Teenage Girl Holds Her Own Against The Guys

ROCKFORD-A woman racer is nothing new at the Rockford Speedway, but a 15 year old girl going against the guys is another story.

The driver of the number 6 modified car in the Sportsman Division is Deanna Chandler. 

She's going to be a sophomore at Harlem High School this fall. She won't be 16 and old enough to drive on the street until December. But every Saturday night here she is at the Speedway right there with men who are mostly more than twice her age.

"I'm 15. I'm a girl, so it's a little different for them, but they treat me just the same," says Chandler.

The Speedway does have a Winged Women's division solely for the gals, but that's not for Chandler.

"That's a little bit of a slower car. I like faster," she says.

Chandler lost her father when she was very young.  It was her uncle Gary Erby who took her under his wing and got her started in racing.

"When she was eight years old we thought she needed a hobby," says Erby.

Chandler went from racing Go-Karts to Bandoleros to Allison Legacy and now the Sportsman Division.
She's already won a heat race, and she has finished in the top five in a feature race. 

It hasn't all been smooth though. There was a race in May when she crashed and a blaze of fire engulfed her car. Fortunately Chandler was able to walk away unharmed, and she was back racing a couple weeks later.

"She just gets better every time we come out here," says Erby. "She's just smooth, and she's so consistent. You can set your watch to her."

Chandler says she's inspired by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"I was two or three years old and started watching racing. That's just who my family has always loved," she says.

Chandler still has almost half a season to try to take the checkered flag and earn her first feature win.  That would really make everyone take notice.

"We're still learning, but, I mean, I'm trying, and that's my goal."

Chandler is currently seventh in season points out of 18 drivers in the Sportsman Division.

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