DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Racing runs in the family for Bruce and Sydney McKee – so much so that the father and daughter are preparing for their IMSA debut next weekend in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.
Following an opportunity through driving coach and friend Robby Foley, the duo is entered in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 alongside Foley for the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge on Friday, Jan. 25.
So far, as Bruce describes, it’s been a seamless transition up through the ranks.
“(Turner Motorsport Owner) Will Turner and his team have made this jump to IMSA an absolute blast,” said Bruce. “The folks at BMW Motorsport have been great to work with, have kept us from getting overwhelmed and have delivered a fantastic car and experience for our inaugural IMSA event. We’re lucky to have both them and Robby shepherd us.”
Where it all began was somewhat unconventional. For Bruce, it was a love of cars at a young age that eventually grew into a love of racing that he would come to share with his daughter.
“Motorsports has been something that I have always had an extreme interest in but wasn’t brought up in a family that had any real connection to cars or interest in motorsports,” he explained. “So, I was a fan and a witness of motorsports since I was 12 or 13, probably even earlier than that when I was little.
“I started to follow Hurley Haywood and his career when he was a young driver and became pretty attached to the Porsche marque. I bought my first Porsche when I was 19 and, it was a beater of a Porsche, but never really got into motorsports until relatively recently when we moved our family from the northeast to Birmingham, Alabama.”
It was in Birmingham where the motorsports connection was made after taking part in a series of Porsche Driving School Experiences at Barber Motorsports Park. Sydney, at the time too young to drive, still accompanied her father to some of the courses and was quick to fall in love with the racing world too.
“My start obviously kind of goes hand in hand with dad,” said Sydney, a sophomore at Brown University double majoring in engineering and economics. “But the interesting thing was when I was able to go to the Porsche Sport Driving School with him, I was actually in high school and I was taking my first physics class.
“When I was hearing the instructors talk about the forces on the car and the ground and the angle of the turns and stuff like that, it made all these little connections in my brain. So, I initially fell in love with the physics and engineer side. I was 15 at the time.”
And while the idea of his 15-year-old racing Porsches didn’t quite appeal to Bruce, the thought of a Spec Miata did.
“We looked around and got a donor car and with the help of some friends from a local garage in Birmingham, I built a Spec Miata,” said Sydney. “That’s how I was able to really put my foot in the door and have a car to be able to do my first couple of races in. In 2017, I did a couple of Spec Miata races as my very first kind of entry into the real racing side of motorsports. And then from there, dad trusted me with his cars and that’s when we started driving together.”
As it turns out, Daytona Int’l Speedway would be the first track the two co-drove at together. In 2017, Sydney stepped in as the endurance driver for her dad’s PCA Trophy East season finale.
“It is nerve wracking at times to watch her on the track and know that you can see something unfolding that you can’t control,” said Bruce. “But it’s indescribable, the feeling that you get when your kid – and specifically my daughter – is out there and is doing extremely well. It gives you a sense of pride that is hard to explain. Daytona, relative to IMSA, it’s always been sort of the target from my perspective. When I’ve watched racing, when I’ve followed racing, it’s always been sports car racing that’s really the most intriguing to me.”
For Sydney, it’s a similar feeling. Her introduction to the IMSA paddock was the 2018 Roar Before the Rolex 24 and it’s been a goal ever since.
“If you would’ve told me last year at the Roar that I would be doing this race in a year, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Sydney. “So, it’s a really, really awesome thing for me to be able to do. And this has been my dream a little bit ever since I started racing with dad. To be able to experience this and to experience this with him and with our coach and friend Robby is just a really meaningful way of having our professional debut.”