The Team

Who are the black Sheep?

Black Sheep Racing is the premier race team in the Porsche Sprint Challenge USA West. Black Sheep Racing enters multiple Porsche GT3 Cup drivers throughout the race season in hopes of achieving race wins and podium results.

Team Drivers

Laura Ely

Team Principal | #209
Laura has been a sports car enthusiast all her life. Growing up in Albuquerque she followed Indy car racing and was a fan of the Unser family of drivers. Laura’s first sportscar was a 1984 Porsche 944. That’s when her love affair with Porsches began. In recent years she worked in the car business as a salesperson and eventually a manger, all the while being an avid race fan of all types of sportscar racing.

In 2008 she founded a business analytics software company for automobile dealers. In 2016 she purchased a Porsche Cayman GT4. Now with a true track car she began doing driving events and fell in love with going fast on the track. One year later with her newly acquired 2016 GT4 Cayman Clubsport she began racing.

Success came quickly for her as she has won three Porsche series class championships since 2018. Most recently in 2022 she captured the 991 class championship of the Porsche Sprint Challenge USA West series. For the 2023 season she finished second in the 992 AM class, and for 2024 she will be competing in the 992 Masters class in the Porsche Sprint Challenge USA West Series.

Steve Ayers

Steve Ayers drives the #130 2019 GT3 991.2 Cup Car. He competes currently is racing in the Porsche Sprint Challenge Series

Kenton King

Kenton King is the newest member of the Black Sheep Family. Kenton is a serial entrepreneur who has started several successful businesses in the technology and finance sectors. With his sights set on racing since birth, he focused first on earning the financial backing to make his racing dreams a reality. He has spent the last two years using his passion for data analysis and system optimization to excel quickly on the racing circuit.

Kenton has climbed the ranks of his GT peers and hopes to make his mark on the gentleman racing field. For the 2023 season, Kenton will be competing in the Porsche Sprint Challenge USA West Series driving in the 992 GT3 Cup Class. Kenton will also be competing in the World Racing Endurance League driving the Porsche 718 GT4 Clubsport under the GTO class. Last but not least, Kenton will also be testing his skills in the dirt at the Score International Off-Road Racing Baja 400 driving a Challenge Truck across the desert plains of Mexico.

2021 Yokohama Drivers Cup (GT4 Bronze Class) : P1 Champion
2021 World Racing League (GTO Class) : Inaugural 24hrs of Sebring – P4 Finish
2022 Porsche Sprint Challenge USA West (991.2 GT3 Cup Class) : P5 Finish
2022 World Racing League (GTO Class) : 14hrs of Daytona – P1 Finish

Development Drivers

Black Sheep Racing is committed to bringing drivers through the BSR Driver Development program. We have several opportunities for the 2024 and 2025 race seasons across North America. Black Sheep Racing is one of the premier race programs in the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America series, attaining countless podiums, race wins and championships.

Join Us

Come play with BSR!

Come race with Black Sheep Racing. BSR has multiple Porsche racecars available for rent for DE or PCA race events. Contact us today to get started.

Team Members

Brian Smith

Crew Chief
Brian stared his love of racing when he was 6 with his first trips to Laguna Seca and Sears Point. He has been an avid race enthusiast ever since.

His racing career began in high school with Go Karts; then into many other forms of racing after high school. Brian was rookie of the year runner up in the Pro Formula Vee in 1996. He competed in many open wheel and Sportscar classes over the years; including Go karts, Formula Vee, Formula Ford ( Spec Ford, Club Ford), Toyota Atlantic, Super Production, ITC, ITB, Porsche 997.2 Cup Car and Drag Racing - on asphalt and also 360 Sprint Cars on Dirt. Brian has also crewed on many different cars from Formula Cars to Prototypes, Touring Cars and Sedans.

His love with racing has always been with the mechanical and over the wall aspects of the sport. He has spent time doing Restorations on Vintage VWs and Can Am cars and also customizing VWs and Audis.

Brian achieved Factory VW and Audi Master Tech with Dealerships and independent Shops. He helped start a couple of company’s racing programs. He has been an “over the wall crew man” in IMSA, ALMS, NASA, SCCA, NASCAR, CART, World Of Outlaws, and Club Racing. Has worked with teams in Sprint Races as well as Endurance races including the Daytona 24 (3), 24 Hours of Le Mans (1 win) and 25 Hours of Thunderhill (6 with one over all win) including GTC, GS, TCR, P3, GTD and many others

Brian joined Black Sheep Racing as the Shop Manager / Crew Chief / Engineer in 2017 and has helped lead the team to Championships in 2018 GT4 Porsche, 2019 GT3 Porsche and 2020 F4 US West and 2 class runner up season finishes in 2020 and 2021.

Devin Alexandria Hofmann

Car Chief
Starting her love for cars when she was young, hearing the lop of the muscle cars and turbo spools of the tuner cars, she instantly wanted to know everything about them and how to make them faster. Devin went to school learning to use CAD/CAM and designed car parts for local race shops as a hobby after graduating from Augusta Technical College with a Mechanical Engineering Technology Associate's Degree.

The hobby of making car parts led her to build and racing her own car, a 2015 Subaru STi in grassroots ‘Time Attack’ where she worked with her sponsors to test and develop performance parts on track with her own car. During this time Devin got picked up by BMW Manufacturing doing lean manufacturing engineering as well as testing and analysis for new products. This change motivated Devin to go back to school and get her Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.

Devin’s love for the physics and data analysis of race cars lead her to volunteer for teams ranging from NASA Spec Miata, WRL, GTO, to Super Trofeo to Trans-Am TA2. Devin has been working for teams doing pit crew work, data, and mechanic jobs in between her day job at GE Gas Turbine as a Lead Manufacturing Engineer and her own grassroots racing program.

Kyle Downs

Car Chief
"That which you manifest is before you"

Kyle's Passion for cars started from day 1, always seen with toy cars in hand. In 2013 his passion for racing began at Laguna Seca watching the Grand Am Series for the first time, he knew from that point on what he dreamed of doing for a career. From then on he committed to learning cars and racing with the ambition to be at the top.

A proud Veteran Car Chief for Black Sheep Racing, his experience in motorsports for the last 10 years has spanned across IMSA, SRO, and various Porsche one-make series, as well as experience in a variety of Formula and Prototype cars. Having worked with manufacturers such as Lexus, Aston Martin, and Porsche in GT3 and GT4 class cars, Kyle strives to bring the best results for his team, whether it be over the wall in pit-stops, in the shop preparing cars, or on track with his drivers and team. His accomplishments include multiple wins and championship battles in GTD/ GTD-Pro, GT4 America, GT World Challenge America, Porsche Sprint Challenge, and Carrera Cup North America.

"Black Sheep Racing has always given me an opportunity to learn, grow, and be competitive in my role as car chief for the GT3 Cup Cars. I'm very excited to be back with the people who opened the door for me so many years ago, and very excited to fight for a championship title with Laura and Kenton behind the wheel."

Chris Stiffler

Support & Marketing
Chris is a Motorsport professional with over 40 years of experience. Chris started as a driver in the early 70’s making the climb to the 1993 Indy 500 rookie orientation. After an open wheel racing career he transitioned to sports cars and became a private driving coach, mechanic, and team organizer which he currently does today.

In 2020, after many years of private coaching, and being a mechanic, Chris started “ The Complete Driver” as an online tool for drivers seeking entry to expert level training experience. Upon completion of the courses, Chris is then available for hire for in person coaching on a one on one basis to individuals. Chris also hosts corporate track day events to encourage team building skills, problem solving solutions, & positive critical thinking activities.

In 2021, Chris was hired to help coach and spot in NASCAR for Jordan Anderson Racing in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series. Chris was also hired by the SCCA as a color commentator for the LIVE radio call at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Championship Runoffs due to his expertise and knowledge of several classes of cars.

In 2022, Chris was Laura’s car chief, in 2023, Chris has been promoted to Business Development Manager for Black Sheep Racing. Chris also started the 2023 year off as a spotter at the Rolex 24 hours in Daytona Beach for; Triarsi Team Ferrari in the GTD class helping the team earn a 10th place finish in their first ever IMSA Rolex 24 event.

Thomas Merrill

Driver Coach
Thomas won his first kart title in 1998 when he was just 11, and took six strait. At 16, he won his first regional championship -- making it back to back the next year. To top that off, he went on to take back-to-back national titles in 2005 and 2006. 2006 and 2007 were spent racing formula cars in SCCA and the Pacific F2000, clinching a championship and Rookie of the Year award, as well as 3 track records and over 15 wins. In 2008, he made the transition to Grand Am with PR1 Motorsports, campaigning a Pontiac GXP.R in the GT class.

In 2010, he made his second appearance at the 24 Hours of Daytona, in a Dinan BMW M6. In recent years Thomas has been in a variety of endurance sports cars, and raced in the 2014 SCCA Runoffs for the Piper Race Cars factory team. Thomas has grown to specialize in chassis setup development in conjunction with his driver coaching business, Thomas Merrill Motorsports.

Thomas has been coaching and driver coaching since 2005. He has guided his students to success in karting, formula cars, and sedans, at amateur and professional levels. “Second to only to driving, for me, is coaching. Helping one of my students take their game to the next level and watching them win races is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had.”

Curtis Chandler

Support & Transport
Curtis started his trucking career in Manitoba Canada in 1980. He has been involved in it ever since. He started his own company in 1998 and has grown that business into a 25 unit fleet, hauling mainly dry freight and flatbeds.

His racing career started in 1976 with snowmobiles on flat tracks in Canada which spanned roughly 3 years. He didn’t get back into until 1992. Over the next 6 years he campaigned in NASCAR Limited Stocks then moving into IMCA modifieds. It was a challenge balancing racing with the trucking business and eventually the trucking business won out until 2010. Then good friend of his lured him back to racing. Curtis having a CDL offered him the opportunity to be involved as a crew member.

He has worked for some really great teams and equally great people. His involvement began with driving the hauler and fueling duties in IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge. He has also worked in numerous other series. He did that off and on over the last 11 yrs. He is currently enjoying being a part of the Black Sheep Racing team, which he is now headed into the second season with the team.

Austin Simpson

Shop & Team Support
Austin’s interest in cars started from a young age where his mother would take him to attend NASCAR and Dirt racing events at local tracks around the Bay Area. He has been drawn to automotive and motorsport events of all kinds since his youth.

It wasn’t until early high school where Austin took his first Automotive Repair course, it was during this time where he began working for an Automotive shop and purchased his first project car, a 1976 Datsun 280z. Spending his high school years restoring his car and working full time Austin began to gain a lot of experience both in the schools auto program as well as his job outside of school.

After over ten years of working his way up through the different levels of automotive repair and achieving several certifications he began to look for new opportunities. In 2022 Austin began searching for something new, and in early 2023 was when he came across Black Sheep Racing. Black Sheep Racing is Austin's first job working in motorsports, and he now can’t see himself doing anything else. Austin assists with shop work, repairs, maintenance, vehicle setup and track support, as well as traveling with the team for Porsche Sprint Challenge.
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