Behind The Wheel - #24 - Stephanie Martin

Born into a family of die-hard Chevrolet fans, Stephanie Martin has continued the tradition of love for Chevrolet’s, cars, and now, drag racing. Stephanie is married to her high-school sweetheart, Chris for 26 years and they have a 22-year-old daughter Kurstin who will be graduating from Murray State University in Kentucky this year. Stephanie takes pride in her family being a family of racers, known as the Martin Racing team. For 22 years, Stephanie has worked for Citi Bank, and for many years she sat on the side-lines supporting her husband and his racing endeavors. Finally, she has gotten behind the wheel at the track and hasn’t looked back since.
Stephanie describes her life as, “racing, love, and life all in one”. She found herself in the driver’s seat for the first time in September 2020 in her husband’s 1986 Monte Carlo, with her husband in the passenger seat. That 120+mph pass gave her, “an adrenaline rush. It was so powerful and accomplishing. I knew I would never forget it!”. From then on out, her next goal was to make a solo pass and her friend Richelle Austin let Stephanie take her 1980 Chevy Monza down the track! “She was patient with walking me through every step fir what it takes to get from the pits to the track and back. I feel very lucky to have her not only as a friend but as a mentor in the world of racing”. Stephanie knew from then it was her time to get her own car to race and start corrupting others with a love of racing.
There are many people Stephanie looks up to and one of them is her husband, “He has a large knowledge of racing. He’s been doing it for so long and he’s so good at it. I look up to him in drag racing and I think I am where I am because of him”, she said. The women she looks up to are women like Richelle, who let her drive her Monza, and lots of other Oklahoma women like Sophie and Tulsa who are supporting women at the track. Stephanie’s biggest supporter is her husband, who has supported her in every step of her racing endeavor.
The two races Stephanie competed in happened to be both Oklahoma City events. She competed in the first ever Women & Wheels class race in May of 2021 with her 2007 Trailblazer SS. Stephanie and her husband installed a cam, heads, 3200 stall, and a 150 nitrous shot on it and had it running low 12’s. Although she went out first round, she had fun and felt that there were many points she could learn on from that experience. The second race she competed in, was in her brand new 2022 LT1 Camaro that she quite literally bought the weekend prior to the race. Stephanie and her husband knew that her project car would not be done in time for the race, so her husband surprised her with this Camaro, as they call the “Bribe”. It is currently equipped with a cat-back Flowmaster Outlaw exhaust, cold-air intake, and will be tuned with a set of Nitto’s next in hopes to see 11’s. Stephanie was able to make it through first round with he current best reaction time of .043 and she hopes to continuously see improvement in herself.
The project that Stephanie got “bribed” from not being finished, is a 1970 Chevelle that she purchased in August of 2019. This Chevelle has been a frame-off restoration where every single piece of metal besides the roof has been replaced. They are currently building a 540ci big-block chevy, with Dart 335 heads, 10.8 compression, and a roller cam. She is hoping to see 750hp on motor and 1000hp on nitrous! Stephanie’s favorite memory from a Women & Wheels race would be, “The first OKC race I was paired with Tulsa and there happened to be a wreck right before us, so we had to wait a long while for the track to get cleaned. I felt like we really bonded during this time getting to know one another just talking about life, laughing, and joking like we had known each other forever. If not for Women & Wheels, we may have never met and I am very thankful we did. Women & Wheels has helped build so many empowering friendships with so many amazing women that share a common passion”.
Stephanie knew many of the ladies of Women & Wheels prior to the class, “Each meetup is such a blast. Once it was announced that Women & Wheels would have an all-women’s class, I told my husband this is my chance to start racing and that I want to be a part of it, and that I would do whatever it takes to be ready to race in the first ever W&W class”, she said. From then on, Stephanie dove-in head first, and has found a passion in something she got to watch for so long. Her advice would be “Just get behind the wheel girl and come to an event, wing it, learn as you go, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Failure is just a learning experience don’t let it define you. No one is perfect, we all had a day one, and everyone is more than happy to help and provide guidance, just don’t be afraid to ask”.
Women & Wheels has a mission to help and support women in drag racing, like Stephanie Martin. “It has made me more confident. It has created a foundation where women can support other women which makes me feel more comfortable racing in such a male dominated sport and proves women can be just as fast as men. There is such a diverse level of experience throughout the class which I think helps persuade women that wouldn’t normally race to have the confidence to just go for it. Before you know it, you might realize you found your new favorite hobby”, Stephanie told me.
Stephanie truly embodies a supportive women in the drag-racing industry and goes to show how quickly you can go from the sideline supporting your friends and family, to the driver’s seat continuously bettering yourself and learning more.
You can find Stephanie on IG @martinracin_405