In motorsport, finding a chance to race if you didn’t grow up with a family already embedded in the industry can be difficult. Racer Brad Perez will be making his NASCAR Truck Series debut this weekend at the Circuit of the Americas — not because he grew up with connections but because he dedicated his life to making his dream come true. Now, he’s doing it with the help of a California real estate agent and travel blogger, Kimberly Kirven.
Kirven met Perez at his day job as a BMW M School instructor in South Carolina, something that drew her interest as both a BMW owner and a person who grew up watching NASCAR.
“Being Black and being female and applying a one-day experience, flying to South Carolina for it from California, and then showing up and looking around and being one of two females in a room of men, I’m like, ‘This is just as unicorn as you can get,’” Kirven said in a recent interview with Jalopnik. “But seeing Brad, I was like, ‘Yes!’”
Perez, like Kirven, is a member of the BIPOC community, though he describes himself as a “Dominican/Puerto Rican/Haitian but looks kinda Filipino kid.” To put it simply, he doesn’t exactly look like the stereotypical NASCAR racer — and that’s exactly what drew Kirven to him.
“Representation makes a difference,” Kirven told me when I asked what compelled her to use her own money to sponsor Perez. “I believe in him, and I believe in his potential, and as a Black business owner, I want to invest in other diverse opportunities for success.”
What convinced her? Kirven said it was the hot lap that Perez gave her at the end of her BMW M School class.
“I could feel how good he is at driving,” she said. “I really do consider it a moving meditation when you are in the presence of someone who is doing what they love, and they’re a master at it, and they’re taking you along for the ride. It’s magic, and being on the hot lap with him in the passenger seat and not even recording it, just being in the moment and watching him do what he loves — that’s what got me hooked.”
That aspect of skill and watching a master perform their craft is what got Kirven interested in racing in the first place. She, like many other people, grew up in a family that watched NASCAR, and as she grew older, she began to realize that the sport was more than just, as she put it, “driving in circles.”
“It actually is a highly trained skill, incredibly difficult, and everything that goes into that car racing and that driver performing is precision work at its finest,” she said. “Going to the M one-day experience, I saw that again [in Perez].”
Despite that skill, Perez hasn’t always had an easy ride. Growing up in a family that couldn’t afford a racing career, Perez turned his attention to anything else — playing piano, basketball, and baseball; making music; DJing — to distract him from the job he so desperately wanted but didn’t think he could actually achieve.
And with the help of Kirven — a self-described unicorn in the motorsport world — Perez has had the chance to pursue his dreams.
Perez will be racing the No. 43 Reaume Brothers Racing truck in this Saturday’s NASCAR Truck Series race at COTA alongside other sponsors Green Tech Energy, Apex Roasters, Victory SIM, and The Mohawk Foundation. The race will be aired on FS1.