The first time I went to the racetrack to watch 17-year-old Shayla Waddell race, my thoughts were, “It’s loud, dirty, and I hope she doesn’t crash!”After interviewing Shayla and her family members, I learned that they have the same thoughts. The big difference is that they LOVE it anyway!
Unlike them, racing isn’t in my blood. Or maybe it is–because Shayla is my cousin! My husband’s family grew up at the racetrack, too. Our middle son, Brandon, even worked as a mechanic on her race crew for awhile.
Shayla is quiet, calm, and oddly unaffected by the fame and glory she has garnered as one of the youngest and most successful girls in the male-dominated sport of sprint car racing. Fans line up to get her autograph, and she smiles shyly at each one of them, amidst the sound of cheering crowds and revving engines. Then, she climbs into her 550 horsepower vehicle, conducts a safety check, and zooms down the track at speeds of 100 miles per hour.
That’s when myself and the rest of our family members gather in the stadium, hearts racing, to cheer Shayla to victory. And although racing isn’t my sport of choice—it was an honor to write her story for the world. In real life, she’s even nicer, lovelier, and more professional than this mere 1,500-word article can express.
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