BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Kern County is known for many things and there are still many drivers out there making sure racing is one of them.
One young lady from Bakersfield is also willing to crash through some walls to make sure she and other female drivers are a part of that conversation.
"As soon as I get in the car and like we start at the motor and everything I have a huge smile on my face and that's always something I look forward to like even if we're not going out to raise, I'll sit in the car and started up just to listen to it," local racer Kercie Jung said.
Kercie started racing at seven-years-old and quickly found success. First, racing Mini Dwarfs, then Bandoleros, winning eight track championships during that time.
Now, she competes in the junior late model series at Madera Speedway which features the top-20 drivers from across the country between the ages of 10 and 16.
Madera’s owner and the creator of the junior late model series, Kenny Shepherd, recognizes Kercie as one of the top female racing prospects in the state.
"She's just really a hammer down kind of more of a driver really pushing really hard. So, the girls we work with, I think curacy has as much potential as any of them," Shepherd said.
"She wants so much here in the Bandoleros leading up to the juniors that got her into the program, she was on the Junior League model challenge, which she competed against 350 drivers across the country, Mexico, Canada and England. She made the final 12 and that wasn't because she was a female is because she's one of the most talented has the maximum potential."
With deep racing roots, Kenny has seen some of the best-of-the-best firsthand, including Bakersfield's own Kevin Harvick, so he knows a race car driver when he sees one.
"As far as being the next one Kern County, behind Kevin Harvick, I would say, she has all the right parts and pieces as far as talent at this point," Shepherd said.
Once she ages out of her current series, Kercie’s next goal would be to join her fellow Bakersfield driver in NASCAR.
"To race where Kevin Harvick is and take Kern County up there and just Bakersfield in general, take it up to NASCAR and hopefully make it to like the highest level we can but right now we're just trying to keep it small," Jung said.
"As a mom, I would love to see her succeed in anything that she does in life by racing as her passion," Kercie's mom Heather shared.
While she chases down those dreams, she’s also making sure to support causes close to her heart as you can see with decals placed all over her car. Including a new one this season, one for the Society for Disabled Children. An organization she wanted to support in honor of her late friend Brayden Eidenshink.
"If somebody at the track supports it, there's, there's going to be like a different driver asking like oh why do you support this and when you give your region, and you give some examples on why you do that, they jump on board and then it kind of just makes it into a huge thing and it makes it really cool," Kercie said.
Another cause close to her is opening doors for other female drivers. Having only raced an estimate of about ten girls in her seven-year career.
"I want to see more females in the sport because I don't want it to be considered a male-dominated sport for as long as it has been, and I would like to change that, even though it's kind of hard right now, but that is what we're shooting for," Kercie said.
"She's wanting to make it so it's a level playing field and I would love, love for her to have the opportunity to do so," Heather said.
While she’s respected on the track, she hasn’t always heard that off of it.
"That's what pushed me to do it so much is because within telling me that I couldn't, it kind of just pushed me to do it more driven," Kercie said.
"It's been amazing watching her grow and knowing that she's so passionate about the sport and wanting to succeed and thrive," Heather said.
"I think I kind of got lucky with that because I have my family to back me up and support me through it," Kercie said.
And if you wonder if mom still gets nervous watching her little girl out on the track where the average speed is 80 miles per hour, the answer is yes.
"I strap her in before every race and I make sure both are tight. I kiss her before she's climbing in the car. And that is what I'm going to continue to do as long as she's allowing me to it. So, it's one of those things, I say a prayer and go out and let her do her thing, and I cheer as loud as possible," Heather said.
Kercie will finish up this year’s Jr. Late Model series this weekend but Kern County can expect to be watching this young driver for many more years to come.