Living Her Dream

Sydney Davis Yagel wanted a career in motorsports; she got it as SCCA Pro Racing’s Manager of Race Operations

How does Sydney Davis Yagel explain her rise up the management side of the motorsports ladder? “I guess I’ve slowly put myself in position to be in the right place at the right time,” she explains. “I think some of it is by design and some of it is just right place, right time; but I knew that I wanted to work in racing and I tried to get as much knowledge as I could.”

Davis Yagel was previously Events and Driving School manager at MSR Houston, the marshal coordinator at Circuit of the Americas and race chair for Verizon IndyCar Series races at Houston and NOLA Motorsports Park. She’s also been a contributor to the SCCA’s SportsCar magazine, and was named the SCCA Member of Excellence in 2016. 

Oh, and she’s a Mazda racer.

“My first car was a Mazda Miata that I purchased so it would hold the rain tires and spare parts if the race car needed something,” she laughs. “My dad and uncle started racing back in the ’70s and they had a C Sports Racer that was aging – whenever it would break, it would cost way more than it ought to. They didn’t want my cousins and I to race that. The Miata that I still race is the first car that I ever raced. It started out as an ITE Miata, and then we put it in E Production trim. We had a second Miata we made into an E Production and GT-3 car.

“It was probably 2009 that the Runoffs seemed like a fun idea and we spent more money and invested in shocks and motors and things like that, so I went to the Runoffs in ’09 for the first time,” she explains. “I blew up two motors and called up Mazda crying and asked for one to be overnighted, which it was. That was awesome [and] that’s what I like about Mazda – it doesn’t matter if you’re the person fighting for 21st or fighting for first, they are still going to do what they can to make your race fun and exciting. Mine was, because I was racing in the rain on slicks. I got all the merit badges at the Runoffs my first year.”

Davis Yagel’s primary responsibilities will be the overall operation of SCCA Pro Racing along with growing two of SCCA Pro Racing’s open-wheel series. “Right now, we’re focusing on F4 and F3. Building up those programs to be self-sufficient series. We sanction Trans Am, so there will be some involvement in sanctioning agreements and insurance,” she says.

Despite being new on the job, she already has a couple of work weekends under her belt, one at Homestead-Miami Speedway and the other at VIRginia International Raceway, and she was pleased with the results. But she also has eyes on the future. “I want to expand [SCCA Pro Racing’s] footprint,” she says. “I think the SCCA has the opportunity to bring some other series into our stable and provide them with a product that some folks think we’ve lost sight of. I take that as a personal challenge.”