GRAFTON — Most kids start pretending to drive when they are still strapped into their booster seats, but not Stephanie Beane.
The 10-year-old Grafton girl actually got behind the wheel for the first time when she was just 2 and this Saturday she will attempt to break into the “Guinness Book of World Records” as the youngest stock car driver.
Matched up to race against about 15 drivers, many of them adults, the four-cylinder street stock car race will be Stephanie’s first.
And these stock cars mean business, traveling at up to
80 miles per hour.
Luckily, Stephanie doesn’t have to go that fast.
“She only has to start the race,” Stephanie’s dad Tim Beane said, to win the title of youngest stock car driver.
The title is currently held by a 12-year-old girl in North Carolina.
But Stephanie is a natural to beat the record.
She has been racing since age 4, even though she doesn’t remember most of her first races. She only knows the stories she’s told. And she has 17 trophies, including one more than half her height, to remind her of her early accomplishments.
In her first racing season, Stephanie drove away with the kid kart division track championship at Toledo Speedway.
She quickly moved up to racing champ carts and by 8 years old, she began racing Bandoleros —full-bodied cars about 10 feet long, driving as fast as 110 miles per hour.
Tim and Michelle Mercure, Tim’s girlfriend, have traveled all over the country, including Georgia, North Carolina and Michigan, to build Stephanie’s experience and prepare her for her stock car debut.
Daredevil Stephanie, as her mom, Janet Beane, calls her, proved to be the racer in the family. Father Tim, Stephanie’s 12-year-old brother Ryan, and Stephanie’s grandfather, Roger Beane, all tried their hands at racing, but enjoyed the mechanical scene better. Some of her biggest fans, they all help prepare Stephanie and her car for races.
And preparing Stephanie’s stock car for this race hasn’t been easy. The motor and transmission malfunctioned three times since Tim Beane started preparing the car, most recently Wednesday evening, only three days before the race. Tim took the car in for repairs Thursday morning and “five guys dropped what there were doing” to repair Stephanie’s car.
“If there’s no car, there’s no record,” Tim said as he continued to work away beneath the car.
But if all goes as planned, Stephanie will break the world record with her No. 10 white, red and black Dodge Neon at Sandusky Speedway.
“I learned to ride a go kart before I learned to ride a bicycle,” Stephanie laughed.
She even began signing autographs before she really knew how to write her name at age 6.
“We had her trace it so she’d learn to write fast,” Janet said.
When she’s not behind the wheel, Stephanie enjoys cheerleading, playing basketball and hanging out with her friends. But she also dreams of being a NASCAR racer when she grows up like her heroes Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“She’s a normal, ordinary kid,” Tim said. “She plays with her dolls and has tea parties, but when she gets behind the wheel, you’d never know she’s just a kid.”
Contact Rania Shakkour at 329-7127 or firstname.lastname@example.org
CHUCK HUMEL / CHRONICLE
Stephanie Beane, 10, of Grafton, is racing a Dodge Neon Saturday night in Sandusky to claim a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest stock car driver.