Sisters make mark on the drag racing world
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Sisters Shannon and Taylor Beimfohr share everything, including a love and talent for drag racing. The racers from Edwardsville (Ill.) High School have won numerous local championships and races.
"My dad has always been interested in cars, so he took me to the track and was like, 'Hey, all these kids race these cars,' and he asked me if I would be interested," said Shannon, who just graduated from EHS and started racing when she was 10 years old. "It was kind of one of those things where he just got me the car and ever since then it's been my entire life."
Taylor, who will be a sophomore in the fall, was also 10 when she started racing. But her interest in the sport began a little differently.
"At first I didn't want to," she said. "You can start when you're 8 years old, but I was 10. I liked to dance. That was my thing. But then I saw all my friends at the race track and so I wanted to start."
Since then, the girls have been busy racing, winning and making their names widely known.
"We go to races all over," said Taylor. "For the series we're in now, our last race was in Charleston, Ill., and the first was in Tennessee. I think the farthest one we've been to was a six-hour drive. I haven't been all the way out to California yet, but I want to!"
Drag racing is divided up by regions throughout the United States, with slightly different rules. The Beimfohrs compete in the Division 3 Midwest region.
"In 2006, I was the track champion at Gateway International Raceway," said Shannon. "And that was awesome! They had a points system, and whoever has the most points at the end, they name champ for the whole year. Then I got to go to Indiana and race some of the best people in Division 3, and I did really well in that, too."
Before each race, racers are allowed two or three time runs to check speed and effects of the weather and to make sure there are no problems with the car.
Taylor explained that her least favorite part about racing is "when your car doesn't run the way you want it to or it breaks. You're gonna lose occasionally, but one time my sister's car motor blew up. It's frustrating!"
Shannon and Taylor agree that the best part about drag racing is the people they meet.
"We're kind of like a huge family. Everyone knows everyone," said Shannon. "I've known them since I was little. We've basically grown up together."
However, being part of such a close group does have its disadvantages.
Taylor and Shannon have had to race each other. Their younger sister Kelsey, who will be a freshman next school year, has also started drag racing.
"I actually just had to race Kelsey recently and I beat her, but she's beat me some before," said Shannon. "Me and Kelsey are pretty competitive with each other."
"One is going to win, and one is going to be mad they lost," said Taylor. "I've raced Shannon, and we've both won, but we've both lost. It sucks when it happens cause we don't want to. There are so many people racing, but then you get matched up with your sister in that first round and you don't wanna beat them. You wanna wait until the finals and then beat them. It's pretty competitive. People think it's not, but it really is."
Despite their slight sibling rivalries, the girls agree they are lucky to have supportive parents who love racing as much as they do.
"My mom absolutely loves it," said Shannon. "She thinks it's the coolest thing and she helps with everything."
"My mom is out there with us every time," said Taylor. "She has this thing she does where she makes this hand gesture, kisses it, and then hits our helmets. Then my dad hits our belts. They aren't like the other cautious parents. They like taking chances. My mom says you're safer in that dragster with a five-point harness than driving down the highway."
Although Taylor and Shannon spend most of their time with racing, school is still important.
"I have to have all A's and B's if I want to race," said Shannon. "Basically, we are gone Friday through Sunday, so there is no real time to do homework, but my mom is really strict about school."
"I have had to leave school early thousands of times," said Taylor, "and it's very stressful when you don't have your weekends to get your homework done. Then if you win, you don't want to do homework. You want to celebrate with your friends and family."
After winning numerous titles and championships, it is clear that the girls have proven they possess a talent for drag racing, and each hopes to further her racing career in some way.
"My big plan is to go pro, but I still have to take the steps to get there," said Shannon. "I'm still going to go to college first and get a degree, but I still want to continue racing while I'm doing that and just see where it takes me."
Taylor feels differently. "I'm still deciding. I would like to become pro, but I want to become a teacher, too," she said. "I can't do both. I personally would love to be a professional race car driver, but it takes a lot of work. You have to have sponsors, crews, lots of money and lots of time. I would love to become one, but we'll see."
Even though the sisters may be unsure of their futures, their success seems to be growing with every race. The Beimfohr racing dynasty can be expected to continue to impact the racing world and become even more widely known in the next few years.
Christina Reznack is a senior at Edwardsville High School in Illinois.
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