NASCAR Driver Kenzie Hemric Opens Up About Early Childhood Inspiration

by Caitlin Berard

Sometimes, it just runs in the family. Former NASCAR driver Kenzie Hemric is the daughter of dirt bike racer Darren Ruston and wife of reigning Xfinity Series champion Daniel Hemric. From a young age, Kenzie Hemric had a need for speed. The young daredevil saw her father’s dirt bike competition and immediately found inspiration – from then on, Kenzie Hemric knew her destiny was to race.

Hemric’s father knew the cost of dirt bike racing, however. He knew that it meant a broken body at a relatively young age. And though he tried to interest his daughter with volleyball and cheerleading, her thirst for racing couldn’t be suppressed.

So, Darren Ruston conceded and paid the $50 for his 13-year-old daughter to drive a Bandolero around the Lil’ Texas Motor Speedway, a .20-mile asphalt circuit on NASCAR grounds. After a hesitant first round, Ruston encouraged his daughter to stop worrying about wrecking the car and drive. And so she did.

In an interview with NASCAR, Ruston recalled his daughter’s impressive performance on the tiny speedway. “Oh boy, everybody comes running up,” Ruston said. “‘Who’s your son? What’s your son been driving?’ I was like nah, that ain’t my son. That’s my daughter.”

Kenzie Hemric Hopes to Provide Inspiration to Future Drivers

In 2009, Kenzie Hemric’s first year in North Carolina, she claimed an impressive 39 feature wins and seven Legends car championships, including the U.S. Legends Asphalt National Championship. In the years that followed, Hemric continued to add to her resume, racking up late-model accolades and moving up to the ARCA Menards Series.

Hemric’s husband, fellow NASCAR driver Daniel Hemric, gave a glowing review of his wife’s early career. “The only way to get respect is simply to prove yourself,” Hemric said. “And she did that quick enough and fast enough where there wasn’t people picking on her at the race track. None of that was going on. It was just really intriguing to me. Like, here’s this person I want to spend my life with and also she’s probably – I mean, I’m biased – the best female racer that’s done it.”

Though she’s aware that being a female NASCAR driver is a rare thing, Hemric’s goal was never to become the best female driver – she simply wanted to be the best, period. “I just felt like I was another competitor,” Kenzie said. “I never thought to myself like oh, I want to be the best female – I just wanted to be respected.”

Kenzie Hemric, now a mother, is retired from racing. However, the former racer can’t deny that the need for speed still lives within her. And she’s more than prepared for her daughter Rhen to have the racing gene. “I’m like, let her go, she’ll figure it out,” Kenzie said. “She’s got to be tough. That’s how I grew up.”