From an early age, Ken Sihota has had a fascination with cars.
At age 13, he rebuilt his first engine and even before he had a driver’s licence, Sihota already owned a car, a ’68 Dodge Charger muscle car which he bought when he was 15.
Thirty years later, he is still going strong.
Earlier this month (Nov. 17), the 45-year-old Sihota was competing at the Street Car Super Nationals in Las Vegas, a yearly drag racing event that draws upwards of 300 cars competing in various classes.
Sihota’s class — the Outlaw 10.5 class (the 10.5 represents the width in inches of the rear tires) — had 39 competitors.
And the final two both hailed from the Fraser Valley: Langley’s Sihota and Abbotsford’s Steve Nicholson. The friends race locally with the Canadian Pro Street Association which is run at the Mission Raceway.
Nicholson edged Sihota for top spot in the Outlaw 10.5 class at the Street Car Super Nationals.
While disappointed not to win, Sihota was happy to have done so well.
“We have gone there before and it has beat us up twice on two different cars,” he said.
“So it was time to turn it around and we did that this year.”
“Experience, better equipment and knowledge of the track and the conditions,” Sihota said about what made the difference this time around.
“It can be very tricky conditions down there.”
“The conditions come from the dry air and the higher elevation — which makes it harder to make power — and the track is much stickier than we are used to locally,” Sihota explained.
The second-place finish did not come without its challenges, as Sihota experienced mechanical issues, electrical issues, and even had a brief meeting with a wall.
Sihota has raced cars since 1995.
“I enjoy the rush, the thrill, the challenge of always trying to get better and get faster,” he explained. “Cars are my passion.”
He grew up around cars as his dad and a neighbour were always tinkering under the hood.
With a passion for cars and motorsports, Sihota opened up Ken’s Specialty Automotive, first in Richmond — where he grew up — and then relocating to Langley eight years ago.
Sihota was behind the wheel of his 2000 Pontiac Firebird, a modified ex-pro stock car that was built by RJ Racecars, a U.S. company. It was updated by Rob Guazzaroni of Cloverdale’s Diversified Metal Works.
The engines for Sihota and Nicholson’s cars were both built, tuned and maintained by Ken’s Specialty Automotive.
Sihota’s fastest time at Super Nationals was 6.268 seconds at 219 miles per hour over the quarter-mile track.
He thanked the dedication and support of his crew Ivan Curkovic and Liam Thomas throughout the past year, as well as the understanding and support of his family and friends.
Sihota also credited his sponsors — Choice Mechanical Ltd., White Powder Coating Ltd., TriCity Cutting and Coring, Gradar Holdings, MWH Trucking and Excavating and CHB Industrial Contractors — for their support.