Behind The Wheel - #19 - Shantel Wrightsman
In Indiana, Shantel Wrightsman lives with her husband and 2 goldendoodles & comes a family with a background of love for everything automotive. Shantel has a fix for drag racing, as her grandad used to own a drag strip and circle track, but her dad built open wheel modified racecars for a living. Racing is something she has done for years and continues to do with her husband.
Shantel originally was into off-roading and RZR’s. She decided she wanted to try something new and traded her RZR for an f-body, where she found out she disliked them and then her husband and her traded cars. Her husband at the time owned a 2005 GTO, which you will now see Shantel out racing. Shantel’s role model is her late grandfather who passed away 5 years ago. She told me about the time spent with him and how he taught her everything from detailing a car, to driving manual, and even helped her get her first car.
Her husband is her number one supporter and she told me he is basically the one person who helps her keep going with the car even when she doesn’t feel like it, “He works on my car, he’s the reason it’s turbocharged, he fixes it when I break it, he helps me with everything”. But even though her husband is her number-one supporter it doesn’t mean she doesn’t run the car faster than him. She told me, “The first time I ran down the track in the GTO I ran a 12.5. I was so nervous I didn’t even do a burnout, but by the end of the night I went faster in the GTO than he ever did!”.
Spending time in the garage and working on the GTO is something she does very commonly. Alongside with running the GTO the fastest it has been- she also tells me about the downside of drag racing and how sometimes, things don’t always go as planned, “My transmission went out so I got a manual valve body. The last time we went to a track rental, we traveled 2.5 hours to the track, and I shifted late, lifted a head, and bent 3 rods”. Since then, she has put a stock bottom end 5.3 in it to replace the 6.2 that was in it, and it still has an 88mm turbo. It also features a Holley Terminator X ECU, Brian Tooley Racing equalizer intake, BTR stage 4 turbo camshaft, built 4L80, and a supporting fuel system. Her future plans are to make it more fun to street-drive, as she doesn’t find the same fun in it when she only trailers it to the track, and when she drives it- she’s without A/C.
Shantel has competed in one Women & Wheels class in Indianapolis, where she went out first round due to her car not building boost off the line. Even though she didn’t end the night the way she wanted to, she told me about how much fun she had competing, and what she sees Women & Wheels doing for ladies in this industry. “I think this makes more girls feel more comfortable with being involved. I know when I first started racing, I was really nervous, and this kind of support shows it’s not just a guys sport, and girls can do it too”, she told me.
The excitement Shantel had was shared with me about why she chose to be involved in the class, “I thought it was so cool to see the women’s class. You get all different kind of girls competing in what most people see as a ‘guys world’, but it’s super fun to see all of these girls together having fun and competing!”. The wisdom she would give any lady wanting to get involved would be, “Ask any one of the girls any questions you have- they will all be super friendly and show you what to do. You have to practice. You’re going to fail. You have to fail in order to get where you want to be! You may try it and fall in love with it. Ask questions and don’t be scared of it”.
Shantel is the perfect representation of drag racing and how sometimes you can get a personal best, other times things can be catastrophic, but pushing through both teaches you lessons and can make you proud of how far you have come!
You can find Shantel on IG @Shantel_LS3.