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Woman racer is tearing up the tracks

PEORIA -- An area native is trying to make a name for herself behind the wheel, but this past year, she had to shift gears, taking on an entirely new chapter in her life.
PEORIA -- An area native is trying to make a name for herself behind the wheel, but this past year, she had to shift gears, taking on an entirely new chapter in her life. Sophie Nielsen-Kolding has the story of an 18-year old pushing the envelope on the race car track.

"It's what I love doing."

For one young woman, the kind of toy she likes comes with four wheels and high capacity for speed.

"It's a '98 Firebird and I race it in the super-stock division of the NHRA."

That's Peoria-native Rylee Stufflebeam, and the NHRA, is the National Hot Rod Association. With her first full season under her belt, she plans to spend more time getting to know her car. Luckily she has a free parking spot at her dad's shop, and free advice from someone who says racing runs in the family.

"It's kind of hard to let the reigns loose, but she's done very well."

Stufflebeam snagged a super-stock trophy this summer and ranks 14th nationally in her series, all while driving a car which can reach speeds of 150-miles per hour.

"The front will always pop up on the car and these types of cars, it always will."

She knows from experience. This is video a friend shot of Stufflebeam at a race in Reynolds, Georgia. She's in her red Firebird.

Stufflebeam says she takes a lot of safety precautions. This is her helmet and she even wears a fire suit. But, this past year, she's been balancing gear in one hand and textbooks in the other.

"I am taking 16 credit hours."

Stufflebeam is a full-time freshman at Bradley University.

"It was really stressful, and it still is, but I have some rally good professors and the school's been really willing to work with me."

"Hopefully she can do this for a long time and pass it onto her children. Then, I'll have grand-kids to go racing with."

While it might be a little early for this 18-year old to think about kids, she's thinking about a life of racing.

"As of now, it's a hobby, which is why I'm going to school. But, if I ever got a chance to drive professionally, I would do it. It's my ultimate dream."

And Stufflebeam says, if she works hard enough, she believes she'll be behind the wheel of her own destiny. Stufflebeam says she doesn't want to take any easy routes in earning her degree. She hopes to graduate from college in four years.
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