FOUNDER/DRIVER, Erica Ortiz
Erica Ortiz is the founder and driver of the all-female pro modified team Horsepower & Heels™ and strong advocate of women in racing. A veteran both behind the wheel and behind a torque wrench, Erica brings over 15 years of experience navigating the male-dominated motor sports arena from the female perspective.
At first glance, none would suspect Erica Ortiz to be a frontrunner in the ultra-competitive world of drag racing. Born and raised in Orlando, FL by her grandparents — a retired Air Force officer and draftsman, and a housewife, Erica was raised in a strict, traditional latin household. Nowhere was it evident where Erica’s love for racing and speed developed. The last raised in her grandparents home, none of her family had knowledge of motorsports, and while Erica grew up loving competition,– “anything athletic or sports oriented, even down to academics, I loved the thrill of competition and the adrenaline rush of winning.” says Erica. “I was never much of a girlie girl, no matter how hard I tried. It was all just awkward to me, I wanted to be out there playing with the boys, not on the sidelines looking pretty.”
Beginning with a stock street car, Erica learned the ropes of drag racing from the grassroots level. She apprenticed under Florida-based Lugo Motorsports learning not only to drive these powerful machines, but also to tune and build them. From there, she graduated to the Drag Radial category of racing during 2002-2004, holding many records as the first female to break the 8 second and 175mph barriers, as well as finishing #2 for the 2003 FFW Drag Radial championship.
In 2005, Erica made the move to the PRO ranks, with the start of her 1988 Twin Turbocharged Thunderbird Pro 5.0 entry. She continued to break barriers, becoming the first woman in the 6 second zone in FFW competition, and the first woman in FFW history to lay claim to the 200 mph club, before finishing her rookie PRO season in the #2 position for the 2006 FFW Pro Championship. Even more noteworthy, this feat was accomplished with less than a quarter of the budget of her fellow competitors, running antiquated equipment.
With the new found success, Erica set off in 2007 to build a newer, more competitive race operation. She upgraded the old Thunderbird chassis to a new 2007 Mustang body in white, and upgraded her engine program to more durable components. Unfortunately, midway through this conversion process, economic downturn slowed this project to a near halt for Erica. Racing was sidelined so that Erica could turn her focus on strengthening her career and starting a family.
Her passion and fire for the sport never faded, and with her career as Marketing Director solid, she is ready to make a COMEBACK! Bringing her unparalleled drive and talent back to the forefront of Horsepower & Heels Racing, Erica looks to prove that she still has what it takes to achieve her ultimate dream: to become a full-time NHRA Professional racer.
Occupation: Marketing Communications Manager
Education: General Business Administration, Troy State University
Hobbies: Contributing Writer, Women in Motorsports Column, Examiner.com; Fitness/Weightlifting; Roller Derby
2006– PRO 5.0
- Runner-up, FFW Pro 5.0 2006 Points Championship
- Runner-up, FFW Buckeye State Nationals– Norwalk, OH
- #3 qualifier, FFW Old Dominion Nationals– Richmond, VA
- Runner-up, Phenix Motorsports Quick 8– Phenix City, AL
- First female to compete in FFW Pro 5.0
- First female in the 6’s in Fun Ford Weekend
- First female over 200 mph in Fun Ford Weekend
2004– DRAG RADIAL
- Runner-up in the ESX Motorsports Maximum Velocity Female Driver Search
- Running a limited schedule, Erica finished 5th in FFW Drag Radial 2004 Points Championship, attending only 3 events.
- First female over 175mph on a radial tire
- Gained valuable crew experience with various Pro Modified teams, crewing on the top nitrous entry at the ADRL Dragstock Pro Modified event.
2003– DRAG RADIAL
- Runner-up, FFW Drag Radial 2004 Points Championship
- Runner-up, FFW Ford Mustang World Finals — Ennis, TX
- Runner-up, FFW Midwest Nationals — Cordova, IL
- Runner-up, FFW Peach State Nationals — Commerce, GA
- Runner-up, FFW Spring Break Shootout — Orlando, FL
- First female in the 8’s on a radial tire
- First female over 160 mph on a radial tire
2002– TRUE STREET/DRAG RADIAL
- Champion, FFW Sunshine State Nationals — Gainesville, FL (true street)
- Semi-Finalist, World Ford Challenge — St. Louis, MO (wild street)
2001– BRACKET 3/QUICK FORD
- Runner up, World Ford Challenge Bracket 3 — St. Louis, MO (Sunday, 162 car field)
- Semi-Finalist, World Ford Challenge Bracket 3 — St. Louis, MO (Saturday, 168 car field)