LAS VEGAS — Bestrewed all over the internet is the generic, unattributed quote: Anyone can make you smile, and many people can make you cry, but it takes somebody really special to make you smile with tears in your eyes.
This explains the tears of joy that overcame Sarah Burgess as she embraced her daughter Bridget following Friday’s Star Nursery 150 at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Sarah, 42, said that moment with the 20-year-old Bridget was when their historic accomplishment became surreal.
With Bridget and Sarah Burgess finishing 12th and 17th, respectively, in the penultimate ARCA Menards Series West race of the 2022 season, they became the first mother-daughter duo to compete in the same NASCAR or ARCA touring series event. Both drivers finished, which provided the opportunity for their climactic, post-race hug on the apron of the Bullring’s frontstretch.
“We got here,” Sarah Burgess said of the journey to her first West Series start alongside her daughter, a regular on the tour. “We got through practice, and now we got through the race. Definitely one for the history books, and a memory I’ll never forget.”
— ARCA Menards Series (@ARCA_Racing) October 15, 2022
One could tell this was by far the highlight of Sarah Burgess’ life in racing thus far. Her first move after her lengthy embrace with Bridget was to turn to those standing nearby and launch four words through her abiding smile: “That was so rad!”
Sarah and Bridget Burgess are from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. They moved to the United States in 2008 with nothing but a few suit cases and a desire to chase careers in American motorsports.
Both mother and daughter competed in off-road cars before the family, including Sarah’s husband and Bridget’s father Adam, decided to merge their efforts completely into Bridget’s career racing stock cars.
Bridget Burgess has been racing family-owned cars in the West Series since 2020 after making her debut driving a couple races for other car owners in 2019. Friday’s race marked her 30th West Series start, and even though she lamented not finishing in the top 10, she was just as ecstatic as her mother.
“I’m so happy for her,” Bridget Burgess said of Sarah. “I hope we get to do it again. I hope the next one is a road course, because that’s what I love. I know it was tough, because she had zero experience oval racing. So to be in an ARCA car at The Bullring … I’m impressed.”
The Burgesses had been discussing the possibility of this historic feat for years. The idea shifted toward reality when the family acquired a second race car early this year. When eBay Motors came on board to sponsor Sarah and Bridget, they had what they needed to race in Vegas.
Race day itself, though, was a new challenge. Sarah Burgess typically serves as Bridget’s crew chief during West Series races. So family friend Victor Franco needed to call the race for both drivers. Those three made up half the team’s crew. Spearheaded by Sarah and Bridget Burgess themselves, a total of six people prepared both cars as the race approached.
WHAT A DAY!! Making history, I got to race @8BridgetBurgess in an @ARCA_Racing race! The eBay Motors Chevrolet SS was an amazing car to drive and happy to get it to the checked flag.#ebaymotors #arcaracing #history #friyay #rtic #GEARWRENCH #Letsride @eBayMotors @eBay pic.twitter.com/EFXnnU9o8u
— Sarah Burgess (@SarahBurgess97) October 15, 2022
The historic nature of Sarah and Bridget Burgess competing in the same ARCA race was not lost on either driver, but more than anything, Sarah couldn’t get over the joy the competition brought her. A former Olympic-level speed skater and off-road racer, Sarah said the Vegas race gave her the bug again, so to speak.
That’s why she believes she might race again in the West Series moving forward. With the significance of her first start being the catalyst, Sarah said she had so much fun racing an ARCA car that the simple glee is enough to get her back behind the wheel.
Bridget echoed that sentiment: “I had a lot of fun. I would do it all over again.”
Regardless of what the future holds, both drivers will always recall what Sarah called “the most amazing experience of [her] life.” They made stock-car racing history, and they did it with a skeleton crew out of a small shop in Tooele, Utah.
More importantly, a mother and daughter shared a moment of a lifetime.