PALMDALE, Calif., Feb. 22, 2002 - Stephanie Reaves has proved that when it comes to wheels, she can drive just about anything and drive it well. From Pro Stock Motorcycles to Formula cars to driving a Cadillac STS at the 2000 Pikes Peak ...
PALMDALE, Calif., Feb. 22, 2002 - Stephanie Reaves has proved that when it comes to wheels, she can drive just about anything and drive it well. From Pro Stock Motorcycles to Formula cars to driving a Cadillac STS at the 2000 Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, Reaves sterling credentials indicate that she can accelerate down a drag strip as well as turn corners. That's why she's been selected by GM Racing to drive Chevy Cavalier's sport-compact racing entry in 2002. Reaves will compete in the NHRA Modified and IDRC Outlaw classes beginning with this weekend's Advanced Clutch Technology West Coast Nationals in Palmdale, Calif.
"We've been working with Stephanie for a long time hoping to find an opportunity that would work for both her and GM," said Josh Peterson, GM Racing program manager. "When we started the front-wheel drive project we needed someone with experience that would make the Cavalier competitive when it counted - on the racetrack. Knowing Stephanie and her background, and the enthusiasm she has to make this program successful gives everyone at GM Racing a great deal of confidence in her ability to get the job done."
Automobiles have played a major part in the life of Stephanie Reaves. A native of Maine, she learned the intricacies of the internal combustion engine at an early age working next to her father, receiving a well-rounded mechanical education that later developed into a passion for motorsports competition.
"I grew up fixing and repairing cars," said Reaves, "and then racing locally. Snowmobiles, motorcycles, tractors - anything I could get my hands on. By the time I was about 15 years old, I was actually tearing apart and putting back together big-block Chevy engines for myself to where I actually began making a profit. That's where my interest came from because I understood the mechanical side of automobiles.
"From there I became interested in the performance angle and actually wanted to get involved with stock cars. I ended up at a drag strip for the first time when I was 19. I had my own motorcycle, finished second my first time out and won some money. Then I began drag racing locally and realized this was something I could do."
1n 1995 Reaves became the first woman to earn an AMA Pro Motorcycle license. In 1996, teaming up with six-time Winston champion Dave Schultz, Reaves became the first woman to earn an NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle license. Qualifying for that year's Mile-High Nationals earned her the recognition of becoming the first woman to compete in an NHRA national event in Pro Stock Bike. She finished 10th in the Winston points standings in 1997.
"Besides racing the bike, I've had a lot of experience in cars with my Super Comp license," Reaves said. "The adaptability I've gained over the years from driving different applications has helped me in dealing with a variety of vehicles. I feel like I can get in any car and drive it. You name it and I've probably driven it at least once.
"I also spent some time testing with Jerry Haas and his Pro Stock Truck. I got in Jerry's S-10 and drove it like I'd driven it before, so I'm pretty comfortable getting into this Cavalier. I think that one of the things that is exciting for me is that it's a whole new experience for the entire team." One of the highlights of Reaves' racing career came at the 78th annual Pikes Peak Hillclimb where she drove a Cadillac STS to an impressive third-place finish.
"I'm an American-car kind of girl," said Reaves. "I've always been a big fan of Chevrolet. I'd love to go out, kick some import-car butt and show everyone what a great car the Chevy Cavalier is. There are so many small cars that have the options that younger kids want and can afford, so it's pretty exciting that GM recognizes that and is doing something to be competitive.
"I think the GM sport-compact program is going to get the attention of the younger crowd, and when kids see how well the Cavalier performs on the racetrack, then hopefully that's what they'll want to buy. People identify themselves through their vehicles, and by doing this I think we'll enhance the image of the Chevy Cavalier as a sporty car that's fun to drive."