanda. “Don’t get me wrong — not every boy/man is like that. There are tons of boys that support her and congratulate her and let her know she has done a great job.”
Despite her impressive track record, Raven doesn’t begrudge her little sister any win — the spirit of competition comes second to her admiration of her family.
“I’m inspired by my sister and my dad,” said Raven. “I can see how [Phoenyx] does things and learn from her, and I want to try to do better and do what she can do. My dad’s really encouraging, always saying that I can do anything. If he has time to race Legends, he will hop in, but usually he’s more worried about us.”
For the girls, the love of racing is a family affair. Their mother grew up going to the New Hampshire International Speedway with her father every year to watch Dale Earnhardt, Sr.
“The best moment for me is when Raven and I saw Phoenyx win her very first race at Auburndale Speedway in Florida,” Amanda recalled. “Not only did she win, but her dying grandfather watched her win. He lived for racing. He, too, was a NASCAR fan. He was crying because he was so happy, and he passed away two weeks later. I honestly believe he hung on to see her win. The two girls now carry his ashes in a pendant bolted on the dash of their Legend cars.”
Surrounded and raised by NASCAR fans, Phoenyx has been influenced by one driver in particular.
“The person who inspired me was Dale Earnhart, Jr., just because growing up that was the person we used to watch in all the NASCAR races,” said Phoenyx. “My number is 88, and that number came from him.”
Both girls have raced for the same team for the last three years: Dillon Spain Motorsports, established in 2016.
All four of the Kimball siblings are named after things that fly: Raven, Phoenyx, Jet, and Hawk.
“I met the Kimballs in 2020, during the US Legends Summer Shootout,” said owner Dillon Spain. “I was there working and was introduced to them through one of my clients. Both girls are talented with the motivation to learn and improve. They have the determination and drive to do what it takes to chase their dreams.”
When it comes to racing dreams, Raven’s is simple: to be better on the track than the last time she went out.
“As long as I’m not last, I’m OK,” Raven said, laughing.
Phoenyx, who just recently made her Legend debut, has a new goal: to finish in the top 10 at her home tracks of Wake County Speedway and New River All American Speedway, with the ultimate goal of bringing home a win in her first season of Legends racing.
“Phoenyx, it’s almost as if she was truly meant to be a NASCAR driver,” said Amanda. “Whether it be ARCA, trucks, Xfinity, or Cup. She has the driving ability to make that happen. She would tell you she doesn’t see herself that far because it’s so hard to get to, but she has the drive and talent to get there, for sure. Everyone sees that in her. She is a girl who takes everything day by day, and if an opportunity presents itself, she goes for it.”
Phoenyx Kimball’s brand-new YouTube series, “My Super Sweet Track Life” — showing the glamorous (and not so glamorous) parts of her life, both on and off the track.
When it comes to other young girls who are interested in racing, both Kimball sisters have some words of advice.
“Lots of girls get beat down because it’s a male-dominated sport,” said Phoenyx. “Lots of them might be scared about what may happen, what will happen, or what could happen, but they just need to get in and experience how fun it can be, experience the friendships you can make and the family you can make.”
“And remember, you’re just as good as the boys, if not better,” added Raven, smiling.
Amen to that.
Want to watch Phoenyx and Raven race locally? Visit wcspeedway.com.
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