RW drag racer snags national sponsor

Danika Miles will start the Spring racing season in her new race car, to be painted by her father. | Barbara Ball

RIDGEWAY – Ridgeway preteen drag racer Danika Miles has proven to be a rising star in her sport as she prepares to sign with a national sponsor next month.

Miles, 11, will fly to New York in February to sign a contract with ES Foods, a school foods supplier, to be the company’s spokesperson and face of the company’s future marketing campaign. While ES Foods has sponsored other student athletes around the country, this is the first time it has sponsored a professional student

Danika Miles takes her last ride in her first dragster, which her father Gabe Miles built, painted and maintained. He is now upfitting and painting her new race car, made possible through the sponsorship of ES Foods. | Photo provided by Danika Miles Racing Team

athlete.

During her time in New York, Miles will also appear at a special announcement event and sign autographs.

“It’s amazing. I’ve never done anything like this and I’m just really excited about it; I can’t wait,” Miles stated.

Her father, Gabe Miles, who owns a paint and body shop in Ridgeway and has some racing experience, himself, takes care of his daughter’s car’s mechanical maintenance, body work and even airbrushes the designs on the finished product.

Miles said the title sponsorship has allowed the team to purchase a new, more powerful car, new trailer and the company will cover travel, equipment and other expenses.

Gabe Miles said it will also help his daughter test her limits on the drag racing circuit and boost her confidence.

“She’s going from a car that ran an eighth of a mile in 10 seconds at 64 miles per hour to a car that has an estimated time of 7.90 seconds at 90 miles per hour,” Gabe Miles stated. “She loves the faster car.”

Founded in 1998, ES Foods is a major supplier of food products to school systems across the country.  After signing the contract, Miles will display the company’s logo on her new dragster for the 2019 year and have the company’s support as she strikes out in her second full year of racing.

“It is a big deal, and it means a lot to me to know that I have a big company’s support,” Miles stated. “It makes me even more excited to get behind the wheel and see what I can do.”

“Before, this was out of our own pocket. So, any parts or repairs were made out of what we could afford. Now, she doesn’t have to be afraid to try something in case it doesn’t work and then we have to make repairs. This gives her the freedom to really see what she’s capable of,” Miles stated.

Searching for a major sponsor was a mission that Miles’ father set out on last year to help support his daughter’s drive to succeed on the track, but only having one year of racing under her belt put her at a slight disadvantage, he stated.

“A lot of folks were a little hesitant to sponsor her because she was so new to racing. Some were afraid that maybe it was just a hobby or that she wasn’t serious, but I think now they can see that she is very serious about this,” he stated.

Miles began racing in 2018 after she accompanied her father to a Charlotte track in late 2017 for his own race. Having just expected to be there to cheer on her father, it wasn’t until she saw younger drivers climbing into their own cars that she realized she could join in on the fun as well.

“It was just this moment of ‘wow’ for me. I didn’t even know that was a thing, that kids could do this, and as soon as I realized it, I knew that was something I wanted to do,” she told The Voice in a November interview.

Gabe Miles said that was a defining moment for his daughter. Having always been a shy, quiet child who avoided crowds and attention, climbing into a dragster gave her a boost of confidence he never could have expected.

“She has grown so much, on the track. She used to be afraid to ride an elevator and next month she’ll be getting on a plane for the first time to go to New York – and she’s thrilled about it. As a parent, you never want to push them to do anything, but this is something she loves and wants to do,” he stated.

Miles’ 2019 racing season will begin this spring, and while she has the national sponsorship spot filled, her father said there are several smaller, local sponsors that have come on board including Capitol City Cycles, Blown Away Hair Salon, Danny’s Automotive and Brown’s Oil & Lube.

“She’ll have those local business logos on her car and suit, too. It’s a great way to represent where she comes from.”