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Employee Rides: Northern Sport Modified-Breanna Pfanstiel

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Imagine a bug, fueled by hunger for its next victim, ready to bite and change a person’s life forever. That is what we refer to as the racing bug. The blood pumping through your veins now only contains 89% water with the remaining 1% being 110 Octane. Now 1% may not seem like much, but it’s enough to kick start a 62 lb, 9-year-old little girl’s racing addiction. Mind you it started off small. Annoying my big brother and his friends by taking off with their yard kart behind my parents’ house at the age of 7. I was convinced my sparkly pink and purple helmet added another 10-horse, and you couldn’t tell me otherwise. At first, it was just a means of asserting dominance in our neighborhood even though my brother wouldn’t let me add the rainbow ribbon to match my bicycle handle bars.

After a couple years went by sitting in the stands watching my big brother race, something in me finally clicked. If my brother could race, why couldn’t I? My parents asked me if it was something I truly wanted to do, because once you get bit by that racing bug, there is no going back. With orange nacho cheese on the side of my cheek and in my hair, I responded with a sassy “Don’t worry dad, I won’t get bit.” Fast forward to a few weeks later, I’m ripping up the old track in Waverly in my brothers go kart. Disclaimer: you could walk faster than I was driving but I sure was having a blast. As soon as I pulled off the track, I tried standing up only to fall to the ground from dizziness. While lying on the ground with my father crouched down beside me, he flips open my visor and the first thing out of my mouth was “Dad, I’ve been bit… HARD!” That stubborn bug latched on quite tight that evening.

After 5 years racing flat karts, I was yearning for more speed and decided to make the jump up to a full-size racecar. Being that my car was going to have a manual transmission, I needed to learn how to drive using a clutch pedal. My older brother stepped up to the plate and took me to the steepest hill in a neighborhood in Lincoln and made me practice starting and stopping at every mailbox. If I stalled the engine, I had to start over at the beginning of the hill. After a few hours of driving lessons (aka torture), I felt semi-confident going into practice. The first time I ever hopped behind the wheel of a sport mod, I doubted my abilities and figured I was going to stall the car before hitting the track. In my mind it would have given me one last chance to talk to my dad. I was horribly wrong. Not only did I successfully shift gears, they were also ready for me on the track so there was no time to stop. The track promoter waved me on, and it was time to search. I started slow, around the bottom of the track, with each lap moving up in my line. It’s one thing to view a track from the outside, but as soon as you are actually on it, it is a whole different story. Your perspective completely changes. After I scoped the surface out, I started to get on the gas a little more with each lap. I remember getting on the track for the first time I was very nervous. However, by the time I was waved off the track, I remember my lips were cracked and mouth was dry from smiling ear to ear the whole time. It felt like the first time I had jumped in a go kart 6 years prior. That bug had bit me all over again. That year I earned the title of the I-80 Speedway 2016 Sport Modified Rookie of the Year. Between skipping out on weekend nights with friends, and even missing my senior prom, my heart was devoted to racing and still is. The 2021 season will wrap up my 6th year in a full-size car and 11th year racing.

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