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Playing Through

Shana Young may be only 14, but she'll leave you in the dust out at Iron Rock Raceway

By Thomas Hackett, Fri., Sept. 26, 2008

Shayna Young
Shayna Young
Photo by Thomas Hackett

Shayna Young wears braces, paints the tips of her fingernails white, plays the cello in her school symphony orchestra, has beautiful blue-gray feline eyes – and burns some serious rubber. At 14, she's too young to legally drive, but that doesn't mean she couldn't smoke your sorry ass on the racetrack. She'll be polite about it.

She'll call you "sir" and say, "Wow, you're good!" and totally mean it, but she'll still leave you in her dust. Just ask her dad. "Oh, she can give you a licking," says Arthur Young. "If she's not beating me, she's right behind me, waiting for the last corner of the last lap to pass and take the checkered flag."

The Youngs, father and daughter, race go-karts at the Iron Rock Raceway, right by the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Go-karts may sound like putt-putt stuff, but try racing one of Iron Rock's powerful rental karts ($60 for three 10-minute races), and you'll appreciate why Formula One drivers such as Michael Schumacher and Danica Patrick apprenticed for years on kart tracks. We're talking serious speed here. The high-octane 40-horsepower karts can go more than 120 mph, pulling more than three g's on the hairpin turns.

"I was a little nervous at first because I didn't want to wreck the kart," says Shayna. "Now I love going fast. At first, my friends didn't believe me, and the boys at school, they were all, 'I bet I could beat a girl,' and I was like, 'Okay, come to the track, and we'll see!'"

One boy Shayna might want to worry about is Ryan Lewis. At age 7, Ryan has already determined that he's going to be a Formula One driver when he grows up. He has decided that NASCAR is for idiots. It's just a bunch of guys going in circles, banging into one another, driving dirty, and getting in wrecks, whereas Formula One drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, they have skill, and they're cool, and their cars go faster, too. Because of his age, Ryan races a smaller, less powerful kart than Shayna's or the souped-up, tricked-out models the grownups drive. Even so, his ride can still top out at more than 50 mph, he told me.

"That's fast!" I said.

"I know!"

"I mean, that's flying!"

"I know!"

"You're only 7!"

"I know! And you know what? One time, a kid drove right over my kart, and I broke my wrist! It was two weeks before we realized it was broken, and I got a cast. That was pretty cool."

I bet it was. But even cooler is just hanging out with their fathers. Answering her fan letter, Danica Patrick reminded Shayna of exactly that.

Not that Shayna needed reminding. "My dad works hard," she says, "but on weekends, it's just me and him and our karts. Sometimes he tells me how to drive, and we argue, because I think I'm doing it right. But that's fun, too. Basically, that's the best part of racing – spending time with my dad."

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