Dr. Karen Salvagio
Type of Racing: Sports Car
Race Series: Factory Five Challenge Series (NASA FFR); Editor in Chief: Thunder Valley Racing
Personal Motto: "Dream big; Work hard!"
Introduction: Karen's twenty-four year racing career began in 1985 on the NASCAR Winston Series dirt track events of Central California. After securing a Most Improved Driver award and numerous top five finishes in stockcar racing, she made the move to road racing with the Vintage Auto Racing Association (VARA).
Driving a 1959 Corvette, Karen competed in night endurance races and competition events across the Southwest. Her growing passion for racing and a desire to develop highly refined driving skills led her into performance driving Corvettes in high and low speed events with the SCCA and National Council of Corvette Clubs (NCCC).
In 2000, Karen joined the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), competing in the Women's Global GT Series. Karen has also competed in NHRA drag racing events, garnering the Gardei Memorial Overall Competitor Award in 1997 (Firebird Raceway), and Top Eliminator at the Pomona Drags in 1999. She also serves as an instructor driver at NCCC, NASA, and SVTOA driving school events, and enjoys working with novice drivers as they develop confidence through driving mastery.
Karen has secured more that 160 first place finishes in driving competitions, and was awarded the 2005 West Coast Region Championship for the National Council of Corvette Clubs (NCCC), a title she previously secured in 1998, 1999 and 2001. In 2008, she competed with Team DivaSpeed, the first all-woman endurance racing team to run in the Western Endurance Racing Championship (WERC), and stood on the podium four times, including a 1st place in the 6 Hours of Buttonwillow, and 1st place in the 4 Hours of Infineon. Success followed her throughout the 2008 season, and consistent performances resulted in her earning the Runner-Up FFR Championship award for the 2008 FFR West Coast Challenge Series.
Current Season: Awarded 2009 FFR West Coast Championship! 2009 finds Karen competing in the Factory Five Challenge Series (FFR) in her 1965 Cobra replica racer with the National Auto Sport Association (NASA). Current season:
2009 Stats: 7 Pole Positions, 7 1st place race victories, and 10 podium finishes, including competition at Infineon, California Speedway, Buttonwillow Raceway Park and Thunderhill Raceway. Now in her fourth year in the cars, Karen has really mastered the unique driving style required to pilot the Cobra. In 2008, her driving skill resulted in 13 pole positions, fourteen podium finishes, and two overall race victories. She competes at the local and national FFR Challenge Series levels though participation in the FFR West Coast Series, and at the NASA Nationals to be held at Miller Motorsports Park in September 2009.
Endurance Racing: Endurance racing is Karen’s true passion, and in 2008, she and her intrepid race team, took on the most extreme endurance racing challenge on the planet, competing for a second time in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Her team completed 470 grueling laps, (more than 1,100 miles under racing conditions), and finished 8th in class and 48th over (in a field of 72 teams). Team Thunder Valley Racing is already making plans for the 2009 25 Hours race in which they will field the first ever Type 65 “Daytona” Coupe to compete in the longest race in its marque’s history
Racing the GTM-R: 3 Hour Enduro: Karen had the opportunity to co-drive the fast and oh so beautiful GTM-R at the 3 Hour Enduro of Buttonwillow in June 2009. Along with her talented co-driver Chris Durbin, the pair secured first in class and stood atop the podium as the overall race winners!
Thunder Valley Racing: Karen is now in her eighth year as Editor-in-Chief for Thunder Valley Racing, and travels nationally to support women in racing efforts. She is an instructor driver with the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) and the SVTOA Clubs, and feeds the competitive spirit through high speed competition events.
Racing Goals: Karen’s racing goal is to compete on a national or international level with a road racing team at endurance events. Her personal goal is to bring widespread, international attention to the efforts of the women in racing through her work with the dedicated team at Thunder Valley Racing.
Personal: Karen served nine years in the U.S. Air Force as an aircraft mechanic on B-52's and KC-135 aircraft. She had several stateside assignments, as well as tours in Japan and the Philippines. In 1985 she left the military to pursue a career in education, and used the GI Bill to secure her college education while working full time as a service manager at a motorcycle shop. She earned her bachelors degree in social science in 1989, and became an elementary school teacher for the next seven years. She served as a school principal for the last eight years, and now
Karen serves as Assistant Superintendent of Education Services for the Romoland School district in the Inland Empire area of Southern California. She holds a Doctorate in organizational leadership, and a Master's Degree in education. Her daughter Tracy is an aspiring driver, garnering the SCCA Novice Driver of the Year award when she was just 16 years of age.
Special Thanks to: Karen is grateful for the support of her loving family, professional colleagues, and many racing friends who believe in her and helped her follow her dreams. Karen’s racing efforts would also not be possible without the support of her awesome sponsors: Levy Racing, Ezlogy, CarboTech Brakes, HeadOn Photos, Indian Hills Auto Body, and of course, Thunder Valley Racing