Drifting For Pride

Zandara Kennedy. Photos by Tommy Flannagan
Zandara Kennedy. Photos by Tommy Flannagan

Zandara Kennedy is not your typical LGBTQ motorsports athlete.

While one of the first North American athlete partners in Racing Pride, the Canadian drift racer is making her mark as a person that gets our adrenaline pumping whenever she slides her Nissan 370Z on the track.

She got into drift racing by the way of being a stunt driver. “I’d always loved vehicles and was passionate about motorcycle riding,” Kennedy explained. “When I started pursuing stunts, one of the first things I started training in was stunt driving. I had a natural aptitude for it which translated into a desire to keep pushing and building my skills.”

Kennedy got the bug for stunt driving and pursued it full on. “I had a natural aptitude for it which translated into a desire to keep pushing and building my skills,” said Kennedy. “After my first stunt driving classes, I came home and bought a 1987 Ford Crown Victoria, and spent my evenings and weekends practicing to improve that skill. That dedication eventually got the attention of stunt coordinators who were willing to give me the opportunity to demonstrate my skills on set.”

With the skills she learned from stunt driving, Kennedy somehow got into the extreme motorsport art of drifting. “I always say that I got into stunts very deliberately but drifting by accident,” explained Kennedy. “As I sought to improve my skills as a stunt driver, I pursued many different types of driving training: rally school, race school, truck driving school, and eventually, I attended a drift school. Getting into a drift car for the first time was life changing for me. I knew it was something I wanted to do all the time. Where originally, I started drifting to make myself a better stunt driver, now I do stunt driving to pay for drifting and the costs of running a race team.”

While being a part of the drift racing circuit, Kennedy knew that she had to become visible as an LGBTQ motorsport athlete. She felt it was important to help bridge her and the sport to both established and potential LGBTQ fans. “People can’t be a part of what they can’t see,” Kennedy explained, “and they can’t support a movement they can’t find. It’s incredibly important to create space for both of those things.”

Kennedy also adds: “As I started to get more serious about competing, I started to look around for people like me that I could look up to – whose careers I could emulate. There are already so few women in motorsport to begin with, and LGBTQ+ people were pretty much invisible or nonexistent when I started – it made me wonder if there would be room for me in the sport or with sponsors if I was open and public about such a simple and fundamental part of my identity that in no way affected my ability to do the sport itself.”

Which, in turn, gives Kennedy a way to cultivate a new fanbase for both her and the sport itself.  “With professional sports,” explained Kennedy, “an athlete and the sport itself are only as valuable as the audience that they can attract, and the attention they can hold. Creating space and a reason for a new fan base to be interested in an existing sport works in multiple ways – as the fan base becomes more diverse and the organizers and corporate partners see a new group of potential fans, whether or not they originally saw the value in those demographics, the potential to reach a new market creates an economic motivation to support inclusivity.”

Kennedy continues: “Hopefully this will start to create a feedback loop where more young LGBTQ+ people, women, or people of color see that this is a sport where they could participate, stand out and make a difference, and where they will hopefully become more and more welcome. The LGBTQ+ community and their allies represent a huge market share. The more public we are as athletes and fans, the more we can change the shape of the sports we support and participate in.”

This is where we come in. Kennedy offers up this thought to our community as she asks us to “be present, be visible, and support one another.” Even if you don’t see the attraction in draft racing, keep an eye out for Kennedy as she slides her Nissan 370Z sideways around the turns. And think LGBTQ Pride while she does. It’s a thrilling sight to behold!

Lavender Magazine Logo White

5100 Eden Ave, Suite 107 • Edina, MN 55436
©2024 Lavender Media, Inc.

Accessibility & Website Disclaimer