Meet Stephanie Keil – Ms. October 2016
Car Chix proudly welcomes Stephanie Keil to #TeamCarChix. Stephanie Keil, a female drag racer and Registered Oncology Nurse from the Quad City Area, not only earned her spot in the 2016 Car Chix Calendar, but took first place in one of the most epic Women of Motorsports Contests Car Chix has ever hosted (Read: Car Chix Women of Motorsports Contest Breaks the Internet).
Stephanie Keil is Ms. October in the Cordova International Raceway sponsored month of the 2016 Car Chix Calendar. She is a female drag racer from Long Grove, Iowa that competes with Smith Family Racing in NHRA Pro and IHRA Super Modified Classes in Division 5. You can find her racing her Hall of Fame Pizza & Wings sponsored dragster at her hometrack, Cordova International Raceway located in Cordova, Illinois.
Stephanie’s Rear Engine Dragster is a 1996 Chassis Concepts 240″ hard tail. It has a 2001 Ford 5.4 V8 with a 3.8 Whipple Twin Screw Supercharger. Her dragster is also equipped with a JW Powerglide transmission, a Big Stuff 3 controlled EFI and MagnaFuel EFI fuel system. This is one mean ride! It was actually built by Don Speer and Gary Ryan as ‘BLOWN VOY-AGE’; one of the first blown bracket cars around the area and one of the first bracket cars in the country to go 200mph! Wow!
“I was raised in a family of men, with a mom who was, and still is,our biggest fan. Having four older brothers and a superhero dad, I grew up thinking horsepower was an essential staple to survive. Turns out… it is,” Stephanie explained, “Barbie made an excellent crash dummy, broken bones came from pushing the limit, and whining is STILL not allowed.”
Growing up in a male dominated home with her Mom, Dad and four older brothers, the racing lifestyle was the standard. Some of Stephanie’s fondest childhood memories are from spending time with her family at the drag strip; especially the World Series of Drag Racing at Cordova International Raceway.
“My dad has been taking us to the drag strip for as long as I can remember. My childhood consisted of watching Shirley Muldowney, the Cool Bus wheelie stander, and Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick,” Stephanie said,”My ‘first day’ of school outfit always consisted of a t-shirt that was bought at The World Series of Drag Racing, which was the weekend before. I was young, but boy was I in love.”
As soon as she turned 16, she jumped into her brother’s nostalgic front engine dragster and had it running 8’s in the quarter mile. This was the turning point for Stephanie. She was officially bit by the racing bug!
“Since that day, I never looked back. Slowly but surly, part-by-part, my dad and I built my very own dragster,” said Stephanie Keil.
The love people have for racing, motorsports and the automotive industry is something that some people will never understand. It’s more than the actual racing or the car… it’s everything surrounding it. The people, the environment — everything. Sometimes this can be a difficult passion to explain to some. Either you get it or you don’t. Stephanie Keil gets it.
“In the entire world of motorsports, no matter what it is, you will always be your own limit. Countless people underestimate me every single day, and I love it. It fuels my burning desire to keep going. People have told me directly to my face that my car would never work,” Stephanie explains,”I have been pushed off the track due to mechanical failures time and time again. I have made my rookie mistakes, I have made my seasoned mistakes. Thankfully, my track family motivates me and inspires me. They are all well rounded and supportive. They show the true definition of sportsmanship and allow every day to become a second chance.”
We always ask Car Chix Members for any advice they could share with our community. Any advice they can give to the women that are interested in motorsports, the young women that may be on the fence about getting involved or things they wish someone would have told them when they were just getting started. Stephanie Keil has some great advice that I think men and women of all ages could benefit from — Have a good attitude, be coachable, be sociable, be humble and always believe in yourself.
“Have a good attitude. This is the only thing that will provide you a solid foundation. Stay focused on your goals, but flexible about your methods. There will always be the haters, the doubters, the non-believers, and then there will be you, with the choice to prove them wrong. ”
“Be coachable. Ask everyone’s opinion. Ask questions. There is no such thing as being overeducated. Listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to reply. Remember that you always have the right to choose. NEVER be afraid to ask for help.”
“Be sociable. Create your own reputation before others do it for you. Get to know every single person. This means your fellow opponents, the volunteers, and all the people behind the scene. You will soon realize how many friends you have when you find yourself in a really tight spot.”
“Be humble. Don’t let a win get to your head, or a loss to your heart. Each round, there will be only one winner, and only one loser. You will spend time in both categories.”
“Believe in yourself but always remember, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Know it. Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”
Stephanie is a very passionate and giving woman with one of the biggest hearts. She is a inspiration and a great role model. Earlier this year, Stephanie Keil accepted the President’s Award from Cordova International Raceway on our behalf (Read: Car Chix Honored with Cordova International Raceway’s President’s Award). She delivered a warm and heartfelt speech that hit close to home to the entire audience. We couldn’t be more honored to have Stephanie Keil as an official member of Car Chix.