Bradley Freshman Balances School with Racecar Dream

Bradley Freshman Balances School with Racecar Dream

She's ranked nationally in Stock Car racing and she's only 18.
By: Sophie Nielsen-Kolding - snielsen-kolding@wmbd.com
PEORIA – Rylee Stufflebeam admits, the kind of toys she prefers come with four wheels and a high capacity for speed.

She spends her free time tinkering with fast red car that sits in her father’s auto shop.

"It's a 98’ Firebird and I race it in the Super Stock division of the NHRA," she said.

The Peoria native competes in the National Hot Rod Association. She spent all summer with a full race schedule, travelling all over the country to compete. With her first full season under her belt, she now plans to spend more time getting to know her car. Luckily she has a free parking spot and free advice from someone who says racing runs in the family.

"It’s kind of hard to let the reigns loose, but she's done very well," said her dad, Brian.

Stufflebeam snagged a Super Stock trophy this summer, and ranks 14th nationally in her series. All while driving a car that can reach speeds of 150 miles an hour.

Stufflebeam said she takes a lot of safety precautions, wearing a helmet, gloves and even a fire-proof suit. But this past year she's been balancing gear in one hand, and textbooks in the other.

"I am taking 16 credit hours."

Stufflebeam is a full time freshman at Bradley University.

"It was really stressful, and it still is, but I have some really good professors and the schools been really willing to work with me," she said.

"Hopefully she can do this for a long time and pass it onto her children. Then I’ll have grandkids to go racing with," said her father.

While it might be a little early for the 18-year-old to think about kids, she is thinking about a life of racing.

"As of now it's a hobby, which is why I’m going to school, but if I ever got a chance to drive professionally I would do it. It's my ultimate dream," she said.

Stufflebeam said she doesn't want to take any easy routes in earning her degree and hopes to graduate from college in four years.
 
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