There are photos of Kyla Hubbard sitting in the driver’s seat of her parents’ ‘85 Monte Carlo in the late 1990s when she was just 2 years old. Twenty years later, Hubbard is still sitting in that car, but now she’s making low 4.50-second passes in it as one of the new hitters in Ultra Street competition.
Kyla’s father, longtime X275 racer and all-around Texas racing veteran Kenny Hubbard, originally bought the car from his best friend for a hundred bucks and spent four years building it with his wife, Billie, before racing it for six years. The car was parked for several years. In the meantime, Kyla raced Jr. Dragsters until she was 13, and when she decided she was ready to race a “big car” when she was 18, the Hubbards started rebuilding the Monte Carlo. A few years later, Kyla made her Ultra Street debut in March of 2021.
“It’s really sentimental for sure,” says Hubbard, now 22. “If you look back at pictures, seeing the difference of what it came from to now, it’s crazy. I feel like it fits me perfect.”
Understandably, Hubbard didn’t immediately feel comfortable in the ProCharger-boosted, Naiser Racing Engines-powered Monte Carlo, which is outfitted with products from partners like M&M Transmission, Mac-Fab Beadlocks, TBM Brakes, Menscer Motorsports, FuelTech and more. But she’s grown more comfortable in the car, all while improving as a driver.
“My nerves were through the roof,” Hubbard recalls of her first time driving the Monte Carlo. “I was very nervous, but now I get in the car and it’s like my safe place. Not saying that I don’t ever get nervous – I do – but as soon as my car fires up, I’m good. It just comes natural. I know where everything is, I don’t have to look for it. It’s almost become like a natural habit for me. I’ve definitely seen the progression in lights. That’s been a big thing that we struggled with in the beginning, learning how to hit the tree.”
Quick reaction times are necessary in Ultra Street, where passes in the low 4.50-second range in the eighth mile have become the norm.
“Going into it, I didn’t really know much about Ultra Street only because Dad had never raced it,” says Hubbard, whose career-best pass is currently a 4.52. “I didn’t know the competitiveness of the class. Now that I’m in it, I love it. It’s so competitive and it’s growing every year with the competitiveness. It’s definitely a tough class. I like it. I think there are great people in the class. I feel like everyone gets along well. We all have great sportsmanship, so I’ve enjoyed it for sure.”
Hubbard has learned from plenty of talented drivers, namely her dad, who’s also become one of the most in-demand tuners in the drag radial scene. Kyla knows her way around the car and has her various duties in the pits between rounds and back at the shop between races, but she’s fine to leave the tuning up to Kenny.
“I just let him do his thing and I’m the driver,” she laughs. “I don’t ask questions. It’s just a mindset thing. I don’t want to know if the car is going to go faster here or may do a wheelie there. I like to just get in and drive it and just trust the car and trust him, which I do 100%.”
Hubbard is content in Ultra Street, but she’d like to someday move to a quicker class like X275. For now, she’ll keep chasing her first win in the car while earning points in the FuelTech Radial Outlaws Racing Series, where Ultra Street is known as Ultimate Street. The series has three races left in its inaugural six-race season, and Hubbard is determined to leave at least one of those as the winner.
“If you want to do it,” begins Hubbard, who also works full-time and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in health science, “you set your mind to it no matter what.”