Austin race car driver not scared to race with the guys

Published 7:40 pm Monday, June 29, 2009

Anything that’s worth doing is going to take some hard work.

But the moment that hard work pays off, it is worth all of the time put in.

Briana Grinstead, an 18-year old race car driver from Austin, had three years of solid work come into fruition when she won her first career race at Chateau Raceway in Lansing Friday night.

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Briana, who races in the S & S Auto Senior Hornets Division, is just the second female to win a race in Chateau’s 53-year history.

After trailing early, she picked up the pace to win handily Friday.

“I looked behind me and I couldn’t see (second place finisher Mike Blowers of Waseca) coming around the corner, so I thought I pretty much had it,” she said. “It was extremely exciting. I’d been waiting for it for a long time.”

Her dad, Mike Grinstead, who has been a big part of her getting into the racing scene, greeted Briana in the winner’s circle.

“I had tears running down my face,” he said. “It’s a lot of work and a lot of effort we’ve put in the last few years. The guys we were racing against have been doing it for a lot longer than us and they’re really good. To be able to actually win is really saying something for her.”


Jumping right in


After watching a few races when she was younger, Briana, who graduated from Austin High School this past spring, thought it looked like fun. So she went out and got herself a car that had already been used for racing and joined the Senior Hornets Division.

“I thought maybe she’d get in the car once and she’d say ‘I don’t like this.’ But she was pretty much hooked right away,” Mike said.

Briana found success immediately as she finished third in the points race her first year and took fifth last year. This year she is in the running for the top five again and she is hoping to jump up to the street stock next year.

“I’ll keep moving up as long as we can afford it,” said Briana, who also races at Kasson Sunday nights. “I plan on doing it for a while.”


Racing in a man’s world


Briana is one of two girls racing in the Senior Hornets Division as Kaitlyn Stark, an Austin High student, is also in that group. There are also two other females who race in other Divisions at Chateau.

But most of her competitors are men and most are older.

“There’s always going to be guys that are going to be against you because they don’t want to get beat by a girl,” Briana said. “But there are other people who are supportive of me doing it.”

She never feels the heat and is always focused on racing her best.

“It’s not really intimidating,” Briana said. “I don’t really think about (being a younger girl on the track).”

Since she started racing, Briana has drawn the attention of girls of all ages in the crowd. They’ll often approach her after a race to talk to her or take a picture with her.

“I think she’s kind of turned into a little role model and that’s pretty cool,” Mike said.

Mike said his daughter has made some huge strides since she started racing.

“There’s a big learning curve in racing, it’s a lot tougher than people think. She’s been doing real good this year,” he said.


Hanging with dad


You don’t have to look too far to find out who one of Briana’s biggest supporters is. On the back of one of the two cars that she races it says: ‘My Dad’s $$$.’

When helping Briana pick out her cars, Mike made sure they were already built for racing and were safe. He also does repairs at his shop.

Now he knows where he’ll be every just about Friday and Sunday night in the summer – watching his daughter race.

“The best part is it’s a date for me with her twice a week,” Mike said.

Briana is glad to have her dad’s support and loves to have him by her side.

“Dad does a lot. One of the best parts is doing it together with him,” she said. “I couldn’t do it by myself.”